We caught up with British artist Louise Gardiner after she got creative in our window display last week.
Louise Gardiner with her birthday quilt for Liberty. Photo: Emma Williams
Louise Gardiner is bringing embroidery firmly into the 2010s thanks to a unique combination of spontaneity, crafstmanship and creative vision. After a whirlwind career – including an exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery, multiple industry awards and a feature in The Guardian – Louise continues to produce work to inspire the next generation of crafstpeople. Last week, Louise staged some guerilla embroidery live in our Great Marlborough Street windows to coincide with her exclusive quilt being on display. We caught up with her to talk needlework, inspiration and creating a commemorative quilt for Liberty’s 140th birthday. . .
Louise Gardiner in the Great Marlborough Street window. Photo: Sophie Broadbridge
Did you enjoy getting creative in our windows?
I love new opportunities, so getting in the window to embellish my quilt was a great opportunity to flag up the wonderful medium of embroidery in such an iconic store.
What kind of response did you receive from passers-by?
A mixture! Being a Northerner it didn’t faze me at all to smile, wave and blow occasional kisses in-between stitching on PVC stars. Besides promoting my career, it was a great opportunity to bring vitality to the window, connect with my work and make people giggle. The biggest challenge was to encourage stern commuters to engage; the quilt is cheeky so I did win over a few smiles. It was a refreshing change to my cow-surrounded studio in Cheshire!
What was the best part of collaborating with Liberty for the 140th birthday quilt?
Liberty gives me projects that are exciting; the challenges allow me to show off my sense of humour and finest stitchery witchery! I am passionate about inspiring people with creativity, colour, texture and thought-provoking imagery. It is my mission to push the boundaries of contemporary British embroidered art to new exciting places. The two quilt projects I worked on with Liberty have enabled me to produce textile art with the wow factor.
What inspired your quilt design for Liberty?
I was asked to produce the quilt in 20 days on the theme of Maritime tattoos. As soon as I got the email I just started researching as it’s such a specific subject.
Stitching is perceived to be such a dry old pastime so I was looking for an excuse to bring an edge and show that it is still a beautiful, rich and timeless medium. Tattooing is an ideal theme for the needle, as punching elaborate threads into canvas is so closely related to transferring ink onto skin.
Louise Gardiner embroiders live in the Liberty windows. Photo: Sophie Broadbridge
What made you take the leap of faith from cards and wrapping paper to canvas and quilt embroideries?
Since graduating from Goldsmith’s, I have always created art by drawing with a needle. It is a spontaneous technique that fits my style of working. I have completed many different projects from figurative book illustration, hospital art works, advertising campaigns, greetings cards, velvet poufs, pillows and scarves. The Liberty projects are up there in my favourite challenges though, as they require lightning decision-making and ambitious large-scale planning.
You mention on your website that you create work that will enhance our environment; can you explain what you mean by that?
Life is full of beauty, wonder and kindness and I hope that my work celebrates this. My aim is to create artwork and garments that are inspiring, thought-provoking and uplifting. There is nothing better than to see people smile when they see my work – it makes the many hours spent making it worth it.
Do you have any advice that might help aspiring artists?
Do what makes you happy and people around you will be happy too. Seek help and advice when you need it. Be brave. Be game. Have fun. Music and sherry are marvellous at releasing the creative beast too!
Finally, can you share any plans for the future?
I am developing a beautiful British-made collection of silks that derive from my original embroideries which is very exciting. I’m also working on a superstitcher book based on my teaching philosophy which will showcase a variety of my past colourful projects – maybe even a few sherry cocktails here and there too!
Louise’s quilt is now on display in the Haberdashery department on the 3rd floor.
We invited illustrator Camille Rousseau to decorate our Great Marlborough Street windows.
In celebration of our revamped and re-decorated haberdashery department on the 3rd floor, we invited illustrator Camille Rousseau (who has collaborated with Liberty on the decor) to come and decorate one of the windows of the Great Marlborough Street storefront live. We caught up with Camille to find out her thinking behind the design, and how it felt to be a living window display for a day. . .
What was the best partof working for Liberty?
Visiting the building, and diving into the history of the most incredible and inspirational example of heritage British culture.
What inspiration did you take from the haberdashery theme?
I was thrilled by the theme because it encapsulates both the functional and the aesthetic aspects of fashion, the basic technical drawing mixed with tools and the structure of an old industrial environment. I was interested in the discipline and the tools around it. I guess there is an aspect of freedom in floral pattern mixed with structural architectural lines, the old technical drawings mixed with nature.
What were your initial thoughts about the project?
I originally wanted to use the building like a kaleidoscope. The building structure would be a the lens that would generate a mirror effect, mixing floral pattern with architecture, the drawings on the glass window acting as the lens. . .
What was it like illustrating a window space live?
Illustrating on windows is just an other aspect of a childhood dream. It was like diving into the most inspirational landscape in one of London’s iconic architectural structures. People walking by were exited just by seeing anything moving inside a window display!
Shop the collection online, or visit us in-store in the 3rd floor
We drop into the Get Stoned event in the Liberty jewellery hall: four days of new collection launches, personal appearances & exclusives.
For the last two days, the stars of the Liberty jewellery hall have been in-store launching exclusive pieces and discussing their collections. Anna Sheffield was on hand with bridal consultations, while Alex Monroe launched his exclusive Eyes of the Stars collection and Melissa Joy Manning met customers at her jewellery counter.
If you haven’t dropped in yet, make sure you visit before 6pm Sunday to meet Anna Sheffield, enter the Astley Clarke prize draw and get a first look at exclusive and limited edition collections from Kojis, Dinny Hall and Alex Monroe.
Liberty Loyalty customers will get triple points* on any jewellery purchases made during the event, and a hand engraver will be in residence to give your jewellery a personal touch.
Click here for full details and Get Stoned terms and conditions
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Get an exclusive peek at our in-store launch of the Lean Dean by Nudie Jeans.
Last night, shoppers were treated to an ice-cold beer in our menswear department as they tried the brand new Lean Dean out for size in a new, Scandi-style space. Every purchase granted access to an exclusive after-party to celebrate all things denim. If you didn’t make it down, Lean Dean is availabe online and in-store now.
The Lean Dean joins the slim division of Nudie’s Family of Fits; the 11th jean to join the range is straight from the top, all the way to the bottom with a narrow leg opening.
The launch of the Lean Dean coincides with the Nudie Jeans refreshed Liberty shop-in-shop fit, which projects a Scandinavian feel. Raw materials such as leather, metal and wood have been used and like a pair of dry Nudie Jeans it will age organically through wear and tear, creating a unique history.
Shop Nudie Jeans online and share your Lean Dean @LibertyLondon
Start spring as you mean to go on with this superfood salad recipe by Café Liberty.
The perfect dish for your first al fresco lunch of the year, this impressive salad by Café Liberty will wow even the fussiest of guests, or provide tasty a and guilt-free dinner on a weeknight. Free of dairy, gluten and nuts you’ll be left feeling nourished and super light. This recipe is vegan friendly, but our chef recommends a chicken or smoked duck breast for non-veggies craving an extra hit of protein.
• Smoked duck or chicken breast per person (optional)
• 75g quinoa, rinsed in cold water
• 150g aubergine, cut into cubes
• 150g chickpeas, rinsed
• Large handful of parsley, chopped
• Small handful of chives
• 50g fennel, washed and chopped thin
• 75g radicchio lettuce, washed and chopped thin
• 1tsp wholegrain mustard
• 12g spring onion, chopped
• 150g cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
• 1 pomegranate
• 6g red amaranth as a garnish
• 25g pumpkin seeds as a garnish
For the dressing:
10ml extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for the aubergine)
5ml balsamic vinegar
Place your aubergine cubes on a tray and mix with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook in the oven at 180 degrees for 13 minutes (or until done).
Meanwhile, place your rinsed quinoa in a pot and cover with cold water and salt (2 parts water for 1 part quinoa). Bring it to the boil then simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let it cool to absorb the water.
Mix the quinoa, cooked aubergine, chickpeas, parsley, chives, pomegranate seeds, wholegrain mustard and spring onions then put to one side.
Mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar together to make a dressing. Toss with the radicchio and fennel, then serve with the quinoa mix. Add the tomatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds and red amaranth on top. If you’re adding duck or chicken, place in thin slices to serve.
Finish with any dressing you have left!
Visit Café Liberty in-store, find out more >
Or, if you try this recipe, show us your creation @LibertyLondon