Against all the odds Fine Art graduate finds success with her new Applied Arts venture Peachy Panther; selling worldwide and producing a large scaled commission for Selfridges, post lockdown Good Nature launch in London.

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Graduating in the summer of 2020 during the ongoing national lockdown was never going to be easy, particularly for an Arts graduate. However one Fine Art graduate from the University of Bolton hit upon a way to harness her interests and creativity through an entrepreneurial approach to the situation she found herself in.

With people confined to their homes, finding comfort and joy in their domestic surroundings was never more prevalent than in 2020. Abbie Detheridge winner of a British Council Venice Fellowship award 2019 and neo:arts residency 2020, graduated with a first class honours in Fine Art in the summer of 2020.

She faced some daunting challenges on how to begin her career as a freelance Fine Artist. With the prospect of having to move back to her parents with no job Abbie began to learn a new skill of tufting. Combining her love of Art and Fashion with textiles Abbie set up Peachy Panther an online art rug business through Instagram and etsy. She didn’t know what reception she’d get but felt she really had nothing to loose.

She was to be pleasantly surprised. She sold her first piece to a collector in New York. Though her main sales are UK based , Abbie’s rugs have been shipped to Sweden, The Netherlands, Canada, and Thailand. In reflecting on the popularity of her work Abbie says ‘There is something so warming knowing my work is taking up residence in people homes in countries and even UK towns I have never visited!’

More recently Abbie was commissioned to make a 210 x195 cm block colour scenic rug by Selfridges, London to be a part of their ‘Good Nature’ Launch when stores re-opened after lockdown. Abbie said ‘This rug was absolutely unreal to work, the pressure felt much stronger to be perfect, but the design and timing just felt right and has sparked further interest in commissions since.’

Rebecca Sitar lecturer in Fine Art caught up with Abbie recently for an interview and was delighted to hear how well she was doing

RS Could you tell us a little more about yourself, where you grew up and why you chose to study at the University of Bolton? 

AD so, I grew up in Derbyshire and spent a lot of my childhood painting with my grandad and two sisters, I am sure this is where my passion for Art began! As far back as I can remember I have always been interested in Art and Fashion, honestly always thought I would take the textiles/fashion route, but I chose to come to The University of Bolton to further educate myself on what I really wanted to pursue through the foundation course, after hearing such great things about the course and tutors. 

RS Has interest grown in your rugs since you began it. Are your buyers mainly from the UK or further afield? 

AD Interest has grown a lot in my rugs since the beginning, with confidence in myself I have pushed to create larger rugs and mini collections which began to grab more attention and inspired many more designs for future projects. The first sale I made was actually posted to New York! Though the main chunk of my sales has been UK based I have shipped rugs to Sweden, The Netherlands, Canada, and Thailand among others. There is something so warming knowing my work is taking up residence in people homes in countries and even UK towns I have never visited! 

RS What gave you the inspiration to set up as a freelance applied artist & how did you come up with Peachy Panther?? 

AD After a difficult ending to my final year at university due to covid lockdown, realising I could no-longer afford to live alone due to Covid-19 restrictions affecting my hours at work, I was faced with the fact I would be moving back to my parents with no job. However, I had learnt a new skill during this time and thought here goes nothing, I made a few samples mini rugs and Peachy Panther just naturally came alongside, I rolled with the name creating new accounts and an Etsy page. 

At the time I knew I wanted to continue on to do a Masters in Fine Art once restrictions had calmed as a result, I wanted to keep my rugs and my ‘practice’ separate; I didn’t see them as one yet, fast forward a year, I wonder if it was a mistake separating the two as I now see this as my main practice and I can see the way my work evolved. 

RS The colour palettes and designs you create. are they influenced by anything, or do they evolve intuitively?  

Wow this is something I have learnt about myself and my practice on this journey! Designs and colours and the need to create what I visualise and feel drawn to has always been at the forefront of my work. Ideas have always come and evolved through the process of making and the feeling of materials. Creating rugs has pushed me to understand why I enjoyed creating immersive spaces through my work. 

I find the thought of Art being a part of everyday life fascinating, a comfort blanket, something that makes your space yours, an individual experience. My rugs though evolve through process they begin as an idea, inspired by highly stylised interior and trends seen in fashion and design. In every rug I make I tend to visualise an aesthetic or colour palette that has caught my attention, either through research or random placings of objects. I always begin with a sketch of what I have visualised however the end piece is never the same. 

RS Do you sometime work to commission? If so, how do you find this?

AD Yes, I have worked on quite a few commissions recently. I really enjoy working on commissions, working with someone to create their design, often people will come to me with a colour palette or an idea and an image of their room so I can really create something specific for them and their space. Its both an overwhelming and amazing feeling to have people you have never met put their trust in to you to create something for them and their home.

RS What’s the most unusual commission you have worked on?

I wouldn’t really say I have worked on any ‘unusual’ commissions. However, one that feels so unreal to me is a large 210×195 block colour scenic rug commissioned by Selfridges, London to be a part of their ‘Good Nature’ Launch when stores re-opened after lockdown for the summer. This rug was absolutely unreal to work, the pressure felt much stronger to be perfect, but the design and timing just felt right and has sparked further interest in commissions since.

RS Do you see them as fine art pieces made of textiles… does their function dictate of them? Or do you feel you straddle both closely together?

AD This is something I have fought over with myself on many occasions and part of the reason I wanted to keep them separate when starting out. When I began selling them, I would see them as ‘just rugs’ and create separately for fine art pieces. That has all changed and I 100% create and see them as fine Art pieces, just as a painting you would hang on a wall, they are a piece of Art and are another way of bringing more Art in to your home. I find the difference between them being a rug or piece of Art is so close yet so far apart. They could be defined by the fact each piece I make is individual they are not mass produced; their main purpose is not to cover an ‘ugly spot’ on the floor…

Rebecca Sitar lecturer in Fine Art caught up with Abbie recently for an interview and was delighted to hear how well she was doing

RS Could you tell us a little more about yourself, where you grew up and why you chose to study at the University of Bolton? 

AD so, I grew up in Derbyshire and spent a lot of my childhood painting with my grandad and two sisters, I am sure this is where my passion for Art began! As far back as I can remember I have always been interested in Art and Fashion, honestly always thought I would take the textiles/fashion route, but I chose to come to The University of Bolton to further educate myself on what I really wanted to pursue through the foundation course, after hearing such great things about the course and tutors. 

RS Has interest grown in your rugs since you began it. Are your buyers mainly from the UK or further afield? 

AD Interest has grown a lot in my rugs since the beginning, with confidence in myself I have pushed to create larger rugs and mini collections which began to grab more attention and inspired many more designs for future projects. The first sale I made was actually posted to New York! Though the main chunk of my sales has been UK based I have shipped rugs to Sweden, The Netherlands, Canada, and Thailand among others. There is something so warming knowing my work is taking up residence in people homes in countries and even UK towns I have never visited! 

RS What gave you the inspiration to set up as a freelance applied artist & how did you come up with Peachy Panther?? 

AD After a difficult ending to my final year at university due to covid lockdown, realising I could no-longer afford to live alone due to Covid-19 restrictions affecting my hours at work, I was faced with the fact I would be moving back to my parents with no job. However, I had learnt a new skill during this time and thought here goes nothing, I made a few samples mini rugs and Peachy Panther just naturally came alongside, I rolled with the name creating new accounts and an Etsy page. 

At the time I knew I wanted to continue on to do a Masters in Fine Art once restrictions had calmed as a result, I wanted to keep my rugs and my ‘practice’ separate; I didn’t see them as one yet, fast forward a year, I wonder if it was a mistake separating the two as I now see this as my main practice and I can see the way my work evolved. 

RS The colour palettes and designs you create. are they influenced by anything, or do they evolve intuitively?  

Wow this is something I have learnt about myself and my practice on this journey! Designs and colours and the need to create what I visualise and feel drawn to has always been at the forefront of my work. Ideas have always come and evolved through the process of making and the feeling of materials. Creating rugs has pushed me to understand why I enjoyed creating immersive spaces through my work. 

I find the thought of Art being a part of everyday life fascinating, a comfort blanket, something that makes your space yours, an individual experience. My rugs though evolve through process they begin as an idea, inspired by highly stylised interior and trends seen in fashion and design. In every rug I make I tend to visualise an aesthetic or colour palette that has caught my attention, either through research or random placings of objects. I always begin with a sketch of what I have visualised however the end piece is never the same. 

RS Do you sometime work to commission? If so, how do you find this?

AD Yes, I have worked on quite a few commissions recently. I really enjoy working on commissions, working with someone to create their design, often people will come to me with a colour palette or an idea and an image of their room so I can really create something specific for them and their space. Its both an overwhelming and amazing feeling to have people you have never met put their trust in to you to create something for them and their home.

RS What’s the most unusual commission you have worked on?

I wouldn’t really say I have worked on any ‘unusual’ commissions. However, one that feels so unreal to me is a large 210×195 block colour scenic rug commissioned by Selfridges, London to be a part of their ‘Good Nature’ Launch when stores re-opened after lockdown for the summer. This rug was absolutely unreal to work, the pressure felt much stronger to be perfect, but the design and timing just felt right and has sparked further interest in commissions since.

RS Do you see them as fine art pieces made of textiles… does their function dictate of them? Or do you feel you straddle both closely together?

AD This is something I have fought over with myself on many occasions and part of the reason I wanted to keep them separate when starting out. When I began selling them, I would see them as ‘just rugs’ and create separately for fine art pieces. That has all changed and I 100% create and see them as fine Art pieces, just as a painting you would hang on a wall, they are a piece of Art and are another way of bringing more Art in to your home. I find the difference between them being a rug or piece of Art is so close yet so far apart. They could be defined by the fact each piece I make is individual they are not mass produced; their main purpose is not to cover an ‘ugly spot’ on the floor…

Published by boltonunifineart

Fine Art, Bolton. We are Artists. Scholars. We experiment. We research. We make art. Bolton School of The Arts. University of Bolton. www.bolton.ac.uk www.facebook.com/groups/643770782855685 https://www.instagram.com/boltonunifineart/

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