Walking Through Flowers

Claire Coles 

with Louise Farnes & Par Avion

18th May – 26th June 2021

The Fairhurst Gallery presents Walking Though Flowers, an exhibition celebrating how the act of slowing down can allow for a heightened appreciation of the intricate details, soft coloured tones and pleasure the surrounding natural world can inspire. Spring time and the uplifting, revitalising qualities of blooming flora with the air of rebirth and fresh beginnings, is encapsulated by exhibiting artist Claire Coles, in her Norwich debut. The exhibition sees Claire, accompanied by local creative makers, Louise Farnes and Par Avion, document her journey through flowers since resettling in Norfolk in her decorative surface patterns, from appliqué, embroidery to print. 

Experiencing and adapting to a new way of life over the last year has created an abundance of challenges, however Walking Through Flowers pinpoints the positive attributes that a slowed down pace of living has brought. More than ever solace has been found in nature, from the highlight of a daily walk through parks and fields, passing neighbours gardens, to the sound of bird song through an open window. These moments have felt precious. The exhibition reflects on natures power to calm and uplift spirits, whilst adopting a shifting view from that of considering that a fast pace is central to modern living and instead slowing it right down. From taking guidance and inspiration in noticing finer details, to a focus on the handcrafted; the natural and organic use of hands in the making process resulting in a unique and bespoke piece with an intricate, personal feel, its value tied up in the skill, time and care taken over its creation.  

Claire Coles’ work resonates with this sentiment as she combines materials such as silks, gold leaf and faux leather with freehand embroidery, using the foot of her sewing machine much alike a pencil, working with a sense of fluidity over the fabric, creating organic lines and a liquid movement to her pieces. Influenced by flora and fauna, her patterns take on an ethereal quality as they appear to blossom into life on the textural surfaces of Claires luxurious motifs. Walking Through Flowers showcases a collection of Claire’s pieces, her reinterpretation of the living world, and documentation of how she has found comfort and delight from her Norfolk countryside surroundings, through a variety of textile processes. After 17 years living and working in London, where her couture style led to collaborations with an array of brands such as Perrier Jouét, Missoni, Liberty, Paul Smith and the V&A Shop, among others, the Fairhurst Gallery is pleased to work with Claire in her first exhibition back in her home city of Norwich. 

Alongside Claire Coles pieces, the installation also features ceramics by Suffolk based studio potter, Louise Farnes. Louise hand throws contemporary, one of a kind pieces designed for functional living, completing them in a range of vivid, gloss glazes for a stylish and decorative finish. In line with the significance of a slower paced existence encapsulated in Walking Through Flowers, Louise alike Claire, also reallocated from London, now allowing the gentle Suffolk landscape to inform and influence her pottery. 

The Walking Through Flowers exhibition features bespoke furniture work by Par Avion co.; a  Norfolk based design duo consisting of Monica and Simon Cass. Their backgrounds in furniture making and architecture provide the backbone of their designs, which combine traditional craft and modern styling to create unique pieces. Par Avion’s hand crafted, signature Pi Stool collections embody aspects of furniture making, wood turning, basket making, seat weaving, wood carving and pottery. Using carefully, locally sourced natural and renewable materials, Par Avion are focussed on sustainability and preserving the environment, taking inspiration from the raw natural materials and showcasing them in their timeless furniture designs.