I have only met and chatted to Mark Hearld on four occasions and Emily Sutton twice, but it is clear from their home , their work and their love of all things design that Art for them is simply a way of life . It does not stop with a sketch , a water colour or oil on board put permeates every conceivable medium and oozes out of every corner of their home in York. Mark is a self confessed collector and fan of such greats as John Piper, Edward Bawden, Julian Trevelyan along with Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant , another two great artists who had an eye for colour and design.
We visited the house in York last weekend when Mark and Emily held an open studio and I was fascinated by, not only the quite wonderful art for sale but also, the eclectic collections of toys , corn dollies, Staffordshire china dogs, and folk art in its widest sense. In fact , I was so taken with it that I felt an overwhelming urge to buy a large water colour by Emily of the Yellow fireplace in the front room of their house. It has every detail in fabulous colour tones and shows Emily's work at its best. It is yet to be delivered by Mark but I just cannot wait to hang it in our home to add to our own very eclectic art collection. Mark will also be delivering our other purchases a ceramic horse and a fantastic collage of a pigeon called "Bo" and two Silkie chickens. It is not just ourselves who are fans of Hearld and Sutton, we arrived at the open studio only 15 minutes after it opened finding the house full of people and Mark rushing around sticking red dots on work as quickly as physically possible. I could not help but reflect on the Great Bardfield open houses in the 1950's which were such a great success and helped put the art and design of those talented artists such as Bawden, Aldridge, Rothenstein ,Cheese, and Robinson firmly in the minds of the post war generation.
I am loath to link the work of either Mark or Emily to any one or two greats from the past but there is clearly a Ravilious influence in the shop fronts produced by Emily which are reminiscent of the High Street illustrations for the 1938 book by that title, and more than a touch of Piper and Bawden in the Collage and Lino cuts produced by Mark. But it is impossible to categorise their work, and why would you want to, they are unique in their variety and thirst for new ways of expressing themselves in art and design.We feel privileged to have added their work to our own personal collection and find it both uplifting and colourful which is all one can ask for in a work of art and design.
A few months ago we attended an evening talk by Mark in Saffron Walden , and he gave a fantastic insight to his work and his inspirations . It was there that ,for the first time, I became aware of his ceramic figurative work. I was aware of his collaboration with the master potter Terry Shone producing some," to die for",platters and tiles but not of his ceramic horses which he had used when he curated his display in The Lumber Room at York Art Gallery. He explained how he had been on a weekend to Berlin, Germany and had found an old wooden horse in a flea market. He purchased it and on his return to York decided to use it to cast ceramic horses with the assistance of a low volume ceramics manufacturer in Stoke on Trent. Since the day of his talk we have coveted one, so it was great to find that Mark had produced another batch of 9 for his open studio and it took only a few minutes for the decision to be made and a red dot to be applied to the chosen one. They are, colourful, simple, and a new 21st century spin on an old traditional form of decorative art. His work is alive as is that of Emily's and the combination of influence from the greats of the past with the design needs of today, produces this fusion of folk art,craft and tradition which still resonates with the modern world as some of us try to hang on to the "make do and mend" philosophy of the past.
To say we are fans of Emily and Mark would be an understatement , but do not just listen to my views go and seek out their work , it ranges from a few hundred pounds for a limited edition print, so is accessible to all . Their work makes me smile and feel better about the day ahead and that is a wonderful skill to possess and I can not wait to see what new work they produce in the coming months .