To celebrate our latest collection with Coline Assade, we teamed up with a selection of hand-picked creative talents, from artists to print makers and designers. We sent them jewellery from the collection with a single instruction – to let their imagination run wild. Rose Electra Harris is a London-based artist working predominantly as a printmaker, mostly in etching and screen-printing; in her work she explores the interior, creating dreamlike, surreal and vibrant interpretations of domestic spaces around her. We caught up with Rose to hear more about her artistic inspiration, and what she loves about Motley x Coline Assade.
When I was in art school, I started drawing furniture because I hadn’t found what I wanted to do.
Then, I started adding in things to the paintings of ordinary objects that I had imagined, or remembered from childhood. I start with one object and fill it out from there. None of the scenes I depict are entirely real places – I just fill the canvas with beautiful things and lots of colour, creating surreal scenes.
My dad was an antique dealer, but not what you’d picture when you think of one.
He was very interested in fun, playful pieces. I remember these amazing human-sized ice creams made out of painted wood he brought home. His pieces were always so joyful.
There was a constant rotation of beautiful furniture, lights and objects in the house that he would bring in, sell, and replace with others. They reappear in my work from memory, or from photographs.
My mum is an interior designer and used to design jewellery. My mum and sister have their own business designing wallpaper. So being creative has always been encouraged – and it all started in the home.
Like Coline’s Midsummer Night’s Magic, I combine real-life objects with nature and surrealism.
I always incorporate nature into an interior. I draw things that are used everyday, that you don’t even notice any more in your home. I like bringing their distinct characteristics to life, and showing how those different objects communicate with each other.
I value the surreal side of everyday beauty, whether that’s nature or interiors. It’s the beauty in things we take for granted. I always return to chairs because everyone uses them and each chair has different characteristics. I just love the simplicity of a chair – as an object, it captures the beauty of the everyday.
Tell us about the piece you created inspired by Midsummer Night’s Magic.
I wanted to create a dreamlike scene incorporating nature and with lots of patterns whilst using one of my favourite objects I have in my studio, an elaborate candlestick with leaves on and a rotating sun. It reminds me of something you’d have in your bedroom to hang all your jewellery from so I took some pictures of different pieces from the collection sitting on leaves or intertwined around the stalks. From these I took patterns like that of tree bark from the ‘Gold Pyramus Ring’ or the blossoming leaves on the ‘Gold Peaseblossom Hoops’, recreating them in my own style in the finished artwork.
I have a few artists I always return to for inspiration.
Betty Woodman is an artist that works with ceramics, who blew me away from the moment I saw her work at the ICA. My copy of her book is in tatters because I used it so much. I always return to Matisse, Florence Hutchins and Hockney.
If I’m stuck and struggling to create, I walk my dog.
It forces me to go outside to the park, and I find it a really inspiring way to reconnect with the world around me. I used to stay home and just struggle through it, but leaving the house really does help.
I’m always inspired when I go to the Royal Academy – it’s an easy bet, because I always know it will do something for me creatively.
The most frustrating part of the creative process is when you have a block.
When you feel like you can’t make anything, and you spend ages going over different techniques. The feeling of trying to keep going when you know something isn’t working, because you know exactly what it feels like when it does. That’s pretty infuriating.
The most rewarding is when it does work.
The feeling of something you know it’s working, and the excitement of looking at the finished thing and knowing you did it is the best part.
My favourite piece I’ve created is one I drew live at Bonhams Auction House.
I was terrified because I’ve never drawn live with an audience, and it’s not something you can prepare for in advance. But it was incredible – I made this huge piece in front of people, and it took three hours to create. I just zoned in and felt so exhilarated when it came together. It was one of my favourite experiences, as well as favourite pieces.
The fact that I had been so nervous and did it better than I hoped was an amazing moment for me and my confidence. I’d been struggling to make work before that, so it was a huge surge of energy and confidence.
The one object I would say in a fire is a rotating candlestick with suns my dad bought in America. Or my mum’s backgammon board.
Whenever I try and pick, I feel like I’m not doing other things justice.