This month’s cover is the work of local pattern designer and illustrator Esther Cox. “Everybody thinks I’m a printer,” she says. “I do sometimes use printmaking techniques – I might use lino printing or really basic screen printing – but by and large I work with collage. All my work is hand-made and then digitally manipulated. I’m not somebody who starts with a little thumbnail sketch – I think I tend to work quite intuitively and just allow the piece to come together.”
Regular visitors to the gallery and shop Unlimited, on Church Street, will be familiar with Esther’s prints, which are typically very pattern-led. “That’s probably the least of what I do,” she says, “it’s more of a hobby on the side. Chiefly, I work as a textile designer, and the reason my work as an illustrator is so patterned is because that’s my first love: pattern. I create prints for fashion, largely for menswear and childrenswear, predominantly abstract and geometric designs. I work through an agent, who shows the prints to clients. It’s a nice way to work because it’s quite free – pattern design comes very naturally to me, and it feeds back into my illustration work.”
Esther was recently set the exciting task of creating a body of work for an exhibition at Charleston Farmhouse, the former home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. “I was asked to give a response to the house,” she explains, “to create some work that reflects the building and all that Bloomsbury decoration that’s in it. I got free rein to go around the house and take photographs and think about the space – it was really inspiring. The thing I went off with in the collages was, firstly, their use of colour, and, secondly, not so much the patterns themselves, but the lines and where they met. There were lots of interesting angles where walls were coloured, or doorframes, or doors, and that’s really what inspired the work that I’ve done – trying to get those colours and textures to work. I didn’t want to do representations of the farmhouse or feel like I was creating pastiches of Duncan Grant’s patterns.” The pieces will be on display at Charleston (see charleston.org.uk for more details).
Another of Esther’s major commissions came from Transport for London, who approached her to design a series of posters. “The first two were centred around London riversides,” she says. “The only requirement was that the scene had to include the river in some way, otherwise I was given the freedom to do as I wished.” Her second two posters, published in January, promoted shopping locations Shoreditch and Southall. All four are now a part of the London Transport Museum’s poster collection.
See more of Esther’s work at esthercoxskiosk.com