Gilded Pleasures by TENNANT & TENNANT is a new interiors collection launched by sisters Isabel and Stella Tennant at their first major London exhibition.
This selling show presented at Ben Pentreath Ltd, 49 Lambs Conduit St, London, WC1 is open to the public from Friday 12th to Monday 15th September, 11am-6pm.
‘I’m thrilled to be able to showcase the extraordinary work of the sisters Issy and Stella Tennant. Their first collection of lamps, mirrors and objects—gessoed, burnished and water-gilded—represent the combination of their many worlds, a place where fashion and fine art meets natural history and craft made by hand. Like Issy and Stella themselves, their work is rooted in the country but is at home everywhere – fascinating, curious, multi- facteted and glittering. I can’t wait to see the early 18th century rooms of our studio in Lambs Conduit Street transformed – for a few extraordinary days – into a beautiful cabinet of curiosities and delights to launch Stella and Issy’s collection.’ Ben Pentreath
Isabel Tennant and her younger sister Stella grew up in the Scottish Borders. Isabel was trained as a gilder and decorative artist at City and Guilds Art School, London. Stella went to Winchester College of Art where she specialised in sculpture and learnt to weld. Isabel and Stella now share a studio in Scotland where they hand make lamp bases, mirrors, carved flowers and decorative panels. Together they explore water gilding and oil gilding, traditional techniques that have not changed for hundreds of years and are identical to those used by Renaissance artists and craftsmen.
The gold leaf is burnished using polished agate to give a high shine. Sometimes it is then rubbed down so as to see the coloured clay or watercolour beneath. Gold leaf comes in many shades from rose pink ‘Moon Gold’ to pale green ‘Lemon Gold’ as well as classic yellows. Silvery palladium and caplain are also used. The sisters are both fascinated by the natural world and designs take inspiration from insects and plants. Others are based on Japanese geometric patterns.
Giant hexagons loomed large in the world of legendary English interior designer David Hicks. That and a flamboyant personality and bold use of colour (Coca-Cola and Yellow Duster) that made him one of the most successful interior decorator’s of the 1960s.
In the October issue of House & Garden his son Ashley Hicks describes how he has redecorated a rented flat in west London. ‘My old bed hangings held by a giant hexagonal, with David Hicks by Ashley Hicks embroidered headboard and its hexagonal design repeated in huge scale on the bedspread. Screens on either side were covered with Cole& Son’s ‘Hick’s Grand’ paper – more hexagons.’
Ashley Hicks has reissued some of his father’s geometric patterns but in new guises and in a more earthy palette. One of his latest collaboration sees his hexagons take to the floor with original carpet collaboration with Alternative Flooring.
‘I was keen to make a hexagon-based design that was new and different, with a random edge to its geometry rather than the usual symmetrical, formal layout. Playing around with this idea, I came up with ‘Chainmail’. Having grown up surrounded by Seventies geometrics, I love them, and very much wanted that quality in the design, but mixed with a more contemporary style.
I’m using this design in my own apartment in London, where I’ve painted the hessian-covered walls with Greek muses in an ivy bower against a panorama of Constantinople in 1818. ‘Chainmail’ will provide just the right contemporary contrast to the painting.’
Chainmail is one of the patterns that features in the new Quirky B carpet collection launched by Alternative Floorings.
Pentreath & Hall and Fine Cell Work have joined forces to create a striking collection of needlework cushions to be launched at the London Design Festival.
Pentreath & Hall’s two graphic designs ‘Falling Cubes’ and ‘Tetrahedron’, based on stone floor and marble patterns by the great 18th century designer Batty Langley, are stitched in six bold, bright colour combinations including mixtures of pink, blue, chartreuse and red, alongside softer grey tones.
Ben Pentreath says that;
“Working with Fine Cell Work has been one of the most exciting collaborations of the year, for Bridie and me. We love their brilliant work and it was an absolute pleasure to be asked to design a range of cushions with them. The bold, vibrantly coloured Geometric patterns of our wrapping paper and books worked beautifully, rescaled in needlepoint; and seeing the skill with which our initial ideas have been translated into reality is a joy”.
Fine Cell work is a registered charity and social enterprise that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework – undertaken in the long hours spent in their cells – to foster hope, discipline and self esteem. This helps them to connect to society and to leave prison with the confidence and financial means to stop offending.
Currently some 250 prisoners in 24 UK prisons are participating in Fine Cell Work workshops or projects and there are numerous prisoners on its waiting lists. Prisoners are paid approximately a third of the selling price of their completed projects.
On undertaking the new designs, one prisoner commented
“I enjoyed the challenge of stitching this design and also seeing the pattern stand out as the tapestry increased. This was when the 3D image became apparent and also grew in perspective.”