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What Our Makers Do at Home – Part 2


Last week, we stopped by with Marcus Wells, our dream framer, Melissa White and her magical murals, and Margit Wittig and her lyrical clay creations to get a glimpse into their day to day life. This week, we speak with another maker and a member of the Kit Kemp Design Studio to learn about how life has changed whilst working from home.

Martha Freud

Ceramicist Martha’s Freud’s work can be found throughout our hotels, delicately glowing in central spaces, each with entirely their own personality and story. We caught up with Martha at home in Suffolk to hear about how life has changed in lockdown.

1. How has your day changed since working at home?

I have been lucky enough to be staying with relatives on the Suffolk coast during lockdown. Even though I normally work from home, and therefore should have been set to consistently work, I also have two young kids and so have found myself doing a lot of home-schooling, nursery playing, relentlessly cooking and dragging a vacuum cleaner behind me wherever I go.

Saying that, being surrounded by so much nature and looking after two little bug hunters, I have found myself deeply inspired by our surroundings. On one of the first warm days of lockdown, we cycled to the river and harvested some clay from the banks. The kids insisted we got very involved with the mud and we ended up with more in our hair than we did in our buckets. I have also been doing family workshops, where we have made personalised “oyster shells”, miniature houses and if we can possibly interpret my daughter’s school projects with a ceramic presentation, we have.

2. Give us a tour

The kiln here is kept in a retired tack room which I call ‘The Room of Broken Lights’ as it’s where I keep my flawed experiments. It is dark, atmospheric, almost nest-like and very cosy. At the beginning of lockdown, I felt that all of my creativity went into making the transition for our family as smooth as possible, there was a lot to emotionally process. As we settled into the “new normal”, I have been experimenting with firing different sands collected from beach trips, and playing with organic forms after seeing the fungi from the local woods.

3. Most surprising thing to have happened on lock down?

A couple of weeks ago I went to check on some work in progress, the kiln had been on so the room was warm and curled up on the floor, enjoying the heat, was an adder. My entrance caused it to slink away into a corner to hide amongst my tools and slip. Despite the knee-jerk reaction to run back to the city, I have come to be at peace with sharing a studio with a wild, venomous snake. It has become symbolic to me of these times – feeling vulnerable and scared, and choosing to respond with a desire to learn to cohabit more harmoniously with nature. I don’t know if the snake is still there, but I am more conscious as I move about, more respectful of my surroundings and my place in it.

We have loved watching the videos of Martha, and three generations of ladies in her family starting each day of lockdown with a tap dancing routine, CLICK HERE to watch the latest routine!

Susan McDermont

PA to Kit Kemp, Mother Hen to the design team and bible to Firmdale, Susan McDermont has shared her home space and how her days have changed during lockdown.

1. What has changed since working from home?

Not travelling a few hours to work each morning and evening means not getting up at the crack of dawn!

Working from home also prevents a regular part of my week which is visiting hotels and meeting with the managers and housekeepers which is so important; not only for the design of the hotels, but the strong relationship we have with everyone in each.

I miss the interaction with my team and the regular taps on the door asking questions! Our interactions are now via Zoom and it is so lovely to see the whole team every week.

2. Give us a tour

I have a small workspace as both myself and my husband work from home, he occupies the dining room and I sit on one of the sofas in the lounge. The space is lovely and bright and I can see the garden from where I sit.

Ted my dog often shares the area with me, once he is back from his walk over the heath every morning. He tends to sleep a lot in the morning.

3. What’s an important thing to do whilst working from home?

You need to have routine, no lounging around in PJs all day. Ensure you do the same as though you were going to go to the office, shower, and dress and be at your desk early to do a full day’s work.

4. Imagine life returns to normal tomorrow, what’s the first thing you’re going to do?

Have a huge family gathering and spend the whole day together, good food, home cooking, games in the field, and just enjoy those special moments again!

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