The Davies Family

David Davies

David DaviesInnovation has been one of the hallmarks of the changes brought about by British artists and designers since the 1960s and David’s career has reflected this. His childhood was dominated by a passion for painting. Circumstances led him to pursue a career in the allied field of product design. David’s desire was to improve all aspects of design and apply them in a much broader field - as both artist and designer he was keen to develop products which were not only supremely fit for purpose but also a joy to behold.

In the early 1960s he left England to work in Sweden and Denmark because he wanted to experience the cutting edge of modern art and design. After three years, during which he met his future wife, he returned to work with an architect’s firm in London and his career expanded into the design of interiors. His experience of Scandinavian design was a timely intervention and he quickly realised that to achieve a hallmark of excellence, interior design must be equally supported by the design of quality products. He acted as adviser on industrial design for the Design Council, travelling nationwide developing his consultancy skills.

The move to the North of England also marked the development of David’s parallel career as a painter. When he met Hannah Smeds, an artist and designer of textiles, theirs was an instant and mutual shared artistic philosophy, and the recognition that they could be each others mentor. Their meeting was the start of a lifelong journey together, a partnership in which both David and Hannah find it difficult to assess the artistic impact of their relationship on each other’s work.

David has pioneered new techniques in the use of pastels on thick, textured watercolour paper to produce large scale colourful images. Having worked with architects and designers to create art for domestic and public spaces, David’s images can be readily integrated into specially commissioned work for interiors. His pictures contain both figurative and abstract images reflecting the patterns of the surrounding landscape. The combination of form and colour is central to David’s belief about the constructive process of painting and its relationship to design.

It is no surprise, therefore, that the art and design at Maiden Bridge has evolved in mirror image to each stage of David’s career. It is the apotheosis of David’s desire “to be able to control his own environment”, and a fulfilment of his total preoccupation with all things visual in the arena of fine and industrial arts.

Hannah Smeds-Davies

Hannah Smeds-DaviesWeaving is one of the oldest traditions known to mankind as there are records of intricate weaves and structures from the earliest civilisations. Folk art and hand-loom weaving has been an integral part of the culture in West Finland, Hannah’s native homeland. Indeed, Hannah remembers the strong maternal figures from her childhood being a formative influence: Celia, her aunt, grandmothers Mia and Hanna and Maria Juliana, great-grandmother, all produced hand-loom weaves. However these were created not only for aesthetic reasons but also for the more utilitarian purpose of providing textiles for household goods and clothing. The possibility of combining beauty and practicality was to become a baseline for Hannah’s future development as an artist. It also enabled her to introduce innovative concepts in textile design in Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Denmark and subsequently to the British textile industry when she arrived in England over forty years ago.

Hannah quickly realised that if she wished to make an impact in forging her career as a weaver and textile designer she needed to harness the technology of the textile industry with the modern concepts in design she encountered as a teacher in colleges of art. Her success in producing designs that were both cost effective and beautiful led to an increasing number of contracts with manufacturing companies in the textile industry. The regular commuting became the catalyst for the eventual move from the South of England to Lancashire.

At Maiden Bridge, Hannah felt an immediate affinity with the strong shapes and colours of the landscapes because to her they provided links to the visual memories of her childhood in Finland. Her home reflects this heritage in the display of her own wall hangings, rugs and the treasured miniature weaves created for the pleasure of David and her children Ezra and Zunya alongside treasures from the folk art tradition including painted furniture, which has been an inspiration for her and her great uncle, the artist Viktor Dalbo, a renowned painter in Finland.

The ancient farmstead continues to provide Hannah with the inspiration for producing more personal work and experimenting with new techniques. She has recently started to interpret the surrounding landscapes in three-dimensional form which has enabled her to introduce detailed features such as falling and running water. The complex and time consuming process involves an initial flat weave in twelve layers which, when removed from the loom unfolds into a three-dimensional hanging sculpture. This is then displayed in a glass cylinder so that it can be appreciated in all its facets, reflecting a myriad of colours and textures.

In contrast Hannah’s flat, textured weaves feature multicoloured embroidery, reminiscent of the techniques of Scandinavian folk art, but again her distinctive style is evident, this time through the addition of modern geometric patterns and vibrant colours. The viewer discovers a unity of colour and form which is enhanced through the skilful combination of natural materials: for example she combines silk and linen so that the weaves have fluidity, depending on how the light plays upon them. They have a timeless quality, drawing the eye in gradually so they become a focus for peaceful contemplation.

Hannah has made a significant contribution in adding new dimensions to this ancient art and her work is indeed a testament to her belief that weaving offers endless possibilities of creating “new forms of construction and visual ingenuity that makes weaving as vital and interesting a contribution to technological and visual culture as it was eight thousand years ago”.

Zunya Hannah Davies

Zunya DaviesHaving worked as a fashion designer in Sweden, Hong Kong and the UK, I decided to set up my own studios to concentrate on designing and making my range of garments, including hats, scarves, handbags and jewellery. I also developed an interest in the ancient craft of felt making and now produce highly individual felt art pictures, which now, together with painting, form a major part of my creative life.

Photography has also continuously been an aspect of my artistic output. I use photography to obtain ideas for fashion design, painting and felt art, as well as producing photographs as works of art in their own right. For me there are five crucial elements: composition, light, atmosphere, textures and colour. I love the way photography can capture a moment in time, trigger memories and be a compelling visual object.

Currently my focus is in painting in acrylic and mixed media. The forests of Scandinavia comprise much of my recent work.

Ezra Davies

Ezra DaviesThe five acre gardens of Maiden Bridge have been designed and planted by Ezra Davies, creating an inspirational setting, containing many specimen trees, sculptures and resting areas with spectacular vistas and views.

News


The Maiden Bridge Gallery 2017 Exhibition

Sat 20th May 2017 continuing every Saturday and Sunday including 30th July, 11am - 5pm A spectacular exhibition featuring the best of northern British artists plus award winning Scandinavian artists.

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The Maiden Bridge Gallery 2016 Exhibition

Sat 4th June 2016 continuing every Saturday and Sunday including 31st July, 11am - 5pm A spectacular exhibition featuring the best of northern British artists plus award winning Scandinavian artists.

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Hannah Smeds-Davies awarded silver medal from TAITO

Hannah Smeds-Davies has been awarded a silver medal and certificate from TAITO, Finland’s design and arts organisation for her lifetime contribution to textile design and art.

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