Scaling the Walls

I have always felt bigger than I really am. Ok at 5ft 1″ I knew wasn’t tall but it has literally taken years for it to occur to me I could actually be seen as a ‘small person’. That’s the funny thing about scale, its all about perception and illusions (…no, not delusions thank you) if you make it believable then people don’t notice. I’m often told that I don’t ‘act’ small – it’s not a conscious thing and I don’t have a complex in case you’re getting suspicious but to get to the point, I do think the same can be applied to interiors.

Small spaces can be magnified creating the illusion of a bigger space just by doing the unexpected such as going for an oversized piece of furniture or light fitting for that Alice and Wonderland effect or applying a scaled up pattern, motif or image to really take the eye beyond the walls. The room will think its bigger than it is and absorb you.

In my Amazonian Garden Fantasy post, I revealed my plans to transform our relatively small Scottish garden using giant rain forest-like plants. It got me thinking about the burst of botanical themes that are taking centre stage in the interiors world. Plants are hot news whether masses of leafy foliage, life-like fauxs or printed motifs. I’ve always loved whimsical botanical illustrations and seeing these developed into outsized patterns on textiles and wallpapers is exciting as they give more opportunity to bring an element of theatre to a room or wall which is always good.

The effect of scale is what drove me as an artist to move from the canvas to creating wall murals and out of the gallery into making large artworks for public places. I was interested in that feeling of almost stepping into a painting or actually being able to walk over a sculpture. When you scale things up beyond human size the body is forced to react and magic happens – we become more aware of our senses and our ideas about familiar things change dramatically. I used to use this creative process with my students to help break their early habit of producing tiny self conscious drawings in the middle of a giant piece of white paper. They were always excited when they saw their drawings blown up with the photocopier to large scale and it often changed their perceptions helping them to see their work from a new perspective. We would then take these sections of the scaled up drawings and create new artworks.

I recently came across the work of Australian artist Shelley Steer, I think her incredible work illustrates the process of scaling a motif from original artwork beautifully. Currently living in London ( having gained a Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) RMIT, Melbourne, Australia) she works as a freelance Textile Designer and Illustrator producing designs for fashion, textiles and packaging homewares amongst others. Inspired by nature and more recently using Kew Gardens as a major resource and inspiration I can see why her work is so exciting.

I love that her original pencil drawings in graphite make it all the way to the finished design. They are not overly computer manipulated or perfected and the hand drawn marks and ‘slatey’ textures give them a human touch with an animated feel you would never tire of looking at.

Shelley and her former studio mate Louise Jones set up ‘A Side Project’ an online project space which showcases their individual styles and work in progress – go and have a browse here! Each motif could be framed as an original artwork which is as it should be and the resulting patterns are breathtaking.

I want to thank Shelley for allowing me to use her fantastic images to illustrate my thoughts in this post! You can see more of her designs here and also read an interview she did with IDOL magazine here which gives some insight into her background and the process behind her work.

For those of you in the mood to explore more botanical wallpapers and murals with a bit of oomph, nip over to my updated Pinterest board on Botanical Trends. We also have some amazing wallpapers coming into the store soon so look out for them!

4 thoughts on “Scaling the Walls”

  1. What a coincidence I was picking chaenomeles with their flowers and spiky stems and contorted hazel branches with catkins together with rosemary to take to draw at an art club I attend . I will have to be inspired after seeing those lovely illustrations.


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