Meet the Makers
If you’re lucky to have tickets for RHS Chelsea Flower Show go down to the woods in the plateau where you’ll discover the event’s answer to Diagon Alley. Accessed via a bark path past the artisan eateries, or up a railway sleeper stairway lined with blossom you will find a tiny row of colourful decorated studios. The wizarding that takes places here is demonstrations of handcrafting and artistry.
It’s a peaceful enclave hidden from the muggle world of Show gardens and the Grand Pavilion of intricate flower displays. The Artisan Area is filled with tantilising sights, the chitter chatter of visitors sipping coffee, the hum of bees and bursts of birdsong.
Charlie Whinney’s Studio Pent
The first stop you’ll come to after walking past the picnic tables and foodie stalls is Charlie Whinney’s cedar 12′ x 10′ Studio Pent painted in white smoke .
Charlie’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious. His steam-bent Ash sculptures spill out onto the deck and grass in front. A beautiful landscaped garden segues neatly into the deck.
Continuing with the Harry Potter theme, there’s no need for a sorting hat with the chair you encounter to the side of the studio! A flourish of curves stretch skywards next to the contraption crammed full of slithers of wood which occasionally wafts whispers of steam.
Inside the building are neat rows of woodworking tools hung from the walls and a work bench. Overhead steam-bent light shades hang amongst bare tree branches.
Frenziedly Charlie works the wood occasionally stopping to lay down on the bench made from one piece of beautifully tactile caramel coloured wood.
Lola Lely’s Studio Apex
The next retreat on the right is Lola Lely’s Dyer’s Studio. Painted in eye-popping red with a pure white interior this cedar garden building is a roomy 12′ x 10′. A “cauldron” of dye sits on the verandah alongside a bench with jars of bark, flowers and leaves for potion making. Segments of fabric pinned to washing lines sway in the breeze inside and out.
A textile work wall hanging with patches of pink, green and white contrasts with a zingy lemon piece of fabric covering the adjacent wall. This zen-like space is as magical as the textile art it’s custodian cooks up.
While we were there Lola and Charlie achieved an Artisan Area first collaborating to dip dye a steam-bent sculpture in a beautiful inky indigo.
Corrie Bain’s Ashton Summerhouse
To the left you will find Corrie Bain’s 12′ x 10′ Ashton resplendent with square leaded windows painted in slate blue. The decked area is dressed with arrangements of flouncy fresh cut flowers and Corrie’s intricate ceramics inspired by imagery of seed pods, pollen and fractals echoed on the mood boards adorning the walls inside.
An industrious Corrie works the poreclain clay non stop on her newest creation. Her concentration is only broken to stop to chat to passersby in her calming Scottish lilt. She describes how she has transported her largest ceramic all the way from her home in Barcelona by car. She laughs saying how her neighbours mistakenly thought it was an elaborate cake.
Natasha Hulse’s Hanley Studio
Further along from the McQueens interactive installation where visitors are invited to create a bee you will find Natasha Hulse’s 14′ x 10′ flat roof Hanley studio.
Painted in midnight blue and flanked with potted daisies, Natasha’s studio is full of her floral inspired hand-painted and embroidered designs. Decorative curtains and an embellished headboard give the interior a cosy inviting feel. The internal slate blue interior co-ordinate perfectly with appliquéd cushions, screen and framed pieces displayed on an antique painted side board.
Natasha looks really at home as she skilfully paints on fabric in a corner of the studio. A guest book on a pedestal table invites visitors to leave comments if you can find the words to describe her beautiful works of art.
Laura Jane Wylder’s Studio Pavilion
The last stop on the right through the alley is Laura Jane Wylder’s 15′ x 10′ Studio Pavilion with 5′ open area to the right.
Laura has designed a minimal bohemian studio with an Ibizan vibe, to encourage both creativity and contemplation.With bright white walls and vibrant pops of colour, inside there’s a selection of table-top sculptures set amongst herbs, books and tools.
On the outside small veranda area Natasha sculpts a life size female in clay surrounded by larger sculptures. The planting compliments the Ibizan style in an eclectic mix of rustic pots and planters.
The figures have a mediative quality set against the woodland setting they offer the viewer a sense of perspective. So if it all gets too much and you need a place to appreciate and revel in the wonderful, magical world around you head for Laura’s studio. She even has an invisibility cloak if needed…just ask!