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As part of our newest collection, The Beetle, Annoushka teams up with Patricia Mitchell, a mixed-media artist and sculptor, to create a nature-inspired frenzy in the windows of our flagship boutiques. Inspired by Annoushka’s love of nature’s delicate forms and her passion for colour, Patricia’s windows not only celebrate Annoushka’s designs but also the wonderful creature who plays an integral part in our natural world. Patricia's art champions the natural world using intricately cut paper forms alongside extraordinary beetles, ethically sourced from across the world, to creatures sculpted in aluminium mesh coated with 24ct gold. She aims to highlight our extraordinary ecosystem through her art.
Art and design is in my bones. My father is an engineer and my mother, a sculptor. If I do not think of a design or sculpt on a daily basis I feel the day is incomplete. I am a stereotypical working mother juggling a mad home life and a business which never seems to go to sleep. I do not have any help so I probably run my life on overload – I love being busy and running at 100mph! Nature has always been my mainstay, and my botanical art resonates through the changing seasons. Walking my great big elephant of a Labrador through the woods and fields which surround our house, gives me not only time to clear my head and breathe, but also hands me golden inspiration into the palm of my hand.
The day I handed in my notice, my boss shook me by the hand and gave me his blessing which meant a huge amount. He knew I was ready for a change and so did I. I had worked so hard from starting out as a receptionist at 18 and by the time I was 34, I was designing and managing business centres in Mayfair.
I had three months worth of salary saved up; had a Plan A; a Plan B; a part-time job (I set up a dog walking business). I moved slowly, carefully, read and listened. I devoured the life that being in an office never gave me. I cried a lot and had a few sleepless nights but if I hadn’t experienced any hardships, I wouldn’t have gained any determination to carry on. It is out there if you really want it.
I grew up surrounded by an enormous menagerie of animals - we even had a pet magpie for a while. Bats would swoop down the chimneys at night and flutter around in our bedrooms, we fed hedgehogs in the garden and my best friend and I had a very busy worm hospital. I have always had a very deep connection with the natural world. During a work sabbatical, I drove 14,000 miles across Africa ending up with the Born Free Foundation working with baboons, tracking elephants and being part of a zebra translocation programme. It was those days in Africa that penetrated my soul, so emulating my memories through my work seem to come naturally.
Beetles are an incredibly important to our eco system. They aerate the soil, pollinate blossoms, and control insect and plant pests. By feeding on leaves and fallen trees for example, they recycle nutrients back into the soil helping to create a rich layer of top soil that helps plants grow. Annoushka’s new collection of beetle jewellery isn’t just absolutely stunning, it also celebrates a little known bug which plays an integral part of our natural world. Therefore these adorable creatures should be celebrated - in neon lights!
The white paper sculptures shown within the shop display cabinets brings us back to the natural world. The colour white is an inherently positive colour. It is associated with purity, light, spirituality, protection, softness, and perfection. The exact words which I associate with Annoushka’s stunning new collection.
Annoushka and I have a deep and natural connection with nature. I adore working with creative people and so being asked to collaborate on designing this launch was a dream come true. To give myself a deeper understanding of beetles, I imported a box full of extraordinary beetles from an entomologist in Australia. I was overwhelmed with the variety of shapes and colors, beauty and elegance, much like Annoushka’s new collection.
Designing shop windows and visual merchandising is something that I have never done. It was pretty daunting task at first, an enormous responsibility, but the more I became involved with the creative team, the more I enjoyed the process. I have been displaying my paper sculpture in Perspex boxes for some years now, so to be able to use naturally edge lit Perspex in a cut form was such fun to do. Framing the beetles just put the finishing touches to the design. The layered paper technique is also new to me and it is something that I would like to explore further using shadow and light as part of my new body of work.
I draw inspiration from every day. I am at my most happiest and most natural when I am outside – whatever the weather. I especially love being in the woods. Trees give me an enormous amount of strength, so when I’m having a not so good day, I will make sure to take my ‘elephant’ Labrador into the woods for an extra long walk. After which, my creative juices are flowing and I’m eager to get back into the studio.
Everything. Jewellery doesn’t have to be expensive for it to have true meaning. My engagement ring is my most precious piece I have. It does not come from anywhere special at all. It signifies the incredible journey that my husband and I have been on for the last 8 years. If he would offer me a massive diamond ring as a replacement, I would put it on my other hand.
These past few months, I have also been working on an installation for a large hotel group using 1,000-year-old drift wood, and sculpting 40 elephants out of aluminum mesh coated with 24ct gold. The elephants will be marching, chatting and hiding in amongst the nooks and crannies of the twists and turns of the wood. Through my art, I would like to help people have a deeper understanding and respect of the natural world. Animals and forests are being destroyed daily and if words and TV programmes are not making a difference then hopefully my art will capture some attention somewhere!
The tsunami of 2004 hit Sri Lanka in a big way. Only months before, a dear friend and I were on a 4-week tour there. During our stay we made friends with this wonderful man who had a beautiful gem shop close to the beach (we had been recommended him by a few of our friends). We spent time with him, learning about stones and trying on all sorts of jewels. I came away with the most beautiful blue square cut topaz pendant. Topaz is not my birthstone, but it is a stone that I am immediately drawn to. Sadly, his shop was washed away when the wave hit and I do not know if he survived or not. Only the other day I lost this charm for 48 hours. The sense of failure was awful. My daughter and I searched high and low for it, it was nowhere to be seen. I was overcome with an unexpected deep sense of grief. Jewellery isn’t about money, it is about meaning. This topaz stone has accompanied me and given me strength on some incredible journeys – it is my faithful friend and my companion. Luckily, a momentary thought of inspiration led me to the rubber rim of the washing machine and there it was, having been put through a 2.5 hr cycle in the pocket of my jeans! It came out very shiny indeed!
My engagement ring of course.
A blue topaz. It brings joy, generosity, abundance and good health. It is known as a stone of love and good fortune. Everything we need in life right?