It’s a Bristol thing….. (those colourful houses)

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.

Ambrose Road, Cliftonwood. Where it all began?

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.

Aerial view of Totterdown
Photo: Josh Perrett

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.

Clifton wood.
Photo: Vicky White Photography

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.

A handwoven rug in the studio.

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.

In the studio
Photo: Alice Hendy Photography

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.

04/09/2020

Under Your Feet. Ruthin Craft Centre 6 April-14 July

Under your feet: The Contemporary Rug is a celebration of rugs designed in the British Isles.

WAVE rug by Angie Parker. Photo: Article Studio

Many moons ago (we’re talking mid 1990’s), I visited the Christopher Farr rug showroom in London as a rug weaving graduate, and whistfully tried to figure out how I could get from where I was, to being part of the contemporary rug scene. I’ll admit that getting sidetracked by a rather lovely career in costume for theatre and TV clearly wasn’t the most effective way to do it.

However, fast forward to 2019, and I’m over the moon to share that there’s a new exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre, where my handwoven rugs will hang alongside eighteen of the countries leading rug designers, including artists for Christopher Farr.

Under Your Feet: The Contemporary Rug
6 April – 4 July 2019
Park Road, Ruthin.
Denbighshire
LL15 1BB


The exhibition is bringing together many of my idols from the world of floorcovering design (see list below), and I’m thrilled to be there too.

I’m also really proud to be representing the tiny portion of UK rug designers who make their own rugs, and I’m delighted to see British rug weaving given this platform.

Angie Parker at the loom. Photo: Jo Hounsome Photography
WAVE rug on the loom in Angie’s Bristol Studio.

I weave a limited number of rugs each year in my Bristol studio and accept commissions from lovers of colour who are looking for a bespoke piece of floor art for their interior. More on that here. My distinctive and intricate Krokbragd rugs combine contemporary patterns with an instinctive and daring approach to colour.

Angie Parker. Fryktlos. Photo: Yeshen Venema


A few words from the curators; Jane Audas and Gregory Parsons.

Rugs defy definition. They might be craft, interior design, product design or textile art. A rug is a large presence within a room. It brings texture, colour, design and wit to an interior, where it will focus the eye and comfort the feet. Depending on the rug, it might pull together an overall interior aesthetic, or provide a significant visual exclamation point for an otherwise quiet room.

Some rugs are entirely made by designer makers. Sometimes design and production are separated out. This exhibition will showcase both types of rug; but for the latter the curators have chosen rugs whose ethical production methods are declared at source.

Helen Yardley. Force

Kate Blee Cast (for Christopher Farr)

This exhibition is a timely reminder that underfoot, or on a wall, rugs remain as vibrant and relevant as any other craft medium. And we have chosen to use the word ‘rug’ (instead of ‘carpet’) as we feel it talks to craft production and the smaller domestic setting in a way that ‘carpet’ doesn’t.

Makers in the exhibition are: Lesley Barnes, Kate Blee for Christopher Farr, Claire Gaudion, Adam Higton, Irene Infantes for Christopher Farr, Tania Johnson, Andrew Ludick for Ceadogán Rugs, Ptolemy Mann Rugs, Mourne Textiles, Patricia Murphy for Ceadogán Rugs, Alan Oliver, Angie Parker, Eleanor Pritchard for CASE, Rachel Scott, Margo Selby, Helen Steele for Ceadogán Rugs, Gunta Stölzl by Christopher Farr, Collett Zarzycki for Christopher Farr and Helen Yardley.

Margo Selby. Logan

The exhibition Under Your Feet: The Contemporary Rug runs from 6th April to 14th July 2019 at Ruthin Craft Centre, Park Road, Ruthin LL15 1BB, Wales. This exhibition will spread out before you a stunning selection of the best rugs by the best makers working today.

New WAVE Rug from Angie Parker Textiles

 The WAVE rug from Angie Parker Textiles 

For lovers of colour, textiles and quality British Craft.

IMAGE: Article Studio

Handwoven in my Bristol studio, this exclusive piece of contemporary craft brings a dash of colour and warmth to modern and traditional interiors.

This bespoke Krokbragd rug is heading to Decorex International 6-9 October 2019.

The exclusive design is also custom made to order, so clients can adapt the colours to fit in with their interior, or pick a combination to inspire a room make-over. The one in the photo measures 1mx1.6m

Does ‘Living Coral’ the Pantone Colour of the Year inspire you?

To help with decision making I post yarn samples and sketch up designs until everyone is happy that we’ve created the perfect rug. 

About the weaving….

I trained in rug weaving almost 25 years ago and specialised in Krokbragd; a traditional Scandinavian technique.

Photography:Kasia Fiszer Homes & Antiques Magazine

To create the distinctive patterns of Krokbragd (pronounced Kruuk-bra-g-ed), I pass the shuttle three times to create each solid row of colour. It’s a slow technique, but the finish is exquisite, durable and long lasting. With proper care, these rugs will last a lifetime.

The rug is woven using a specific linen for the warp, and Axminster rug wool (80% wool/20% nylon) for the weft. The nylon blend offers resistance to stains and moths, and you care for the rug in a similar way to a quality carpet. Of course, you might choose to hang it on the wall using an easy to fix baton.

Knowing the maker of your rug gives you 100% reassurance that your investment was created ethically.

You can judge the quality of a handwoven rug by the neatness of the selvedge. (I’ll just leave this here)

 I’ve created a straightforward process for commissioning my bespoke rugs, to keep the production time realistic, and only charge what you would expect to pay any skilled worker.

I have a limited amount of time scheduled to weave these rugs in 2019, and the order book is now open.
Drop me a line for prices, current lead times, any additional questions and to reserve your slot on my loom.

shiftWorks at Devon Guild of Craftsmen 04 Mar-28 Apr

shiftWorks at Devon Guild of Craftsmen
shiftWorks at Devon Guild of Craftsmen.

Join us to celebrate 50 years of the shift dress. With Arts Council England funding, nine textile artists/designers, collectively known as Seam collective, are creatively exploring their craft to showcase contemporary textile design with nine shift dresses.

Visitors can take part by sending in a photograph of their favourite shift dress and make their own mark in the gallery by hand embroidering graffiti on our blank shift dress during the exhibition.

Seam artists taking part are: Anna Glasbrook, Desiree Goodall, Anna Gravelle, Joy Merron, Angie Parker, Linda Row, Tabitha Stewart, Penny Wheeler and Samon Yechi