Charlotte Taylor on the Nest Issue covers and the notion of home
Words Vilma Paasivaara
Photographs Thom Atkinson
Illustrator and artist Charlotte Taylor created four exclusive covers for the Nest Issue of Hole & Corner. We speak with her about creating those covers, her passion for architecture, fictional spaces, and what home means to her…
Charlotte Taylor and I are sitting in the enormous shared studio space at Chelsea College of Art, in London. The space is dotted with unfished projects and working stations but this early in the morning we are the only ones here. Taylor says that she is definitely a morning person and likes to work in the studio when it is calmer. ‘I love being up like an hour before everyone and going around. And here no one comes in before lunchtime.’
Taylor, whose regular practice revolves mainly around a creative collective called Dellostudio, has just finished creating four exclusive covers for the Nest Issue of Hole & Corner. Within Dello, her and Oscar Piccolo usually create large-scale sculptural installations, inspired by their passion for architecture. Their creations aim to play with fictional spaces, the juxtaposition of two-dimensional and three-dimensional, as well as shadow and light. Taylor says she was introduced to architecture early on because her father was a lighting designer and she even briefly considered becoming an architect. ‘I did apply to university but then, after the interviews, I felt like I don’t actually want to do this, I don’t want to make functional buildings,’ she says. ‘I guess it is sort of a rebellion against functional architecture, to just make unreal architecture. Like a house made of stairs.’
Though her illustrations are now a big part of her creative practice it is actually a rather new pursuit – brought on literally by accident. ‘In October, I had quite a serious accident where I fell on my head so I was in bed for quite a while,’ she explains, ‘I couldn’t come into the studio and make things so I started drawing digitally a lot more.’ She began translating the architectural references she used as inspiration in the studio into slightly surreal two-dimensional spaces. ‘Out of the collective, I’ve always been the technical one, who makes all the plans and sketches, our models and graphic materials so it [the drawing] was always sort of there.’ Even though she began illustration to be creative while recovering she now thinks that it brings a new dimension to her practice and that she would actually like to venture more into drawing. ‘I’ve discovered a new love for drawing. I used to draw a lot by hand what I haven’t been doing a lot recently so I’d like to go back to that as well.’
The collaboration with Hole & Corner was the first of its kind for Taylor as she had never made illustrations in response to a brief before. ‘I’ve never seen my work live on another thing than a print. I really had to think about what the constraints might be.’ She says that the challenge of working on a set of magazine covers was welcome. As collaborations often do, it helped her think about her craft in a new way. Usually, her drawings are quite spontaneous, she just sits down with all her references around her and conjures up a space which she then translates into a digital drawing. With the covers, the drawings took shape over time and in collaboration with Hole & Corner. ‘This was more of a thinking process and less improvised. We were comparing them all together, thinking do they work together and does it all make sense.’
With the Nest Issue focusing on the home an illustrator with a close tie to houses and interiors seemed like an obvious choice for a cover artist. ‘In my collective, a big focus is on the house and the home because we both had a really strong connection to our homes as kids,’ she says. Each of the four covers represents a different time of the day at home which to Taylor meant exploring the changes through light – an aspect she finds important in her own home. ‘I like the light in the morning. Where I am at the moment the light comes into the lounge with all the plants and all the shadows are on the wall,’ she says. However, she didn’t’ want to depict just the change of light but how the spaces we inhabit also change depending on the time of day. Rather than use actual rooms or specific home as her reference Taylor worked on the notion of an imaginary home. ‘Fictional spaces are a big part of my practice so I wanted all of these covers and times of day to be different spaces in a fictional house,’ she says. ‘I then played with the same range of colours, changing it through the times of day, and having that same language of the arch and the ball to be a continuous thing. It could be the same house but it’s not explicitly.’
It was only after she had finished the covers that she realised that there we, in fact, many references to her childhood house. She grew up in the same house for the first 16 years and it is a place that she still longs to return to at times. ‘I was really sad to leave it, I can still like picture exactly how to walk through it.’ In a way, she feels like maybe that is what she did while drawing the covers as the arches and staircases seem to echo that home.
Now that she is living in London having a permanent space, or a home, has proved much more challenging. ‘I’ve moved a lot in the past year,’ she says, ‘but the lounge always looks the same. I think I’m trying to recreate that same feeling.’ When I ask her, what are the things that she needs to build her home she laughs and admits that she has a collection of plants and books she has been dragging around London. ‘Plants are big thing in our home,’ she explains, ‘every home we move to we bring around 30 plants and it becomes more of a jungle.’ Her love for collections is also why it is also hard for her to say what she would save from the proverbial fire. ‘I’m not generally attached to single objects I’m quite a hoarder I think. A tidy hoarder but a hoarder,’ she says laughing.
Taylor hopes she won’t have to move from apartment to apartment forever though. One day she would want to build her own home instead of the fictional spaces she creates with Dello. ‘My dream is to build my own insane house that has all these stairs, arches, and different platforms,’ she says. ‘And my partner is actually an architect so we have this idea that one day we are going to build this house somewhere in the Moroccan desert. So that is the dream.’
You can find Charlotte Taylor’s four exclusive covers in here. Soon you will also be able to order an exclusive print of your favourite cover – watch this space!