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A Room of One’s Own: Luke Edward Hall on the vintage ephemera and collected costumes in his Cotswolds studio

A self-confessed hoarder who moves between the worlds of fashion and interiors, the artist and designer Luke Edward Hall has transformed a farm barn in Gloucestershire into a treasure trove of relics, remembrances and ever-evolving work

Sarah Frances Kelley
Elliot Sheppard
Harry Cave
A Room of One’s Own: Luke Edward Hall on the vintage ephemera and collected costumes in his Cotswolds studio

When we visited the Gloucestershire home of the artist Luke Edward Hall this summer, we asked his husband, the interior designer Duncan Campbell, how might he describe Luke’s work. “Luke’s a romantic,” Duncan replied. “His work is optimistic, enigmatic and transporting. It’s about stories, myths and legends. It says a lot, but with very little.” It looks, he explained, completely effortless. “He can capture the a nose or jawline with perfect simplicity. It’s all so beautiful.”

Shaped by his studies in menswear at London’s Central Saint Martins, illustration and the human form have long been a focus of Luke’s work. He considers 2015 the year he established himself, remembering the particular projects and ventures that defined his path – one with fashion flanking one side and interiors the other. “I’ve always been interested in antiques and I had a job as a teenager at the Vyne, a Tudor house that belongs to the National Trust, which sparked my interest in old houses and storytelling,” he explains. “At university, Duncan, our friend Haeni and I started an online antiques shop called Fox and Flyte; it was a bit of fun really – a way to spend time together that was also constructive, which we did on the side of our studies and first jobs.” Ben Pentreath bought some copper pans from them, which led the trio to a small pop-up at his and Bridie Hall’s shop on Rugby Street. “I got to know Ben a little, began working for him and my interest in interiors deepened and deepened.”

In 2018, Luke held his first exhibition, at Alex Eagle’s studio in London. A couple of years later, while holidaying on the Greek island of Hydra, he was contacted by the Breeder, a gallery in Athens. Soon after, the gallery invited him to show. “That was a real turning point for me,” he says. “The gallery introduced me to a whole new world and having their support was – and still is – a great, great thing,” he continues, telling of his Breeder show in London this autumn.

Luke’s studio, like his cottage, is best described as a treasure trove. It’s a collector’s paradise, a vintage mecca of the obscure and the intriguing. Reached down a pothole-pitted track, it sits within a collection of farm outbuildings. Luke’s is a sizeable one, with a vaulted ceiling from which a vintage claret royal banner hangs from oak beams. Lit by huge windows, the countless books, objects and items collected here have been amassed with the aim that they might ignite an idea at any given moment. “I learn by discovering and I love to time travel through my work. Seeing new places and looking at stuff like this” – he holds up a handful of theatre programmes in one hand and a copy of the sadly discontinued cult interiors magazine Nest in the other – “helps me do that.”

Luke’s studio is really an archive of his work, plus bits and pieces collected from multiple eras and various corners of the world. There are antiques and prized objects, “but there are also paper bags, stickers and bits of total junk. I don’t think of it as a ‘pretty’ space, as such. There are nice things here, things that I love, but it’s messy, full of old paint pots and scraps of fabric. Believe it or not, it’s also quite organised. In a fashion.” There are fragments from stage sets and fairground props littered about the place too. He tells us that Duncan, when he visits, can often be heard asking, “Where on earth did this come from?”

Painting and drawing using a mixture of gouache, oils, acrylic and watercolour, Luke comes to this space to do his messiest pieces, though working on larger scale canvases is fairly new to him. “I do a lot of smaller drawings on paper, which I sometimes work on at home, but it really depends on the job, how I’m feeling and what I need to have around me.” He occasionally writes his column for the Financial Times here, “or if I’m working on an interior design project, it can be helpful to be surrounded by the hundreds of fabric cuttings and wallpaper and carpet samples I have,” housed in a stately ebonised armoire. “If I’m designing for my clothing brand, Chateau Orlando, I often need to look over some of the items of clothing – I collect French theatre costumes from the 1930s and 40s.”

With two exhibitions to prepare for, work to do in a St Moritz hotel restaurant (“imagine a Peruvian menu served in a fabulous vaulted room full of classical Swiss features, with a mountain view”), a new book for which he’s illustrated queer tales from the ancient world, and the recent release of Chateau Orlando’s Cornish folklore-inspired autumn/winter collection, Luke’s been busy of late. But, looking around at this extraordinary, idea-sparking space, one gets the sense there’s more yet to come…

Further reading

Luke Edward Hall

Luke on Instagram

300,000 Kisses: Tales of Queer Love from the Ancient World, by Luke Edward Hall and Séan Hewitt, is published by Penguin

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