Last weekend we visited a traditional Victorian Fair taking place in a historical square in central Preston and discovered the wonderful work of Elizabeth Emmens Wilson. The artist decorates an array of ceramics with her beautiful, intricate patterns; adding her magical touch to crockery, broaches, hair accessories, tiles and more. I wanted to find out more about the artist and her cheering designs.
Where are you based?
I am originally from a little village near Kirkham in Lancashire, but now live in Blackburn.
Tell me a bit about your background. Have you always had pen/pencil to paper/ceramic?
I always loved drawing and painting as a child. When I was 16 my Mum and I went to a china painting evening class. We both loved it, my Dad enjoyed the peace it gave him and he bought my Mum a kiln. I went on to do A level painting and textiles, then a BTEC General art and design and a surface pattern design degree at Staffordshire Uni….( it was a polytechnic when I went and a Uni by the time I left!) When ever I came home though, for weekends and holidays I would be painting onto ceramics. After I left college, I had no access to all the equipment we had used to print fabric, but I still had access to my Mums kiln!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I love traditional patterns and I think my fabric design background helps me to see pattern in lots of things…..I love flowers, sunsets, textures in paint, I think if you open your eyes and look at both the nature and man made world around us, there are many beauties to behold.
Its many people’s dream to work as a self employed artist, how do you make it work?
Its is not easy, I have painted anything and everything…I have (and still do!) face paint at parties, painted murals in schools, painted ceramic wall tiles for shops, done creative projects in schools, done illustrations for industrial catalogues and more recently community projects and all the while painting things and selling them at markets and online.
What sorts of community projects have you been involved in?
I have done community art projects with lots of community groups and charities including MIND, the Stroke Association, Women’s refuges, Creative Support and Emmaus. It is fun doing community art projects, I enjoy working with people who have mental health issues and those who suffer from isolation. Seeing how being creative can make people come out of their shell and gain confidence in themselves over time is very rewarding.
What has been your proudest moment as an artist?
It was lovely having a share in a pop up shop in Blackburn town centre, but I feel that my best is yet to come!!
How has your product evolved?
The main way my product has evolved is that I work in ranges now, I have several and they are all named after old ladies, real and imagined! I have ‘Eliza’, ‘Elsie’, ‘Bette’, ‘Pearl’, ‘Prudence’ and ‘Kitty’ and a few more I am exploring! Each range has a either a specific colour palette, or patterns.
Having the shop improved my packaging and cemented my realisation that I enjoy both the making and the selling!
Anything super exciting coming up?
I have been learning to laser cut, using the new ‘Making Rooms’ Fab Lab in Blackburn town centre, I have enjoyed this immensely, it is like high-tech witchcraft! So hopefully more of this!
I also hope to have a stall at the festival of Making that is due to be held in Blackburn later in the year, but I am still working on getting my events booked for the year!
Take a look at more of Elizabeth’s beautifully decorated ceramics and gifts on her website.
Elizabeth’s treasures are available to buy online in her Etsy shop.