Julie Arkellby 159
In these days of de-cluttering, downsizing and responsible consumption it's rare to feel that you simply do not own enough but that's exactly the feeling a visit to Julie Arkell's house engenders. Her intricate, inviting and imaginative interior puts more conventional living spaces to shame and makes the urge to get out there and find witty one-off pieces and fantastic flea market finds almost irresistible. Nevertheless, you probably should resist as you’d struggle to find the type of objects that occupy every nook and cranny of this three floor town house in Islington, London; simply because Julie makes most of them herself. Her unmistakable creations peek from behind curtains, under chairs and gather sociably on shelves and mantels ready to whisper or giggle about you when your back is turned - not that they look mean spirited these papier mâché figures have a friendly charm matched only by that of their floral apron-clad maker. Display is a key word in the description of Julie’s home, not for her the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach of the minimalist. Shelves are open and every flat surface, including the stairs, is an individual and evolving still life. This air of deliberation, of careful placement means that although colourful and busy the house also feels edited and organised. It’s a close run thing but complexity never quite descends into chaos. The layered feel of the interior is partly explained by the house’s history. Julie’s father and his sister Violet were brought up here – the family moved in in 1919. As a result the house Julie inherited was the exact opposite of a blank canvas. Rooms remained filled with the accumulated memories of earlier generations – and as you would expect ‘a good clear out’ was not on the agenda. But nor was the house left untouched, there is nothing reminiscent of Miss Haversham here, it took the best part of a year to redecorate and objects from the past were treasured, absorbed, adapted and reused. Julie includes writer and illustrator Edward Gorey in her list of inspirations and although it would be going too far to say her work contains his level of black humour, there are frequent hints of soft grey and melancholic blue. Of course this merely adds the contrast necessary to give both her work, and her home, depth and interest – the full glare of a sunbeam can strain your eyes. These days bareness, simplicity, monochromatic colour schemes – reduction in general – are all too often accepted as visual shorthand for peace and calm. We are quick to dismiss vibrant, decorative interiors as fussy and stifling. Yet repose can be found in an English country garden as well as a Japanese courtyard. Julie’s house with its abundant textures and patterns is the equivalent of a Gertrude Jekyll masterpiece, it greets visitors with a wonderful sense of creativity and leaves them inspired. Find new stock from Julie Arkell on Selvedge's online store. From Beth Smith's article in the Paper issue of Selvedge.
Use left/right arrows to navigate the slideshow or swipe left/right if using a mobile device