As we explored Take Root as the theme of Solly Baby’s AW21 Collection, we couldn’t help but be inspired by the work of illustrator, designer, author and mother Clare Therese, who has taken root with her three children on a working farm in the dreamy British countryside. We’re thrilled to have collaborated with her on the line and are delighted to share a little more about the making of through our interview with Clare below.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the line.
I really wanted the prints to be a celebration of the rich variation that you see in nature, particularly at this time of year. I love the idea of gathering and foraging as the seasons change. The feeling you only get in autumn of looking closely and finding the treasures of tiny seedheads, unfurling leaves, flowers, wild fruits and berries.
What did the process of creating it look like?
The palette was really my way into designing the main print. The colours are warming but muted with burgundy, warm clay and gold, with a pop of burnished lilac and indigo. I was inspired to imagine the tangled hedgerows with pops of dark juicy berries and the glow of autumn light. We are very fortunate to be in a rural spot with the countryside and fields outside the door, so I have been out walking with my sketchbook, recording for inspiration and ideas.
Describe the collection in three words.
Harvest & Forage. This turn of the seasons is very noticeable in the English countryside. Autumn fruits are beginning to ripen, berries darken, and the hedgerow leaves curl and brown. Harvest seems like such an appropriate name for the collection because as it has been developing I have been watching the fields turn golden and the wheat and barley be harvested here on the farm as late summer turns to Autumn.
Nurture. The idea of caring, protecting our babes, and, particularly at this time of year, wanting to cosy up together as the nights draw in.
Can you tell us about your process in creating the Harvest print?
This project has been really special for me as it is very much a collaboration and ideas have been shared and discussed at each stage of the process.
For both the main print and the ancillary design I began as I always do, with research and drawing, thinking about the abundance of nature and the textures which can be found. Drawing from life-like reference is always helpful and a springboard to develop more imaginative and varied shapes. Gradually elegant forms start to emerge, and I pick these out to take further into the print. Next, mixing the palette and playing with the colours, I looked for harmonious combinations and interesting textures in line and shadow. I tend to ‘over-draw’ so I have a really rich and full range of elements to pull together the final design. I scan the artworks, and they were digitally tidied and layered to create the feeling of an entwined harvest hedgerow!
What does “taking root” mean to you?
The start of something special, choosing to put energy into growing new life. The idea of balance, that you have a strong supportive and grounded base from which to grow, spread and explore your surroundings.
When you reflect back on your early days of motherhood, what do you remember most?
The early days of motherhood passed in a little bit of a blur—I remember everything revolving around sleep; the having it, and not having it! Strong memories of my little ones being present absolutely wherever I was, either tucked up in the moses basket next to my own bed, or in the kitchen as I cooked or by my desk as I worked. Having them wrapped against me on walks or whilst doing chores—a very precious closeness.
Anything you wish you could tell your new-mom self?
I would say not to worry about other parents taking a different approach in the early days to the one that came naturally. I found that keeping busy and carrying on with some drawing and designing right from birth has been really healthy for me; by this I mean in naps and evenings with all three of my babes. Working and drawing is part of my identity. It is something outside of the needs of my children, which grounds and gives me focus. Some people advised me to forget about work for a few months, but this never seemed like the right path to take and I’ll always be glad I took the approach that I did.
How has motherhood inspired your work?
Motherhood requires a special type of ingenuity and creativity, turning the everyday into something new and exciting for little eyes and hands to explore. I think this openness has fed into my work and I love to forage about for natural things to draw and decorate. My studio desk is in the middle of our home amidst the busyness and chaos, and often little snippets of everyday life sneak into my sketchbooks!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am so excited that the U.S. publication of my first book, Painting Nature with Clare, launches this November. As the paintings for this project have also been gouache, and the book touches on painting foraged fruits, mushrooms and harvest wheat, it feels like things are coming full circle with a real nature celebration.
Our AW21 Collection designed in collaboration with Clare Therese arrives September 21. Get notified at launch.