Colville's Q&A: Kirsten Synge

How did you first connect with Colville?

Many moons ago I worked in Milano as a print designer at Moschino. It was an incredible time of boom in Milano and a lot of young St Martins students were employed at all the big fashion houses. We got properly paid and as a result we were partying and of course working very hard in Milano. It was at that time about 18 years ago that I met Molly and was inspired by her in every way and when you meet someone like her you cant let go. I have really enjoyed knowing her as a friend as well as professionally. Was honoured and over the moon when she asked me to do a Colville print.

Molly and Lucinda gave you a brief that was based around nature, how did you decide to interpret that?

Colville has a wonderfully strong and creative identity. I knew this brief would mean I could explore it from a fresh and outside the box perspective as Colville really understands the creative process and has a brave ability to be unique. So I was able to be spontaneous and free, which is a delightful way to start a project.

How does nature influence your work?

Nature is probably my biggest influence, I surround myself with flowers and spend as much time as I can in my garden. Moving to Norway from Italy 10 years ago, after marrying a wonderful Norwegian, pushed me to embrace my natural surroundings to another level. I start all my creative process in nature and I normally start all projects drawing directly from nature. I have a green house now and I have been enjoying extending the Norwegian growing season and helping our bee population as we have 5 hives in our garden now. I meditate next to the small stream in our garden and I believe this helps me creatively. I feel my very deep embrace of gardening and nature have helped me on every level of work and life.

What do print and colour mean to you?

Print and colour have always been a key role in my professional life, but it's also part of every bit of my life, my home is full of print and colour, my kids covered in print and colour, I really feel print and colour mean a lot more joy and radiate it too!

Can you tell us how the Bloomsbury group features in your life?

My Great grandfather was a founding member of the Bloomsbury group and was the brother of Virgina Woolf and Vanessa Bell. It's in my blood, but it's also a way of life that affects for good and bad the next generations of the family, for me I find it a very liberating influence. But I am a generation removed from Bloomsbury life directly so I can enjoy the good bits as I think growing up as a child in such a group was very hard for my grandmother.

Bloomsbury being in my blood gives me pride and confidence but also a bit of a responsibility on understanding what ‘balance’ means in a professional, creative and family life. I don't use my Bloomsbury links professionally as yet, but I use the confidence it gives me daily.

What are your influences?

My influences do change with the stories of my life. My friends have always given me energy and inspiration, not much I enjoy more than a tea party in my garden with chat and laughter, layers of printed tablecloths and cakes covered in flowers. I also need to travel. I need to smell, taste and admire the beauty of different countries. Italy is the country I always have to return to. I miss it a lot, it's bursting with creative references in my work. One day I will live in Italy again.

My parents still live in the house I was born and grew up in, in the Norfolk countryside in the UK and I love returning ‘home’, where I go to the local markets, walk on the beaches and catch up with old friends with a pint of beer and horror stories of our teen years, this laughter and reflection and joy fills me with influence and momentum. I do think joy and laughter and influence go hand in hand for me.
I need cups of tea and woman's hour on radio 4 and flowers on my desk to get a good day's painting done.

How have you been influenced creatively through your life?

I survived school by being good at art and having fun with my friends. Being allowed to do that as a profession has been a life full of creativity and fun!
I realised I am very bad at many things, being dyslexic so my choices were small! I had parents that felt following your heart, travel and creativity are held high in importance. So I was able to dream of being creative from the start and was taken to European museums from childhood so it was always in my blood and life. My mother studied Fashion at St martins in the late 60s early 70s and I loved her stories from that time in London, it made me dream.

How and when did you discover you wanted to work as an artist?

When someone paid me to do something I loved as an artist, before that I just thought I was having a lot of fun with a massive student loan. Now I have no student loan and still shocked people are employing me to produce joy. I feel very grateful for my professional life and the people I work with every day. I never take being a professional creative for granted.