Donna Huddleston Studio Visit
Hip Swedish designer Stine Goya, commissions an artist to create a signature print for her eponymous womenswear collection each season. For Spring Summer 2013 multi-disciplinary artist Donna Huddleston has been chosen, and during a recent visit to her studio, Huddleston describes her typical working day, elaborates on her sources of inspiration and nominates the humble pencil as her favourite design tool.
At what point did you realise you wanted to be an artist?
I always enjoyed drawing, which led me to art school in my twenties. I then went on to study theatre design as I became interested in storytelling and performance; this also involved a lot of costume and technical drawing. After working in the theatre and film industries for a few years I realised in my early thirties that what I really wanted to do was develop my own art practice. Drawing is one part of it; I also make sculptures and installations.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Film and theatre are still my main sources of inspiration, in particular early 20th century European avant-garde film. I’m also interested in all areas of design from fashion and textiles to interiors; the Wiener Werkstatte and Bauhaus both influence my work.
Define your design identity
I’m often identified by my stylised use of modernist motifs that decorate my female figures.
Design by hand or the computer?
Your favourite drawing/ design tool?
What do you love most about your studio/workspace?
It’s perched above a driveway like a treehouse. Also the interior has a pitched beamed ceiling, which gives it an airy feel, and a Seventies glass wall and sliding door that I love. Its character is very welcoming.
Describe your typical work day/week?
I arrive at the studio early to make the most of the day, potter for about 30 minutes and then work solidly for about 4 to 5 hours. I then usually run to pick up my son from nursery. I go to the studio five days a week and also teach art to children two afternoons a week. I can tend to work a little at night too.
Lunch in the studio is?
At the moment lots of soups brought from home or leftovers. I also like having small snacks throughout the day instead of lunch – avocado, cheese, and crackers, that sort of thing.
Lunch out is?
A coffee on the go. I mainly eat in the studio.
Cut flowers or pot plants?
Pot plants, especially ferns.
Favourite time of day? Night owl or early riser?
Favourite local shop?
I love hunting for treasures in the run down second hand furniture shops underneath the arches. It’s getting harder and harder to find things and you really have to hunt through lots of old mattresses and musty armchairs but I recently found a Ladderax shelving system in great condition – treasure!
My paintbrush cleaning soap, ‘The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver’. I’ve only recently started using it and it’s saving my brushes from an early grave.
Anywhere with the sea and sunshine, especially in Southern Italy.
Current music/ book/ magazine/ film?
I’m engrossed in Geoff Dyer’s book ‘Zona’ a shot by shot account of Tarkovsky’s film Stalker. Shuffle on my ipod is reintroducing me to all my old music, I’ve fallen in love with Bobby Conn again. I think Gentlewoman magazine is absolutely amazing and I’m currently re-watching some Fassbinder films, particularly ‘Martha’ for some costume inspiration.
Upcoming projects/ commissions of interest? Describe?
I’ve recently finished a commission for fashion designer Stine Goya. I created a drawing for her annual artist’s print; it’s for the Spring Summer 2013 collection. I’m currently working on devising a performance, my first! It’s a dance piece with seven women, staged to original musical compositions on the triangle. So I’m making lots of studies and drawings in the studio related to that. It’s to be performed in London in the summer.