The wonderful Maddy Taylor is the founder and artist behind the bright and playful brand, Squares and Things. In this weeks conversation we talk holidays, plants and pets.. and art of course!
Okay, so we're obsessed with your new sculpture collections, and first and foremost wanted to have a chat about them! So, could you explain to us the inspiration behind them and how they came to life?
Thank you! Yes of course. It felt like the next stage of progression for my work, I knew I needed to experiment with a 3D concept because I had an itch to do more with the shapes I was drawing on paper - I had to bring them to life! My very first sketch was done on procreate and I remember how excited I felt when I looked at the finished idea. It felt so right, and I felt like I’d opened a (good) can of worms. I'd figured out that I wanted to use polymer clay and wire, polymer clay being the least risky material to use in case my ideas didn’t work and wire being the simplest form to suspend my shapes from.
Whilst I have had recent influence, I'm certain the inspiration behind the sculptures stems from my childhood admiration and slight obsession with plants, nature and things you find in the ocean. I spent my childhood living in Asia, surrounded by exotic plants with long tendrils and strange flower bud shapes. Recreating these shapes and the feeling of sanctuary they gave me is something I try to put into my sculptures. My holidays in Nice and Italy with my boyfriend are where I credit recent influence. The colour of the turquoise sea contrasted against orange parasols on the beach, the terracotta tiles of their holiday home in St Tropez and the spiky Yucca trees that seem to burst out of the ground have been mental pictures I've taken, as not only have they been beautiful memories, they all represent a moment in time where I was relaxed, happy... and warm! These are qualities I try to exhibit throughout all my work but I’ve felt this especially when working on my sculptures, I would want them to bring a little happiness and fun to a corner of a customer’s home.
With the bouquet sculptures we know your intentions for them are that they can be more than just a 'floral' arrangement; what else can you see them being used for?
So many things. Mainly because they are made of wire, I get the impulse to stick them in everything! I could see them being spread out throughout the house, in different vases or stuck in house plant pots. I also like the idea of them being used as part of a tablescape layout, scattered amongst plates of food or taking centre stage in a vase... Now that I think of it, they could be stuck in a cake too!
You've been naming your sculptures after your pets (which is so sweet!), is there a particular reason as to why you decided on this idea?
Ah yes, because all my pets have been so important to me growing up, they've been there for transitions into adulthood, major life events and I felt a similar feeling when I created my first collection of sculptures, they felt like my little pets! It didn’t feel right to give them impersonal names and so I compiled a list of our current pet names, childhood pets and once we had run out of names, my mum's childhood pet names.
We can see your work being amazing on a larger scale, or in a commercial environment; from shop windows to gallery spaces, centrepieces on restaurants tables.. the ideas are endless! Do you have an ideal location in mind, or a dream gallery you would love your work to be showcased in?
Yes! I'd love to see my sculptures involved in some kind of visual merchandising display and everything you just mentioned! I would be so proud if had my sculptures in the lobby of a hotel, The Hamyard Hotel comes to mind first, as I always have my afternoon coffee there and it’s such a chilled-out space. I know I'd really enjoy working with a store like Harvey Nichols for their window displays as they’re always so fun and a little bit nuts. If I'm honest I'd love to see large scale versions of my sculptures in the garden of a palatial home in the South of France, the colours popping against that permanently blue sky!
Can you tell us what it means to you for your art to sell and end up in a happy home?
It means everything. It's one thing to be a maker and to enjoy that whole process for yourself but having someone come across your brand, love a piece enough they want to buy it, is a unique experience. It makes me feel like I’m connecting to the customer and they’ve seen or felt the message behind my work. Validation! I had an order from America recently and it made me squeal! It brings me pure joy to think that someone has a sculpture or piece of my work sitting in their own personal space, hopefully bringing them joy.
Your work is certainly full of joy! What part of the making process do you find most enjoyable?
Oh gosh, so many parts. I love the moment when I see an assortment of objects, or I walk past someone's window box or mini garden full of flowers and plants (this has happened a lot during lockdown) and I feel a tick in my mind that tells me 'ooh I must take a picture of that!' It's always a gut feeling towards the layout of something that make want to rush home and draw it, knowing I need to transform it into something using my own hands. Following on from that, when I finish a piece and have it lined up ready to shoot for my website, I like to imagine where it might end up and what type of house it would look cool in.
At Florence + Blank we believe that shopping small and supporting independent makers is really important, and we know you do too! Which independents are you currently loving and / or purchasing from?
This is so important. I had such a supportive boost after featuring on A South London Makers Market, I was suddenly welcomed into this lovely community of fellow makers creating a whole range of products. I'm definitely changing my shopping habits in the lead up to Christmas and looking at what objects I'd like/need in the flat. Ive already bought a beautiful ceramic mug from Juliette Makes. She makes small batches of ceramic wares and all the focus is on sustainability too. I originally bought it for my mum but when I opened it, kept it for myself!. Sugar & Cement is another lovely lady making tablewares including placemats and vases out of cement - I treated myself to one of her vases to give my wire bouquets a fancy home! Olive & Betty is another one I found through the market - the designer Jenny makes napkins with all the colours and stripes you'd want to see on your table, I picked up her yellow and white striped napkins with red stitching. She has a lovely story behind her brand too. I cannot wait to get a mirror from Lotta Blobs, she uses polymer clay as well to create wiggles around mirrors, She sold out before she even launched her website which is so exciting, her stuff is just the sort of fun we all need in our lives right now!
Finally, if you were a plant or a flower, which one would you be and why?
Great question! A swiss cheese plant because they're my favourite. They grow in the rainforest and I've always wanted to live in the wild in the rainforest... I was obsessed with them as a child and was so pleased when adult me bought a pot of them in Ikea to keep me company at university. It's in my studio now!
We're so used to seeing them as houseplants, if you google them in the wild, they're HUGE.
Maddy's Limited Edition Print, Sunset is available to purchase here.