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MEET: Kirsty Elson

Anna Stassen meets talented multidisciplinary artist, Kirsty Elson. You may have already come across her magical work made from upcycled driftwood and other objects beachcombed from our own British shores. We find out about her fascination with found objects and what makes her tick.

 Kirsty Elson

What is the story behind your work?

I'm drawn to all things coastal and nautical, whether it be natural objects or fabrics or whatever. Even though I work in a range of mediums (media?) it's the seaside theme that ties it all together.

Your work seems to take a great deal of inspiration from your environment, what inspires you most about your surroundings

The found objects that wash up on our shores. I am completely led by their shape and form - I don't have an idea in my head and try to find driftwood to fit, it's completely the other way around. I find that quite exciting.

Driftwood pieces

Can you tell us about your fascination with found objects and a bit about your process of turning these into finished designs?

I love the idea of turning a banal object into something of beauty. So many people wouldn't give the 'rubbish' on the beach a second glance - and yet it can be transformed into something highly decorative. I like to use wood with layers of peeling paint: different colours and textures are very important in my work.

You are a multidisciplinary designer-maker, are you drawn to one discpline more than the others? 

Well, the driftwood side is the part I love best, I also do collages using tiny scraps of magazines (these are mostly commission-only) and the textiles side is probably my least favourite - though these things probably appeal to more people.

Harbour Collage


Polperro Collage

What is your favourite piece you have ever created and why?

One of my favourite pieces was done quite recently - it's called 'Rough Sea'. It's actually a very simple piece: just a row of cottages with a red flag 'flying', but it's the paint on the 'sea' which makes it special. There's real movement in that water - and the piece of wood was exactly like that when I found it. There's no way I could recreate that kind of effect!

Driftwood pieces

Have you always been a keen artist/creator?

I always loved drawing as a child and knew by my teens that I wanted to go to art college. Even in the time I had a 9 to 5 job, it never left me. I've always made presents and cards for friends and family - and it's something I encourage my boys to do now.

Can you tell us a bit about where you create your beautiful work, can we take a sneaky peek at your workshop/studio/office?

I'm very lucky to have my own studio which is light and airy - I spent many years working at the family table which was far from ideal. My workspace is an absolute haven for me!

Do you have a place of inspiration, somewhere you go regularly to recharge your creative batteries?

It's probably an obvious answer, but it's got to be the beach. In all weathers! Whitsand Bay is my favourite.


Who or what inspires you most in your life?

That would have to be my sister, Amy, who is a most talented and successful jewellery designer. She encouraged me to take the plunge, and consequently forced me to write a blog and start selling online!

How do you get the word out about your business?

My blog (http://sixtyonea.blogspot.com) and also Facebook which has been absolutely brilliant for me. It can be quite a lonely affair working by yourself - it's good to have these sites where people can give you ideas and feedback.

If you had the time to learn one new skill what would it be?

Definitely crochet! I AM going to learn how to do it one of these days!

Where can we buy your work ?

My own website www.kirstyelsondesigns.co.uk

My Folksy shop www.kirstyelson.folksy.com

My Etsy shop  www.etsy.com/shop/kirstyelson

I also supply a small range to The Cry Of The Gulls gallery in Fowey, Baxters gallery in Dartmouth and Janet Bell Gallery in Beaumaris.