We're Swatching You
West London, the story goes, is the patch with exuberance and a hint of swagger. It's the fabulous striped trousers to East London's skinny black jeans. The fashion is brighter here and the cocktails have larger umbrellas. But is this true? Or have we been misled by the painted houses of Notting Hill?
Four local artists and designers took a walk in the neighbourhood and snapped the colours that caught their eye.
Conker, peat, and cognac brown: designer Penelope Chilvers
Chilvers makes robust cult footwear inspired by traditional Spanish riding boots, practical and beautiful shoes for adventurous feet. She spotted browns in Notting Hill.
Tell us about the colours on your walk. Are there any you noticed that you haven't seen before? Although this walk is full of colour, brown is my favourite colour. It's warm and inviting and all the best leathers we use are natural browns and tans in the winter. Conker, chestnut, oak, peat, and cognac and tans make up the colours we use the most. My constant inspiration is equestrian leather work; a polished brown saddle has all the tones that I love. I have to stick up for brown a lot! For many years the colour black has been a bestseller, giving obvious neutrality to an outfit. But think of the brown walls in the sexy Berlin apartment in The Lives of Others!
How does colour play a role in your work? Both my shops are tones of different greens that I mixed myself. Ledbury Road is the colour of light passing through oak leaves, and Duke Street is a mint green that I remember seeing in an agricultural seed store in Catalonia, Spain. The brown and white tiles (above) are a reference to the natural leathers we use throughout all the collections. They have become a signature detail at Penelope Chilvers.
Cherry reds and chequered blue: illustrator Petra Börner
The painstaking papercut style that Börner employs breathes life into her delicate portrayals of the natural world. She walked from Ladbroke Grove to Bayswater.
There are quite a few photos of graffiti in your set. This month, we interviewed a graffiti artist who said, "If a wall is neglected, it’s a graffiti artist’s duty to do something about it." Do you agree with him that it can enhance urban environments, or is it always vandalism? I didn't consider or value the use of graffiti as such, I was just responding to colour generally with an open mind, documenting my surroundings and the graffiti was part of it. I don't think tagging is beautiful and it makes the city look tired and messy, but it reflects the people who live there and who are present. It makes it feel lived in. I like it when I see great skill, confidence and message combined in any art form.
Some artists use colour instinctively, whereas others are analytical or even pick colours with hidden meanings. What about you; how do you use colour? I use colour intuitively. I find colour using different materials. In fact, it's often the starting point to my work and I'm intrigued of how a shade can radiate so differently depending on the surface. I like to seek out tricky combinations and test them, like red and greens. I often marvel that we can't possibly know that two people see the same colour. I'm often told that I am good with colour – perhaps that means I have a palette or taste shared by many?
A patchwork of paint and concrete: Sam Paget-Steavenson of Rum Runner
Rum Runner infuse shrubs, prod fresh fruit and agonise over bar decor in a quest for excellent event cocktails. Paget-Steavenson went south to Portobello Road.
What do you enjoy about this route? Looking over the photos you took, does anything surprise you about the details you picked out? The starkness of the concrete Trellick Tower is such a contrast to the quirky antique shops and multicoloured-terraced houses. I passed market stalls selling everything from Victorian trinkets, Jamaican-themed merchandise and fresh vibrant fruit and vegetables. It's a brilliant mix of colours, sounds and smells.
What role does colour play in enjoying the perfect cocktail? Colour plays a large role in my work, from the drinks themselves to our bar set-ups and their styling. The colour of a cocktail will always come from the natural produce. If the ingredients result in a bland-looking drink, we often use a vibrant-coloured garnish to bring life to its look.
Bright flags and neon plastic: artist Julika de Fouw
The discipline of De Fouw's classical training is evident in paintings that appreciate their subjects. She followed bold hues under the Westway.
Your photos pick out lots of bright colours and neons, which some people love and some hate. Could you talk a little about your associations when it comes to bright colours? I'm forever photographing colours or putting things together to see how colours work and react. I have almost a physical reaction, or maybe an instinctive one – quite primal. It makes me feel good or bad, I get excited, it can enrapture me. Colour has fascinated me since I was young. I remember putting t-shirts in a pile to see how the colours work together. It's also an important part of my work obviously, being a painter. My tones are quite muted, but I like putting a little colour pop in that lifts the whole painting. Just a tiny smudge of red or bright yellow is enough.
Our In Colour series explores the elusive and surprising phenomenon of colour in cities, with artists Craig and Karl as guest editors. The pair are working on a secret commission to transform one of White City's unloved spaces.
Share this article