Go hardcore! Curtains and wallpaper made of concreteBarbara Chandler
7 Mar 2011
Think concrete, think rough, grey, bleak and industrial. But that's just what appeals to a fresh clutch of clever creatives who see concrete as a marvellously modern medium for original design.
"I just love that raw quality," says London sculptor Kathy Dalwood, who actually manages to make concrete charming. Her figurines, cast in a Queen's Park studio, have moulds from vintage statuettes collected diligently from dealers in Europe and America.
The originals, in ceramic and plaster, were heavily painted. A rich source was the huge road-side antiques markets in America's southern states, selling figures that were fairground trophies in the Forties and Fifties.
Dalwood reduces an old and garish glory to elegant and sober monochrome, deliberately leaving mould marks and roughness. Pick up a concrete Marie Antoinette, a dainty shepherdess or bewigged violinist for a metropolitan mantelpiece or city patio at prices from around £120. Also in demand are her baroque concrete urns.
Peddling a new line in concrete curtain trimmings is Di Overton of Ghost Furniture, with a startling range of tassels and tiebacks that Dalwood skilfully casts from originals found at Paris flea markets and specialists in
"passementerie" (trimmings). Overton adds antique lace, cords and ribbons for tiebacks and trims snapped up by London interior decorators, though prices start from £80.
But concrete wallpaper? Yes, that too, thanks to the ingenuity of Eric Barrett of Concrete Blond, who's produced almost-silky damask effects with all the fine details of their period originals.
And now, working with inventor Mark Dale of Graphic Relief, he has a new technique for digitally printing onto concrete, making panels from photographs and other artwork.
Textile artists are also roughing it. Alessio Giardino (originally trained in Florence) makes panels like folded fabric in her Southgate studio. She has also used concrete for delicate screen printing. Yasemen Hussein in Sydenham lines her moulds for concrete table tops and wall panels with fabric, wallpaper, wood and more, and then adds inlays of resin, leather and vinyl.
Hazel Hewitt photographs her concrete creations and digitally prints them onto wallpaper - that's when she's not needling some concrete knitting.
"Not jumpers exactly but boxes and tiles." And no way will the moths get at them.
Concrete Ghost, a range for Ghost Furniture, is a collaboration between Kathy Dalwood and Di Overton. Real vintage silk tassels have been cast in concrete to produce seemingly fossilized pieces that can be used as decoration on furniture, artwork or as curtain tiebacks.