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Pattern Players: Kerry Lemon

Posted on December 10, 2015 by Melissa Andersen

One of the best parts of our job is getting to rub elbows with some of the most creative, talented, and inspiring people from all over the world. Recently, while on a trip to London, we had the immense pleasure of meeting UK-based artist Kerry Lemon, whose paintings and illustrations are as visually stunning as they are thought-provoking. And we're not the only ones who've noticed - her work has attracted the attention of retailers and brands from Heineken to Harper's Bazaar and has appeared everywhere from Los Angeles to Edinburgh.

What's so striking about Kerry's work is her unique approach to color, her wide array of subject matter, and her striking sense of composition. But naturally, what we love most are Kerry's patterns! From furniture to flowers, Kerry can take just about anything and turn it into a wallpaper-waiting-to-happen. Now that's our kind of woman! 

H&W: You have a very distinct aesthetic that we find fascinating. As an artist, what inspires and excites you most?

KL: EVERYTHING! I keep sketchbooks and scrapbooks, and each week I visit museums and gallery shows. It’s really important that I stay inspired and so I invest lots of my time into day adventures and solo travelling to ensure that I remain open to all the incredible things around me. This year I’ve been to America, Morocco, India, and France and I always return full of new shapes, forms, and colours just waiting to find their way into my work.

Photo by Jake Fitzjones Photography

H&W: We see so many potential wallpaper patterns in your work (we just can't help ourselves!). How do you use pattern in your work, at home, and in the way you dress?

KL: I’m really lucky as my work and my home are the same place, in a quiet village just outside London. In the studio the walls are COVERED in imagery, torn from magazines and endless postcards, and there’s always a wall covered in current paintings that I’m working on (and lots of paint drips!). The rest of the house is less manic, but I love our bedroom wallpaper by House of Hackney and the wallpaper on our living room ceiling by Mockbee & Co. We worked with Bhavin on our home renovation and really enjoyed creating a space that reflected our personalities. As for my clothes, I’m miniature (4 foot 10 inches) and so I get all my clothes made in Brighton by Dig For Victory. Lots of them are covered in my illustrations and I love wearing my art!

H&W: We love how you can make a bold statement with traditionally soft colors. What's your approach to color? Do you have any color- or pattern-mixing tips?

KL: I love soft muted tones and I normally use quite a restricted palette, introducing just few colours rather than many. As for pattern, the more the merrier! When I draw I’m always attracted to the details and textures so my drawings tend to look highly patterned - there’s dots on EVERY drawing and you can’t go wrong with a polka dot! 

H&W: In addition to color, your art also embraces classic black and white. How do you decide when to use color vs. black and white, and how do you think that may apply to home design?

KL: I love black and white, used in drawing, photography, fashion, and interiors. It’s bold and graphic and feels clean and timeless. My approach to colour is often led by the subject or the mood I’m trying to convey. The lovely thing about being an artist is that you don’t have to stay true to reality and you can depict things in whatever colour takes your fancy! In home design I think it’s important to be instinctual with colour, try not to be too influenced by others and surround your self in the colours that make you happy. I find white very calming in interiors, but I like to enliven it with art and textiles to give pops of colour and character.

Photo by Emma Brown

Photo by Emma Brown

H&W: When setting up shows and installations, artists have to think about how their 2-D art looks in a 3-D space. How do you ensure successful space planning for your installations?

KL: I like to spend a lot of time in the space, getting a feel for it, planning the logistics, and of course, endless measuring - checking and double checking. I find it quite easy to envision what a proposed installation will look like in 3D, and I love to work BIG - the bigger the better!

H&W: Much of your work seems to focus on iconic symbols and designs, like typewriters, bicycles, and the pieces you created for BBC's Antiques Roadshow. What do you think makes a design (or art) iconic?

KL: I think things are really only iconic in retrospect. A design can be successful but to become iconic requires the passing of time. Lots of things can contribute to an iconic design, composition, colour, subject, etc. but for something to move from good design to an iconic design it needs recognition and popularity. I think it’s important to not be swayed too much by other’s consideration of what is good or iconic, only surround yourself with the things that YOU love!

Photo by Emma Brown

H&W: If you could throw a holiday cocktail party and invite anyone you want - dead or alive, real or fictional - who would you choose?

KL: BEST… QUESTION…. EVER. Ok, I think I want a mix of people, and I DEFINITELY want to have fun. As this is fictional I will not be doing any cooking, and there will be lots of people to help serve, pour drinks, etc. so I can just join in all the gossip! Right, I would like….

Me (obviously)

Helen Sharman (Legend - the first Briton in space and the first woman to visit the Mir space station)

Pierre Bonnard (I will grill him about colour and get him to arrive 2 hours early so I can have a private colour lesson with him)

Helena Bonham Carter (LOVE her - can we sit next to each other please?)

Beatrix Potter (a huge inspiration, influence, and motivation for me)

Grayson Perry (I love the way he speaks about art)

Zaha Hadid (Astonishing, exciting, and innovative architecture)

Aziz Ansari (We’ve just finished watching his new show Master of None - he’s hilarious)

H&W: The Danish word 'hygge' embodies a concept of warmth and coziness. With the holidays knocking at our door and the cold, dark winter just behind them, we want to know: what do you do or where do you go to find hygge at home and around London?

KL: At home we have a huge footstool containing a RIDICULOUS number of blankets. Quite a few of them are from my trip to India, and are hand stitched in beautiful colours - I love to snuggle up under all of them. In London, the South Bank along the Thames River is lovely, lots of cafes, families, couples arm-in-arm, and twinkly lights in all the trees.



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