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The story behind...our new Milkky print!

October 17, 2016

Mölkky is a Finnish skittle game that I discovered during my residency at Arteles last summer when another artist on the residency returned from a shopping trip with a set of wooden skittles in their basket. It became a kind of after dinner ritual – where we would all put our work to one side and spend an hour or so just playing.


At the time I didn’t realise that this would lead to a new print design or be part of a new collection, nor did I realise the importance of this time to play that was a huge part of this residency for me. It took me out of my usual comfort zone (with a sheet of newsprint, scalpel, screen and a squeegee) to experiment, explore and try new things with a complete sense of ‘play’

Like Cove Park (my first residency experience back at the start of Laura Spring in 2011 and coincidentally is where I am writing this post delivering a series of play inspired print workshops for children), I arrived at Arteles without a pre-determined idea of what I wanted to create. I knew that Finland had always inspired me with their love of design and of course, it is home to Marimkekko and the Arabia factory who I love dearly, but I had no idea what would happen whilst I was there or where my work would go.

The time to ‘play’ with coloured crayons, pencils, lino, photography, chalk, blackboards and skittle games was exactly what was needed in order to loosen up my hands again and begin new developments for my work.

This print needed to have sense of this playfulness I experienced, whilst retaining a graphic sensibility, but I wanted there to be a fluidity to it, a sense of movement that I hope I’ve created with the structure and colour. Despite creating more complex pattern designs, I returned to a simple aesthetic that seemed to deliver those ideals for me.


However, this print is just the start of a new body of work and perhaps attitude adapted by my residency in Finland. Even though it is now over a year ago, ideas are just starting to take shape and plans for exciting future projects forming…non of which I could have dreamed of without that month in the rural Finnish countryside learning from a group of people I’d never met before and the freedom to ‘play’.


One of my favourite Ted talks is by Stefan Sagmeister called 'The Power of Time Off' who explains that he shuts his design studio every seventh year to allow for exactly that. It’s a really interesting idea and although it may sound like a luxury, I think if it’s a possibility, even in a smaller capacity of a month of even a week, it’s something that can enrich and enhance every practice.

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