As we celebrate the launch of our brand new regional collection Watercolour Britain, water is definitely the word of the week here at Stuart Morris Textiles. The new collection, beautifully produced by our Head Designer Diz Andrews and printed right here in our UK factory, is a vibrant celebration of some of Britain's favourite landmarks.
After World Water Day on 22nd March, it's really got me thinking about our relationship with water not only as a region but as a nation and how much we rely on it day to day. Right now in Southern Sudan they are in desperate need of humanitarian aid after experiencing yet more drought whilst in certain parts of the UK people are still recovering from last year's floods. It seems our relationship with water has never been more apparent. But it is not all negative, World Water Week will take place in Stockholm between 27th Aug-1st Sept this year and in fact water makes up a large portion of the UK economy in one form or another.
Whichever of the 6 regions so far illustrated you are most drawn to, water has an important role to play; be that as the canals of Cambridgeshire or the Norfolk Broads, Lutworth Cove in Dorset or encouraging tourists to flock to the White Cliffs of Dover. Across the UK, our waterways have been bringing people together for generations.
In his book 'East Anglia in Colour,' John Worrall plays homage to the exhaustive variety of practices employed by our region specifically; from the shrimping industry of Kings Lynn to the devastating affect of erosion on coastal areas like Hemsby. The leisure industry in Ipswich and Lowestoft and the largest container port in Britain, Felixstowe. Almost every page has some connection to East Anglia's working relationship with water and how we rely on one of science's most simplistic compounds for our livelihoods. Even the infamous Kersey splash gets a mention.
So it feels very appropriate that so many of the new products are themselves a useful water aid in some form or another. As well as the 100% cotton tea towels, aprons and bags you would expect from Stuart Morris, there are mugs, trays and coasters, each a miniature celebration of watercolour as a medium.
Speaking personally I've not seen this kind of painting used with such vivid expression before and it brought back a very particular memory of water that I have from childhood. The Venetian Waterways in Great Yarmouth. When I was a child, my family would often spend the summer holidays with my Grandparents in Gorleston-in-sea and on one of our evenings we would drive in to Yarmouth and park up along the Esplanade to take a moonlit boat ride which felt every bit as a magical as a real life fairy tale.
Sadly no longer with us, they were then home to a vast collection of painted nursery rhymes. As we travelled leisurely from Old Mother Hubbard past the Dish and the Spoon as they eloped, under bridges and past the gardens, I couldn't help but feel inspired and I'm not alone. Like Diz, water has proved an inspiration to some of the Nation's most prolific artists from Constable & Gainsborough to Ben Nicholson & Ann Wegmuller. Britain's waterways hold a very special place in the hearts and minds of us all, never more so than during the summer holidays.
As we are steadily approaching the start of the exam season for many high school seniors, I'm reminded of my geography field trip to count pebbles. A flippant description of our task to calculate coastal erosion at measured intervals along Felixstowe beach. The hours spent afterwards surrounded by data and cups of tea prompts me to ask how things have changed there in recent years and for any who may be embarking on a field trip this year might I suggest a tray and coaster to ensure an adequate supply of hot drinks and snacks continue to power the brain channels of the future!
For more information about the Watercolour Britain Collection an exclusive brochure is now available on request. If you would like to discuss a bespoke collection for your own region please contact our Art Director Steve on 01473 820016.