Introducing London based textile designer, screen printer and artist, Beki Bright. Her work celebrates the English countryside. Having grown up in rural Suffolk and spending recent years in Somerset, Beki draws inspiration from these surroundings and the landscapes that encompass them. Her lived experiences have led to a fascination with English folklore, country crafts and the rituals of countryside living which are all visible influences in her creations.
Beki’s fabric design ‘The Plough’ is an abstract take on her Grandad’s thatched Suffolk farmhouse. Set in rolling fields amongst a beautiful and timeless landscape, complete with fields of wheat, furrowed fields, farm horses, a smoking chimney and sunshine. This fabric transcends seasons, depicting Beki’s collective memories of this rural landscape. We adore it!
Join us as we ‘Meet the Maker’ and chat to Beki Bright…
How did you begin designing textiles?
I have worked in various roles within the textile industry since graduating with my Textiles BA from Goldsmiths in London. I started my career by working as a Breakdown Artist and Dyer for costume departments where I specialised in dyeing fabrics and colour matching. After taking a break from the costume world I started working for a textile design studio in London. Being in this environment has given me access to some of the most beautiful antique fabrics and has allowed me to travel the world, providing an endless source of inspiration.
I have always been really creative and in my spare time I was taking courses in landscape drawing, textile design and lino printing. I wanted to somehow combine the practical skills that I had learnt whilst working in costume with my creative interests and research. It was a natural decision for me to create a brand that enforced the idea of artist designed textiles for everyday life. This coincided with a move from London to Somerset, giving me the chance to enrol on an MA Design at Bath Spa University where I worked towards launching my brand, Beki Bright.
We love your fabric design ‘The Plough’. What is the story behind it?
Inspiration for ‘The Plough’ came from my Grandad’s farm in Suffolk. When my Grandad’s wife Sally sadly passed away, I helped my family pack away the contents of the farmhouse which we called ‘The Plough’. Both my Grandad and Sally had been avid antique collectors and a treasure trove of rural and agricultural artefacts and antiques were found in the farmhouse.
My Grandad used to breed horses and the farmhouse walls were adorned with memorabilia from past country shows, corn dolls and horseshoes. With Grandad living there for 30 years, he gathered a lifetime’s worth of objects. Every inch of wall and surface was decorated to the max.
When packing up the farmhouse I came to realise that soon, these homes will cease to exist in the same way. Especially when older traditions of rural life fade away with the passing of generations. ‘The Plough’ fabric was created to honour the home and my family’s history through colour and pattern.
What does your design process involve?
The first stage for any of my designs will be the research. I spend a lot of time planning the landscape, gathering inspiration from museums, exhibitions and books. I’m pretty old school with my design process. With ‘The Plough’ I took all of my research and drew up lots of different elements, eventually piecing them together to create a landscape.
I play around with scale at this stage, blowing the designs up in size and reducing them, redrawing elements until I feel like the design has the right balance and flow. This is when I start to work on the repeat, tile scanning the drawing into Photoshop, fine-tuning the drawing until it’s just right. After this, I will head to my print studio in Peckham, London, which is where I do all of my practical printing work. In the print room, I will play around with the artwork, testing lots of sample screens and testing the scale and colour combinations. I will finalise the design and then send the repeats and trial swatches for printing.
Your colour combinations are stunning. How do you go about selecting these dyes?
Colour is hugely important in my work. Having spent so much of my career mixing and colour matching dyes for costume and fashion, I have a strong sense of how colours are created and I love the process of developing new colour combinations for my collections. The initial inspiration for my colours comes largely from my research. I will look to my original drawings and photographs for interesting colour combinations.
Through my research, I will have a rough idea of the colours I would like to add to my collection. I will then head to my print studio where I mix up many versions of my chosen colours, adjusting them each time. This allows me to experiment with a wide range of variations. Once the favourites have been chosen I will start to play with how the colours work together. Printing them onto fabric, overlapping them and experimenting with colour balance, finally testing them out on the design artwork. Eventually, I will end up with 5 or 6 colourways for each design. These will be printed into large swatches which will then be used to choose the final colour combinations.
Do you have a favourite design and why?
‘The Plough’ has to be my favourite design. There’s so much tied up in the design on a personal level along with the fact that it has been my biggest design challenge yet, taking me over a year to complete! I am really proud of it and I learnt a lot along the way.
We are sure you’re just as inspired by Beki Bright and her work as we are. We admire how she has crafted her cherished memories of ‘The Plough’ to create a timeless design. Her story acts as a reminder of how craft and design can be used to heal, reminisce and capture moments in time. You can follow Beki and explore her creations on Instagram @beki_bright and at bekibright.com