I love seeing creative people’s working spaces. I think you can tell a lot about a person by the space they work in, and I think you often see the influences of a space coming through into people’s work. This is especially true of Kirsty Thomas aka the Lovely Pigeon. It really is as if her space has been condensed into each piece of work. She says of the picture above: “An Ikea picture shelf has become home to an ever-changing collection of inspiration, postcards, prints, bits of vintage and product samples.”
A collection of vintage dogs inspires her work: “the stranger the better!” This one inspired the Wally print. Kirsty lives in Cellardyke, a tiny fishing village on the East Coast of Scotland, where she moved from Liverpool six years ago, “to escape the big city”. The Pigeon studio was originally a net loft where the fishermen would dry and mend their nets. The winch is still by the back door and they found antique net hooks when they moved in. “We put in a staircase – initially you had to climb up a ladder and through a hole in the floor to get up here – and renovated the whole space but kept as many of the original features as possible.”
The studio is attached to the house so Kirsty often spills into the dining room “a great meeting and working space”, the kitchen “for making my jewellery collection” and when the weather is good, the whole workspace moves out into the garden. The Formica table from a local auction house makes a good sewing table. Kirsty opens her studio to the public a few times a year, so she keeps cards and other work on display.
“The postcards on the wall of the dining room are a recent addition. It just seemed like a better idea than keeping them all hidden away in boxes.” And when she’s not having meetings in here, Kirsty says it makes a great spot for a tea break!
Most of Kirsty’s prints are hand pulled lino prints; “I like the simplicity of one and two colour prints and they are often inspired by 50s design and illustration.”
Once printed, the original beams provide an opportunity for a ‘washing line’ to dry them on.
The space has upstairs doors, once used to haul nets in for mending, and a tiny view of the sea from the glazed door which can be opened to the garden in the summer.
Kirsty’s studio is full of little inspirational items, or “bits and bobs” as she calls them, “collected on my travels – vintage Spanish printing blocks, old wooden rulers and a strange toy cow!”
The extra long shelves are from an old science lab. “I try to keep organised by storing things on bulldog clips – it doesn’t always work.”
I love Kirsty’s sense of humour. A large scale lion cut out from a window display for the Red Door Gallery in Edinburgh is ‘trying to escape’ from behind these drawers…
Kirsty admits that she rarely uses her vintage typewriter, but as she says, it does look gorgeous sitting next to her printer, its modern equivalent.
Kirsty’s printing materials are kept in an old chest of drawers and she acquired the old printing press from a school.
“I really like using chalkpens on the big glass door to sketch out ideas. I recently created a massive mural for Children in Need and the door was my practice area. I also have a passion for old chairs. We have so many that we recently had to rent a lock up to store some of them!”
Further reading for the especially geeky: