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A Room of One’s Own: how artists Eliza Hopewell and Theodore Vass handcrafted the bedroom of their first flat together

Inigo meets the young artists to learn more about how they pulled together their bedroom scheme by playing to their individual strengths and trusting the process - and one another

Words
Nick Carvell
Photography
Kensington Leverne
A Room of One’s Own: how artists Eliza Hopewell and Theodore Vass handcrafted the bedroom of their first flat together

Eliza: “We definitely come from different places aesthetically, but we manage to agree on decor because we both really love things that are made by hand – that is our ultimate goal. Theo has a much better awareness of form than I do, and I have a better awareness of colour. So that goes together quite well. I let him make the weird shelves and he’ll let me paint weird colours!”

 

Theodore: “I bent the squiggly shelf above the fireplace myself. I used a thin 4mm plywood and laminated about seven sheets together. I built the shelf and the cupboards before we had our studio space at Thameside, in Eliza’s grandfather’s workshop in Blackheath. I’m not a trained carpenter, so I come to woodwork from an artist’s background; my focus is more on how I can use an unusual form in a functional way. I guess having a curved shelf doesn’t make too much sense from a purely practical point of view, but aesthetically it’s quite interesting. I wanted the structure to be playful and a way to bring those two wardrobes together.”

 

Eliza: “I didn’t even ask Theo what the bed was going to look like. I was really happy for him to just go for it. I wanted to see what he’d do. We can always change things if they don’t work out as it’s not like we’re spending thousands of pounds.”

 

Theodore: “Because we have been doing most of the decoration through the pandemic, we’ve been locked in our own little world and there’s been no one to mediate or check on us. So there’s a few things that some people might think are a little bold. There was a time in the winter when we just had the blinds down because it was cold and we barely left. We were just making things and painting things.”

Eliza: “I really love Charleston House and the distemper they’ve used on the walls there. I wanted a similar treatment for this room, so we began researching lime-washes. It took a really long time to find the correct shade as I really wanted this exact green. I can’t count how many different samples we got through! Eventually, I found a really great paint sourcer in Clapham, a woman called Francesca, who really shared my love of colour and she found what we were after. It has a wonderful dappled effect, it’s really velvety and deep. When the sunlight hits the walls, it’s so beautiful. Plus, it’s a really healthy paint and it allows the walls to breathe, moving with the walls, which, in an older house like this, is really useful.”

“I envisaged the cornice frieze as one big artwork. I used to live in Glasgow – lots of the flats there have beautiful high ceilings and cornicing, so I’ve often been in rooms like this and thought it’s a prime space for decoration that’s often forgotten, especially in a bedroom when you’re looking at the ceiling a lot! It’s very dreamy. I wanted it to have a reading type of quality as it’s an artwork that leads you around the room. My favourite section always changes. Right now, there’s a bit by the cupboards that I particularly like, which is filled with little birds and two guys in bed, who I took from a Hockney drawing. And there’s a pair of crossed legs near the door and a smoking woman that I like. I like being able to look at the different facets of it, to forget bits and rediscover them.”

Theodore: “In Liverpool, I was running a gallery with a couple of friends and working at the Tate. Now I work for the Tate in London and have a studio in Thameside Studios in Woolwich. It’s a place where I go to do my carpentry, but it’s also where Eliza and I have collaborated on our tile tables.”

Eliza: “We have one of our tile tables by the window, but they’re due to go into an exhibition in Brixton next month and will probably be sold there soon. We live around the artwork we make to sort of test them out. Sometimes we think about keeping one, but sadly, we have a mortgage to pay.

“It’s really lovely to have the bay window. The room looks out towards Lewisham college, a weirdly beautiful old brutalist building. The only problem is that even though we’re in a raised ground floor position and slightly above street level, there’s quite a lot of people who can potentially see in. That’s why I made the big linen curtains, so we can have a bit of privacy without having to compromise on the light. We have padded blackout blinds for the winter as it can get very cold because the windows are so big. They really keep the heat in.”

Theodore: “That’s my pipe planter on the wall next to the bay window. I did a residency with the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Aberdeen a couple of years ago and I got obsessed with making ceramic pipes, which are now dotted around the room. At the residency, I was interested in how functional forms like pipes live alongside more organic forms such as Lichen and other types of plant growth. So I ended up making this planter because of that. It’s one of my weird Dragon’s Den ideas: planters that are attached to the walls on a baton, which means that you can slide the planter along the wall so the plant can always be in the sun. It’s still a work in progress!”

Eliza: “The old photos about the fireplace are of my grandfather at school. We’ve got quite a lot of his paintings and bits and bobs around the house. Theo’s dad was also an artist and he died in 2015; one of his artworks is hanging above the stairs. Then my mum was really into interior design and colour; she died at the end of 2019 just before my grandfather. There’s a lot of past people in here. It feels like a lot of the things we’ve done to this flat have been done to remember them and continue their legacy. It’s nice to still have them around.”

 

Further Reading

Eliza & Theo on Instagram

Eliza Hopewell

Theo Vass

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