Tune for a Monday Morning
On Your Desk

On Your Desk


This week, all the "Desktop" photos come from neighbors who live and work here in my village....

The first desk belongs to a dear old friend of mine: textile artist Yuli Somme, who designs and makes felt products ranging from clothes, tea cosies, and wall-hangings to wool burial shrouds.

"My workspace is a large, drafty and damp granite barn beside the village church," says Yuli. "It’s called Bellacouche, meaning ‘beautiful resting place’ in Clerks Latin. At one time coffins were made and stored here. I am continuing the tradition by making ‘soft coffins,' made of locally sourced wool and wood.

"Within the barn I built interior walls and a roof to create a smaller, warmer, drier studio, which takes up two thirds of the barn's space. The outer part is used as an exhibition space every September; the rest of the time it's for storing twenty large rolls of felt and other useful things.

"At first the barn seemed so neglected and gloomy. In previous decades it’s been used as a garage and the floor is still oily; then it was abandoned for years. Despite the topic of my work I feel I have breathed new life into the space, helped by the occasional visitor and also the variety of industry going on inside: the making of hot water bottle covers, oven gloves, and tea cosies amidst the strange clutter of a busy workshop. I also usually listen to Radio 4, or put on music as I work."



"Around the walls: a very old Norwegian tapestry, rescued from the back of a farm horse in Norway by my Norwegian grandpa; a Turkish ‘kepenek’ - Kurdish shepherds cape; test samples to remind me of old and new ways of working. It’s like an open sketch book, life sized. For six weeks during our cold spell this winter I was kept company by a featherless chicken, now reunited with her flock (of three!)."



"There’s a tub for offcuts, another for composting; others hold rolls ready for hat-making and other creations. There are stacks of naturally dyed felt, arranged by colour but rarely orderly. My recently adopted rule is to tidy up on Fridays so that I get a feeling of order and space to help with clear thinking on a Monday morning. It helps, but I wish it hadn’t taken me twenty years to learn this trick!"



To see more of Yuli's beautiful work, visit the Bellacouch website, and the Bellacouch Etsy Shop. You also find an article about Yuli here (in the archives of the Journal of Mythic Arts), and you can read about her wonderful "Felt Feet on Dartmoor" project here and here.

Our second workspace today, which is also in an old stone barn, belongs to another old friend of mine, Dhevdhas Nair. Dhev is a brilliant musician (primarily a pianist and percussionist, although he also plays a number of other Western and Eastern instruments) who has toured all across Europe, Africa, and India -- both as a solo artist, and with various jazz, African, rock, and World music groups. He is also a composer, a teacher, and a member of the medieval music & dance troupe Daughters of Elvin, based here on Dartmoor.

Dhev's studio 1

"My studio is in a barn is next to the large Victorian house where I live on the edge of the village," he says. "I rehearse with bands, teach, write, record and sometimes just doodle around in here. Some years ago, on a warm July day, when I was working on some music for a film, I happened to glance up out of my window across the valley towards Dartmoor's Kes Tor in the distance. With one hand on the mixing desk, the other hovering over the hammered dulcimer, I suddenly saw where I was, and realised it was where I had always wanted to be - in a beautiful place, doing what I love."

Dhev's studio 2

"It's actually the former coach house with very thick stone walls. Having stored some of Katy Marchant's cloth sculptures in here for a couple of years previously and discovered that it was totally dry, I realised it would be a good environment for a piano, so I triple glazed it, insulated the floor and ceiling, and - musician's dream - can play at any time without disturbing anyone!"

Dhev's Studio 3

"It has the advantage of large wooden doors through which I can load my gear directly into the car to go for gigs. It's a ramshackle sort of place, but it suits my way of working, which often includes walking in the surrounding hills and coming back to give the resulting inspiration directly to the music."

Visit Dhev's MySpace page to hear some of his gorgeous original compositions.

Dhev's studio 4

More village desktops in the days ahead....