The Hermitage Collection was inspired by a large house hidden away on the banks of the river Tyne but very centrally located, not many people actually know it exists. Owned by the Allgood family it was rented out to the same family for over 100 years. The last of this family died with no family in 2013. The house turned out to be a ‘time warp’, the family never threw anything out for over 100 years so you can imagine how pleased the auctioneer was when he came to value the contents.
Jane Allgood asked Charlotte if it was possible to have a look at some hand painted Chinese wallpaper found in one of the bedrooms. This wallpaper was listed with the house and had seen better days. Initially Charlotte thought it might be too hard a job to try and replicate. Many photos later and using technology mixed in with artistic ability Charlotte managed to produce a repeat pattern of the wallpaper but it was a representation of the design and not an exact copy. The whole process had been a great learning curve and such an inspiration. Charlotte decided to use this experience and make it the basis of her first collection now available for sale.
Original Chinese wallpaper
Inspired fabric designs
Swiss Knot design from 1751 collection
I love the shape in the design and I think it works really well as a texture or on its own as a design, it could modern or traditional at the same time.
My husband and I had a short break in Gstaad in Switzerland where we were meant to be going skiing. My feet were bad so I left my husband to ski and I ended up routing out the local culture. I did manage to find some little museums amongst the villages which showed old alpine life in the 1700s onwards. It was fascinating and what really stood out were the many paper cut pictures on the walls. Some of them were very colourful and beautifully intricate, it must have taken many hours to produce them. I always visualised them as just back and white but I was so wrong. I found the shape for the Swiss knot within these pictures, I adapted it and made it more cir metrical and created a pattern repeat by just using this design. My husband has a great time skiing and we had a fabulous holiday in all, I would very much recommend going to Gstaad even if you just go for the train journey there it was magical and so romantic
American Queen fabric from The Summer Tea collection
I went to New York City in January 2015 to visit a show called ‘Printsource’, this show was for pattern designers to sell their ideas to lots of different industries needing repeat patterns. These industries ranged from paper plate manufacturers to smart expensive wallpaper companies. At this stage I thought that I could do this, visit New York twice a year to sell my wears at this show. I soon realised it was not for me and it was my turning point to realise that I wanted to do my own thing and hang onto my designs and not give them away for very little money. The show was a two day show and I only did one day which left me with a spare day in NYC. I decided to go to the Natural History Museum next to Central Park. It was amazing and such an inspiration! I found the American Indian Hall and just loved looking at all the elaborate American Indian textiles. The American Queen fabric was inspired by a skirt I saw, I loved the way there was a pattern of sections of colours with lots of diamonds and long shapes, it is very typical of the American Indian dress. I started a design when I come home but dismissed it at first, after a few months I came across it again and it just slot into place and worked really well and I included it in The Summer Tea collection.
I do like this fabric even though I say it myself, I always imagined it would make a room look really pretty and sweet, especially in a cottage or an attic room. Some people don’t like birds on fabric and wallpaper, this surprises me as some of the most gorgeous fabrics have birds on them. I personally love birds so I don’t mind it at all.
I had to go on the most horrible day to watch my son play in a rugby tournament at Barnard Castle Prep School. As much as I love rugby! I managed to escape to the nearby Bowes Museum to have an inspirational time. My husband is a rugby nut so he kept my son company watching all the matches getting very wet. The Bowes Museum is a must place to go! The owner built it to house their enormous art collection and it was modelled on a French museum. Spectacular is the word for it and the most unlikely building you would ever think to appear in County Durham the North East of England, looking at it you would think you were in a posh Parisian suburb.
On show in the museum are some amazing ceramics, English and European, some of it was beautiful and I found some amazing pieces which inspired me to create Madam Birdie fabric. The museum is also famous for the silver swan which comes to life once a day to pick up fish, it is so very beautiful and magical it has to be seen to be believed. I am due another visit to the Bowes Museum very soon. Inspiration is everywhere and I never thought I would have had so much pleasure on a dark, wet winters day going to a ruby tournament.
Empire was inspired by my Gt Grandfather Sir William Conyngham Greene who was a British Diplomat at the beginning of the 19th century. I found a beautifully decorated bag with a old book inside and it turned out to be an account of his travels to Persia. There were no roads and aeroplanes in those days so he covered vast distances on the back of a donkey. His account continues with his meetings with The Shar of Persia who was very bad mannered but was dripping in precious jewels, he was famous for his harem and rooms full of gold, silver and more precious jewels. When my Grandfather left Persia a few months later the Shar gave him a beautiful jewel encrusted snuff box which had a portrait of himself on the top, we still have this snuff box in the family. The account of Sir William’s trip to Persia reminded me of all the Arabian films my sisters and I used to love to watch, turbans, veils, jewels and camels, all very romantic!
Orlando The Great elephant fabric is named after my autistic Godson Orlando. I couldn’t think what to get him for his 7th birthday and his mother suggested I name one of my fabrics after him. Poor Orlando has had a difficult year and has had to be confronted with massive changes in his life which is amplified when you have autism. His father left the family, forced them out of their home and then moved back in himself with his new girlfriend. Orlando his sister Angelica who also has autism and their mother have the best attitude and are picking themselves up and carrying on regardless.
Opposite is Orlando with the cushion I made for him out of Orlando The Great fabric.