A MORNING IN
SHYAMA RUFFELL'S GARDEN STUDIO
Imagine a rainy weekday in February. Imagine popping in on a friend, a warm welcome and a hot cup of coffee. Imagine then a wet winter garden. At the end of that garden is a beautiful bespoke studio, built solely as a work space for a painter of plants. This is where Shyama Ruffell works. This is where her magic happens.
Shyama's work is all about plants - summer meadows, jazzy jungles and hot cactus collections. Plus there's a love of bugs and butterflies too. Her training and early career was in textiles and this is still evident in both her compositions and the line element of her work. I love Shyama's drawings - they are an extension of her seeing. There are always pens and pencils and paper on her kitchen table and whoever gathers there - it's a house busy with the traffic of family and friends, all creative beings - gets stuck in.
Shyama's daily sketch books are filled with spontaneous, strong studies of leaf shapes, plant forms and intricately oberved insects. With these in mind I asked her to concentrate on some drawing- based work for a new collection for us. To strip things back to the essence of the shape and texture. Last week I went to see what she had been working on. And, wow!
Pinned to the walls were 5 or 6 huge sheets of plain paper with 'almost finished' compositions filled with architectural shapes and beautiful textures. Still the same motifs but they look like they've been given a sort of super protein powder for plants. There are some elements of colour but just in suggestion. My particular favourites are the monotone palms which are so beautifully observed they look like they're alive. These works are filled with mark and shade and interest.
Shyama's space is alive with the buzz of a busy artist. One end has her computer desk and huge silver retro filing cabinet to keep track of all the business. Shyama also produces prints of her work and uses reproductions in some of her collage work so there's a specialist giclee printer too. Another area has a painting desk which looks back down the garden to her house. A cabinet top is covered with brushes and seed pod stems and giant leaves and cactus plants are scattered over surfaces and shelves.
It's always fun to visit Shyama - never the 'quick pop in' we plan for as there is always so much to talk about. I feel very fortunate to call her a friend as well as a colleague, whom I have worked with for nearly 20 years and have had some incredibly memorable laughs with. Her friends call her Shammy. And these new works are 'Shammy' through and through. I'm really looking forwards to showing them to our customers.
2017 Exhibitions & Plans
March 10-12: The Affordable Art Fair Battersea
FOUR-WALLS stand K9
Throughout May: Open House for Brighton Festival
May 12 - 14: The Affordable Art Fair Hampstead Heath
FOUR-WALLS stand K3