Tracey Neuls Walks of Life: Nicholas Hughes from Retrouvius
Tell us a bit about yourself
An artist who likes to draw. I help with shoots and styling, events and visuals at RETROUVIUS
(Where are we) is this your studio? Who’s did the screen prints?
Yes, my studio, part of it! Usually its a complete mess with drawings and doodled ideas everywhere. Once I get going I’m fizzing with characters and ideas and the only way to maintain any sanity is to scribble them out onto paper — usually in ink and then they might form part of more structured or considered works, prints, etchings etc. There are narratives, sounds, imagined landscapes or spaces for all of them… I hope to find homes for them.
Recently I’ve been using block printing and pattern to produce test prints and there are some aquatint prints in the background.
Who are Retrouvius and why do you enjoy working with them?
I’d been working very closely with Anish Kapoor on his many architectural works and as this project was drawing to a conclusion a friend tipped me off that Adam & Maria needed help galvanising a new website. I immediately clicked with them and after meeting the whole Retrouvius team it was clear that a more ambitious interpretation of their philosophy was required. I began doing their first book with them, the website and a collaborative exhibition exploring re-use. I have stayed on in some capacity ever since.
Retrouvius has a rigorous approach to materials that I enjoy and appreciate.
What’s been one of your most rewarding projects since being there?
The Retrouvius showroom was styled into a dramatic landscape full of material and tactility to explore. We piled up all these mahogany cabinets dotted around the warehouse making a wall you had to scramble through. One of the loos was inside a tall mahogany chest from the Natural History Museum.
Do you have a future project you could reveal to us
I’m exploring print design for a couple of private clients inspired by inky drawings from my notebooks and using large block print as a starting point for some wallpapers.
What, in your opinion is one of the best salvaged items online at Retrouvius right now?
Four pieces of carved travertine.
If someone visited London for the first time…What are the three things they must see / do?
Take the river boat from Westminster to Greenwich — The Thames has been described as "Liquid History” and I love viewing all the pockets of time from parliament through the old city, new city, all the way to Prime Meridien and the start and end point of Gulliver’s travels. Viewing at water level gives a completely different view point of the buildings.
Visit the British Museum and explore all the squares and side streets and shops that surround it — Cornelissen & Son is a favourite.
Strawberry Hill House is a marvellous folly and remains a romantic shell to all the collections of objects that it was designed to be a home to. Ham House is a short walk away and I enjoy all the splatted fruit trees trained up the old walled gardens.
What piece of design / furniture / art would you like to acquire if there were no budget or limitation?
O! That’s a very difficult one! I’ve always been skint so have never tormented myself with the idea!
I would acquire a very old pair of inuit sunglasses - walrus ivory with all that gorgeous carving.
Failing that one of Jockum Nordstrom’s collages/drawings.
What’s one of your most sentimental possessions?
A work by an artist friend consisting of two small cubes of mixed media and plaster with anthropomorphic impressions pushed into the surface.
Also a small ancient Inca pot that came via a friend’s grandmother and has been pieced back together after presumably falling and breaking. It sits perfectly in my palm and I think of the hands that made it and all those that have touched it since and in future.
I couldn’t chose between the two!
Name one of your favourite pieces of architecture is in London?
The amazing Tiled Mosque in Dalston next to my studio. The colours are brilliantly uplifting and there’s a butchers in the front of it.
Where would you go for a drink after work?
I’m a scooter goer so tend to head back East for a drink as 1 inevitably turns into 3 so I’d whisk you off for a Margarita at Bistrotheque!
Or Moncada Brewery in the West.
Do you have a favourite restaurant?
Burro e Salvia on Redchurch street; simple delicious and laid back — and you can get freshly made pasta to take away too.
What attracts you to Tracey Neuls Designs?
Unexpected and joyful treatments of familiar designs. I love the colour and fizzy finishing of the leather and suedes. With shoes I look for comfort and as TNs are all instantly that I get to delight in the joyous finishes.
Is there a particular style from Tracey’s design archive that stays in your memory?
The fluorescent pink lace that wraps around the foot like sea foam for its sassiness.
Where should we go for a walk together?
Along The Lea and Regent’s Canals. I’m so glad the tow paths have come back into use — I’ve cycled along freshly snow covered tow paths in the early hours of a New Year with rats bounding in front of the wheels and shared a bench and a chat with an old wharf worker who could unpick the histories of all the buildings and what they once warehoused. I love them.
Photo Credit: Kim Lightbody
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