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A Room of One's Own: Fee Greening's bewitching shepherd's hut in rural Dorset

In this sequestered shack, the self-described 'West Country witch' and illustrator, Fee Greening, creates ethereal artwork for a roster of glamorous clients. Here, she provides us with a window on to her (and Patti's) world – her private space to think, and conjure mystical images from her dip pen and ink

Madeleine Silver
Elliot Sheppard
A Room of One's Own: Fee Greening's bewitching shepherd's hut in rural Dorset

“You’ll find the cottage below the tall poplar trees,” explains the ethereal illustrator and artist, Fee Greening, as I approach, sat-nav redundant in this corner of rolling west Dorset. Passing low-beamed pubs, scattered thatch cottages and the mystical Cerne Abbas Giant looming on the hillside, there’s a feeling of time in rewind here; a step into one of Fee’s whimsical illustrations. Part fairy-tale, part bucolic bliss.

It was four years ago that Fee (who is originally from Devon) and her boyfriend, Dan White, a guitarist and music producer, decided to leave London, landing first in a rented cottage in the shadow of nearby Lulworth Castle. On weekends, they filled their new home with friends who dived into vats of anchovy pasta and bottles of Hattie Brown’s beer post-swim off the pebbled beach beyond. Dorset had cast its spell and, in 2022, they bought their own thatched cottage at the bottom of a rutted track with a spluttering stream that weaves around the garden.

The shepherd’s hut was Fee’s first priority: an escape from drum kits and a place to imagine and draw. “I’ve been able to pin stuff to the walls and make it my universe,” she says. In London, she had rented a desk space from friends, so this is her first sanctuary – a place to conjure her dip pen and ink drawings for clients including Alex Eagle, Florence and The Machine and Hermès.

“The way it’s ended up, a lot of my clients are quite glamorous. And then I’m just here, covered in ash from the fire and eating crumpets in my muddy boots.” Below, Fee explains the hideaway she’s created under those towering trees, and how it shapes the rhythm of her day.

Fee Greening: “I wake up early, get the woodburner in the hut going, then make breakfast in the cottage while the hut warms up. At lunchtime I have a cheese sandwich and Heinz Tomato Soup and take my dog, Patti, out for a leg stretch, and another one at sunset. By the time it gets dark, I head back to the house and continue to work from there.

“For such a sedate art form, I have a lot of fast-paced deadlines, often in different time zones. So, it’s good to take some space to cool off with a short walk and collect my thoughts. It’s so rugged and brutal around here, which I think comes into my work.

“It’s a very mystical place; we’re on a ley line, there’s a burial mound just behind us that is 4,500 years-old, and the ridgeway is a direct line that goes all the way to Stonehenge. I mean, we literally found a miscellaneous piece of bone in our vegetable patch recently …

“I wanted a colour for the walls that felt like nature but wasn’t too grungy and dark, which is what I normally like. We chose ‘Churlish Green’ from Farrow & Ball, which is more moss-coloured. I think I was imagining dragons when I chose Farrow & Ball’s ‘Bamboozle’ for the windows. It cheers you up on a miserable day and is fresh and light in the summer.

“It was on the last stroke of red paint that there was a massive thunderstorm. The roof leaked and it was like a murder scene in here – red paint everywhere! I bought the hut from a first-time hut builder and, when you buy something for a bargain, there’s usually a reason. Plankbridge – a local company which makes incredibly smart shepherd’s huts – came to the rescue. They fixed it up and sorted the windows and electrics. They’ve been like fairy godmothers.

“All my work is inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts, and a lot of those images tend to have these window moments, like I’ve created around the bed. With the help of my mum’s sewing skills we have covered the mattress in Floralia material by Schumacher, the cushions in my own Pearl Twist fabric, and created a curtain that hides all my stuff.

“I’ve been working on four more wallpapers to add to my collection with Common Room – one of my favourites is Heraldic, which is made up of charming, mythical animals and matches my existing Heraldic fabric. On the bed is a little electric blanket, so Patti can dry off and watch me work after she’s been splashing in the river.

“My Baba Yaga witch puppet sits on my shelf protecting the hut. I’ve had her since I was a kid and my mum has been desperately trying to get it out of their house as she’s pretty creepy. I’m thrilled to have her here and have named the hut after her. Baba Yaga means ‘guardian of the fountains of the water of life.’ She’s a witch in Slavic folklore that lived in an enchanted hut that moved about the woods at night on chicken legs, which seems very apt.

“I love a stick. The ones I have in my hut are from a local beach, and I’m always collecting hag stones, which I keep on my desk. They’re magic – you’re meant to see the future through the hole in them. Some people think it’s silly, but when you’re looking for an answer and then you find one, it becomes a little protector for you.

“I bought my first quill on a family holiday to Venice when I was little. That’s how it all began. When I was a kid, I had a friend whose mum was an illustrator. I remember going into her studio and seeing these jars of immaculate pencils. It’s been such an aspiration to have a place where I can keep my pencils like that. I’m a creature of habit and am obsessed with Arches hot pressed paper. I also go on an annual trip to L. Cornelissen & Son in London to buy my paints.

“If I get stuck with my work then I listen to Led Zeppelin, PJ Harvey or the audiobook of ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estés – a book about what it means to be wild. That makes me feel a bit more powerful. And I have to get out in nature, even if it’s howling wind or rain. It’s about getting back to the core of it.”

Further Reading

Fee Greening

Fee Greening on Instagram

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