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The Art of the Great Outdoors

Since art has existed, artists have been inspired by the beauty of the natural world. Yet with more time spent indoors, never has it been more important for all of us to make our houses feel like a home.

 

This Spring-Summer, we wanted to honour our own pockets of nature at home and celebrate the Great Outdoors. Whether it’s a garden, a balcony, a park or an allotment, never have we valued these places more!

 

We worked with two London-based artists to create exclusive prints, as well as some original artworks, to be a part of our exciting Gardening story that’s due to transform the 2nd floor at Fortnum’s when we open 12th April. Here, you can get to know our artists! We gave them the brief: 'what does the Great Outdoors mean to you?’.

 

Lucy Mahon and Petri Prints' artwork will be available to purchase in Piccadilly from April 12th, with a selection available to purchase online now.


Lucy Mahon

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Shot by Catarina Mira

Lucy Mahon, artist and illustrator, consciously collects elements of the natural world around her and her surroundings. From flower-filled walks to open water swimming spots and nostalgia-inducing places, each moment becomes a treasure to be captured and seen with a renewed appreciation. Her resulting artworks are visual love letters to the world we live in and the precious experiences and places within it.

 

Drawn with soft pastel in her home studio, 'London Parks' is Lucy’s expression of the Great Outdoors. It's a vibrant collection that takes inspiration from the Fortnum’s famous bee hives atop our Piccadilly store, the flowers of nearby London parks and the bees that journey in between.

What message did you want to convey with your work?

"At its heart, this series is a celebration of pockets of greenery and wildlife in this wonderful city. I’ve definitely got a renewed appreciation for nature and the everyday joy it brings, parks and open spaces especially."

 

Is there a key theme in your work?

"It’s often based around rituals or places that bring me comfort, happiness, or a feeling of home. New work is often drawn from my weekly noting process - brief lists of words and phrases that capture recent experiences, the big or the everyday."

 

What does the ‘Great Outdoors’ mean to you?

"For me, the great outdoors has a way of putting things into perspective. I do love seeing new and epic, eye-opening feats of nature, but the moment I’m mostly looking forward to sitting in a park with family and friends."

Has lockdown had a significant impact on your creative process? And has it affected your art?

"Yes! I started working with soft pastels by chance, which meant for a big injection of colour (I used to mostly work in b&w). I drew a pastel piece a day which became a bit of a diary of things I did - what I had for lunch, what I spoke about with my family on the phone, things I saw on daily walks around Hackney. This process led to my first Wildflower pastel collection."

 

How would your work have looked different if you were doing a piece on The Great Outdoors before the pandemic?

"Most definitely monochrome and most likely travel led. I’ve been enjoying having these cheerful and colour-filled pieces and materials around me in the studio. They cheer up my walls; I stick up sketches, tests and plans as I go."

 

What about Fortnum's inspired you?

"The four bee hives on top of the Piccadilly store were a big inspiration for this collection. The honey harvested each year reflects the flowers available to them in the surrounding spaces; I loved finding out about how far they tend to travel and imagining the parks they might journey through. It’s an unexpected and beautiful blend of city and nature."


Petri Prints

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Petri Prints is a family-run wall art business where Rosie and her husband Ant work from their home studio on private bespoke antique commissions. With a background in food and science, Rosie is inspired by the graphic communication of science, food history and nature - and loves nothing more than preserving these snapshots of history as works of art.

 

To capture the theme of the Great Outdoors, their 'J. Andrews Floral Collection' was inspired by a series of floral botanicals from a set of illustrations by the notable 19th century artist J. Andrews. Originally published in the 1862 edition of The Floral Magazine, it featured beautiful hand-coloured plates and descriptions of popular garden flowers. They choose a set of four florals which would work equally well in terms of colour balance and composition whether hung as a set of four, or individuals.

 

Another intriguing source of inspiration for Petri Prints - one that brought to mind the Great Outdoors - was a set of antique lithographs produced during a scientific study on tea leaves during the 19th century, which became the focus of their 'Tea Leaf Collection'. They were struck by the abstract patterns and colour arrangements that almost looked floral, which evoked the theme of springtime, so they framed them in deliberately natural colours to make sure the hues popped.

What message did you want to convey with your work?

"Our artwork strives to mix the old with the new. Our lithographs are predominantly from the 18th and 19th century and are a wonderful snapshot of history. But we aim to bring these pieces to life with colourful or eclectic frames and mounts, that hopefully both do the art justice and bring some fun into your home."

 

Is there a key theme in your work?

"Our main themes revolve around science, nature and food history. Rosie (our founder and creative director) is a trained dietitian so science and food are the dream combination for her!"

 

What does the ‘Great Outdoors’ mean to you?

"Health, fresh air, freedom, movement and recuperation!"

Has lockdown had a significant impact on your creative process? And has it affected your art?

"Our back-story is a very sad one and lockdown has been difficult beyond words. Our son, Enzo, very sadly died in April during the 1st lockdown, aged just two and a half. Both of us had to stop working for 18 months prior to that while we helped care for Enzo who was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was just 11 months old. Starting Petri Prints a few months after he died gave us something to work towards. We miss him terribly every day but we know he'd be proud of Petri Prints and the work we've done. All the pain has meant we appreciate and cherish our time together as a family and that's a tribute to Enzo and the love we all shared."

 

How would your work have looked different if you were doing a piece on The Great Outdoors before the pandemic?

"Prior to the pandemic we had pretty much been in isolation from the world for 18 months while our son was undergoing treatment so we have long been inspired by The Great Outdoors. On a couple of occasions we were able to leave London and get some fresh air with Enzo, it was so exciting and heart-warming to see him embrace the space and nature surrounding him. And we were so appreciative of these simple, yet momentous moments."

 

What about Fortnum's inspired you?

"Our pieces are all steeped in tradition and history. It's great to work with such a renowned institution that mirrors so much of what our business stands for- respect for history, story-telling and above all, high quality."