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Nicole Phillips England from Easebourne - Sussex maker of the month

PUBLISHED: 16:36 15 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:36 15 December 2014

Simon Eldon 2012

As a small child, Nicole Phillips England was passionate about becoming an artist. "I suffered from dyslexia," she says. "And I got tremendous satisfaction and a boost to my self-confidence by being good at art."

It hasn’t always been easy though, as she was in and out of hospital as a child and suffered from a degenerative hip problem. “But I was determined to make it to art college. And after having my hip replaced I made it to Bath College of Art, where I studied for my BA Hons in Ceramics.”

After college, Nicole set up her own ceramic studio, which she ran for a few years before marrying and having children. “I continued to do my watercolour paintings and sold them at fairs and did commissions. It was in the summer of 2012 that I came up with the concept of putting my watercolours onto fabric,” she recalls. “This opened up a whole new medium to me and the possibilities were endless. The transformation from a two-dimensional artwork to a three-dimensional, functional but beautiful piece was very exciting. It gave me that same buzz that I got from opening the kiln to see a finished ceramic piece.”

Of all her pieces, Nicole says that she loves her linen Kissing Mackerel cushion the most. “It has a subtle sense of fun and the colours are muted but beautiful.”

For others wanting to pursue a career in art, she advises that “with anything creative it is really important to find a look that is unique to you, don’t just emulate. Have a good, rounded team to support you. Don’t be frightened to bring in financial or digital marketing expertise as this can really help move your business forward. For me, quality is really important so I have had to search long and hard for suppliers that met my high expectations.”

Nicole has spent the vast majority of her life living in Sussex. “I spent some time when I was very young abroad in the Bahamas, but moved back to West Sussex when I was nine and have never left. I adore the coastline and the South Downs.”

She goes on to say that the Sussex seascape has been a huge influence on her work. “I am a coastal girl and it really shows in my work. All of my creative life has been inspired by the natural world, whether it be walking in the countryside or by the sea. I adore going to large markets and seeing the beautiful vegetables, fruit and flowers piled high. Taking something that is potentially ordinary and looking closely at its form and subtle colours so that you see it in a whole new way, such as my Asparagus fabric.”

Nicole says that she doesn’t keep many of her pieces, but recently she has allowed herself one little luxury. “I was doing up my dining room recently, and had my curtains made up in my Flowering Artichoke linen fabric. It was at this point that I really appreciated I was officially a fabric textiles designer.”

01243 684036; www.nicolephillips.com

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