i-on's Ones to Watch of 2019
From photographers to silversmiths, there’s a wealth of hungry artists making their mark in Scotland. Here are nine we’re expecting big things from in 2019
While the moniker may be misleading, the creative force behind Tom Pigeon is actually a woman –namely the ridiculously talented Kirsty Thomas. Since launching her creative studio in 2014, Kirsty’s colourful and playful designs have done that rare magic thing of capturing the zeitgeist. In fact, when she had her first solo show in Leith’s Custom Lane at the end of 2017, Tom Pigeon was already stocked in The Tate Modern, The Barbican and The V&A.
From her rural studio in the East Neuk of Fife, Kirsty designs prints, jewellery and rugs inspired by her environment: “My work is abstract but is often inspired by things like the flotsam and jetsam washed up on our local beaches, the geometry of the harbours, sailing boats and the colours of ice cream,” she says.
Her recent collaboration with MADE means Kirsty’s designs are appearing in the coolest homes across the country in the form of prints, cushions, mugs, you name it. But the heart of her work is still very much in Scotland. Her newest print ‘Build’ was inspired by Edinburgh’s Social Bite Village (with all profits going to the charity) and later this year, she will be launching a ‘make bank’ collecting and redistributing creative materials to homeless and family shelters, community groups and schools. With this and even more exciting projects in the works, Tom Pigeon is all set to soar. tompigeon.com, Instagram @tom_pigeon
Based in Glasgow, Wes Kingston is an advertising photographer who specialises in people and their environments, with a distinct focus on visual storytelling. Influenced by photographers such as Brassai, Irvin Pen, Cindy Sherman and local hero Albert Watson, Wes’s own distinct style is atmospheric and intriguing, playing into the observer’s curiosity and leaving them wanting to know more.
Wes’s career has spanned the photographic spectrum, capturing haute couture, Highland glens and everything in-between. He’s worked on a range of different subjects –from aid agencies in South Africa to fashion designers in Paris; billionaires’ super yachts to creel boats. He’s currently in the planning stages for a portrait project which will be shot in Iceland –the details of which he can’t yet disclose but judging by his previous work, it’ll be worth the wait. weskingston.co.uk, Instagram @weskingston
Edinburgh College of Art graduate Lorn Jean is an award-winning fashion designer making waves with her own label which crosses between the realms of garment design and jewellery construction. Her stunning creation ‘The Florentine Dress’ is currently on display in the National Museum of Scotland. Constructed without any seams, its layered and folded fabrics are held together by roughly 10,000 silver-plated metal links and embellished with Swarovski® crystals -all hand sculpted and individually applied. In the museum, ‘The Florentine Dress’ stands next to a 1966 Paco Rabanne dress constructed from metal plates, which Lorn drew during high-school for her portfolio to study fashion. It is a touching positioning of her own couture design and one which inspired her as a young girl and budding designer. lornjean.com, Instagram @lornjean
From shop fronts to murals and bespoke signs, Thomas is a designer and sign painter breathing life back into a somewhat dying profession. Effortlessly combining the old with the new, he supports the traditional craft of sign writing and it’s going down a storm with local businesses. But it doesn’t just stop there. Final touch-ups have just been completed on a large project he has done for Historic Scotland at Edinburgh Castle, which included visually linking portraits on the walls of the Mary Room, the bedchamber of Mary Queen of Scots. thomaspaints.com, Instagram @thomas_paints
It was at high school that Harry Morgan first started experimenting with glass and pushing the boundaries of traditional glass processes. “My teachers had little experience with the material, so I enjoyed their playful investigations and the anticipation of opening the kiln,” he says.
Since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 2014, his award-winning architectural sculptures have been exhibited all over the country and internationally. Referencing influences from ancient Venetian glassblowing to Brutalist architecture, his work challenges the fragility of glass by combining it with concrete.
With pieces on display at the National Museum of Scotland as well as in the European Museum of Modern Glass in Coburg, Morgan will also soon return to Collect, the international art fair for modern craft and design at London’s Saatchi Gallery, where he will present new works expanding his practice to include pewter pieces. harrymorgan.co.uk, Instagram @harrymorgan.insta
You’ll find Edinburgh-based jeweller Roisin Connolly in her studio in Leith’s trendy Custom Lane. It’s here she works on bespoke pieces and collections, applying a timeless feel to modern jewellery designs. Drawing inspiration largely from travel, Roisin describes her ideas as coming from concepts as simple as an area’s colour palette, to a single tile in a wall. Her jewellery evokes simplicity, elegance and class, while retaining a unique feel, with subtle plays on angles and texture. Her latest collection, Paola, was inspired by a trip to Venice. It’s available in silver and gold with pops of gemstone colour. roisinconnolly.com, Instagram @roisinconnollyjewellery
Growing up in the Borders, Myer Halliday was surrounded by contemporary design thanks to his parents shop which, unusually for rural Scotland at the time, stocked mid-century modern design objects. This early influence led to a degree at Glasgow School of Art and ultimately, his own ceramic design studio in Roslin.
From cups and coffee pots to candles and vases, Halliday’s pieces all reflect a minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic with monochrome shades, graphic patterns and clean lines which appeal very much to the now. So much so in fact, that he’s been featured in Elle Decoration, has a collaboration with London design store Heal’s and will be setting off soon for NYNow –an important design show in New York City. Closer to home, he will also be a featured artist at the Pittenweem Arts Festival this summer. myerhalliday.co.uk, Instagram @myer_halliday
Colourful, fun, concrete vessels are the eye-catching trademark of Studio Emma, Emma MacDowall’s Edinburgh-based homeware brand. Her designs are simple yet beautiful -and far removed from any industrial associations many have with concrete.
After moving home to Alloa post art-school and discovering cement in her dad’s shed, Emma began experimenting with it; mixing together different materials and using objects she’d found to create forms. This sense of curiosity and experimentation remains at the centre of her artistic outlook, which is what makes Studio Emma such an exciting brand to follow. She already has her products featured in stores around the world, including London and New York, and recently added the TATE Liverpool to the list. But she’s not stopping there. Access and affordability remain an important part of Emma’s brand ethics, and she now holds regular workshops where members of the public are shown how to make their own concrete creation. studioemmaconcrete.com, Instagram @_studioemma
Founded in 2011, Hilary Grant Knitwear was originally a one-woman-show set up by Hilary after she graduated in textile design at art college in Dundee. Two years ago, she was joined by her partner Rob who is helping take the brand to new heights.
Like Tom Pigeon, the designs are inspired by the unique environment of their studio - the big empty skies and dramatic landscape of Orkney. This, coupled with Rob's background in architecture, results in beautiful graphic patterns where colour and scale work together to produce exquisite design. All the knitwear is produced in the Borders but products are shipped far beyond our shores to luxury department stores in Japan, USA and even Australia. This year, the couple are looking forward to appearances in New York with Craft Scotland and in Paris at Premiere Classe then later in 2019, they'll be launching some new interior products from blankets to textiles. hilarygrant.co.uk, Instagram @hilarygrantknitwear
Harry Morgan, Roisin Connolly, Myer Halliday and Tom Pigeon areall featured in Custom Lane’s current Working Title exhibition, which runs until 20 January.