It’s not everyday that I see one of my woven designs on the cover of a Magazine, and it’s it quite fitting that The Bristol Blanket has made it’s editorial debut in this beautiful October edition of The Bristol Magazine.
Five feel good things I’d like you to know about The Bristol Blanket
The design is inspired by Bristol’s colourful houses, which brightened up our daily walks during lock down in the Spring. Read more here
It is woven in partnership with Bristol Weaving Mill. A renowned micro mill in the heart of my home city of Bristol which specialises in innovative design. Read more here
The optimistic colours in this sumptuous 100% lambswool blanket are designed to lift your spirits and bring warmth and joy to your home, and it is so soft. (I provide samples for those who prefer to feel the quality of a textile product before they invest. Drop me a line if you’d like to receive one).
The design reflects the connections with our neighbours and local community which for many were strengthened during lock down. As an artist I wanted to design a collection that echoed the special bonds that formed from the shared experiences, in the hope that we continue to strengthen them and support each other.
For every blanket sold, 10% of the profit will go to MIND- the mental health charity.
I’m delighted to launch The Bristol Blanket ahead of schedule and hope I can help to bring warmth and joy to more people this winter. I get that most of us like to know just how soft a blanket is before buying so get in touch here if you’d like me to pop a sample of the cloth in the post. Drop me a line if you have any questions and head over to my online shop to check out this uplifting new design from my Bristol studio.
It’s not hard to understand why colour lovers enjoy living in Bristol. Is there a more colourful city anywhere else in the UK?
Since the mid 1960s, there’s been a growing number of brightly painted houses lighting up the urban landscape, something which has grown in popularity in recent years. I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoyed a new appreciation for these uplifting views during the months of lockdown.
When the bursts of colour from our daily walks started to find their way into my handwoven designs, I decided to do some research into the history of these picturesque houses. To help with this I approached architects Stride Treglown and Jess Siggers, as I was already aware that in 2017 they launched the Bristol Colour Capital initiative, to promote Bristol as the most colourful City in the UK. They collated and presented research from residents at a seminar, where the scheme to link re-painting homes with utilising home energy improvement grants was discussed. Head of sustainability, Rob Delius, kindly shared these findings to enable me to continue the colour part of the conversation.
How did it all begin?
Rumour has it that George Ferguson, (architect, entrepreneur and politician), may have been the first to paint his newly acquired home in Cliftonwood. I caught up with George recently, and established that he did indeed paint his dull grey house a terracotta red in 1966, using sandtex masonry paint. (If you know any from before this date please do let me know). His pal up the road painted his a rich blue shade at the same time, and this is how one of the most colourful and photogenic streets in the city started.
It was interesting to discover from George that these terraces were previously earmarked for demolition, with the proposal of three blocks of flats to replace them. This u-turn in planning enabled savvy investors to buy the run down properties cheaply, and it gave them the opportunity to make their mark on the city. The views of these houses from the docks are almost as photographed as the suspension bridge. George cites the influence of 1960’s psychedelia, Glastonbury, and the general feeling of freedom at the time for his, and his friend’s decision to paint the depressing grey facing on their homes. And with so many of Bristol’s terraced houses being rendered, it’s easy to see how this idea gathered momentum.
Another rumour is that this trend started in Totterdown, where a local decorator offered cheap house painting to make use of the free coloured paints he’d acquired. The stunning aerial photo by Josh Perrett (below) shows that the painters have been pretty busy since these first few daring homeowners started the ball rolling. I’d really like to know more about these houses, so if you know any other interesting stories please do drop me a line and I can update things.
Obviously, painted houses aren’t exclusive to Bristol, but the difference in this city is that the trend was led by the residents, rather than artist initiatives or planners. That said, Bristol is home to thousands of artists and creatives, so it’s hardly a surprise the residents here take every opportunity to express themselves though bold combinations of house colour and front doors. It seems that once one person takes the plunge, the rest of the street gradually follows.
Many locals agree that the hilly landscape in the city lends itself to the aesthetic, with one respondent to the Stride Treglown (ST) survey pointing out how much they love spotting their home from the opposite side of the city. Over the past decade things have gathered pace, with reasons including a love of colour, the influence of travel, and simply wanting to join in with what many see as ‘a Bristol thing’. Colour choices are very personal, but according to ST report most respondents were considerate of their neighbours when selecting colours that compliment the rest of their street.
I’ve yet to have a conversation with anyone who has a negative reaction to the houses, and everyone I’ve asked finds the views uplifting and cheerful. And as designer, I feel incredibly fortunatate to have such joyful and inspiring blocks of colour to feast my eyes on, every time I walk out of my house.
There is so much more that I want to find out, and I see this blog post as the start of an ongoing dialogue. Does living in a colourful neighbourhood make people happier? Can colour really improve health and well-being? Does Bristol have more coloured houses than any other UK City?
This final question led to a spin off blog post investigating colourful neighbourhoods around the globe which you can read here.
It’s no surprise that designing a new collection of textiles based on these houses was a joyful experience for me, with the biggest challenge being the limit on the number of colours I could use when working with my local mill. The final designs are intended to bring uplifting pops of colour into the homes of those who love these inspiring views as much as I do, and I’m delighted to share them with you ahead of schedule. Find out more here, and head to my online shop to check out the new collection.
Angie Parker is a weaver, designer and colourist, based at BV Studios in Bedminster. She trained in rug weaving in the 1990’s and started her textile practice 6 years ago. Her latest collection of handwoven designs and small batch produced textiles has been launched ahead of schedule in September 2020. Subscribers to her newsletter are the first to see new designs and also get access to special offers and exhibition news. Sign up here to keep in the loop.