Artist at home

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This live-work home in Halifax is a hive of activity thanks to enterprising artist Ruth Fletcher. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Scott Merrylees.

Space to work was top of the list when Ruth Fletcher was hunting for her latest home. A gifted artist, she combines a career in the greetings card industry with designing and making products for her own brand, Ruth Holly.

The cosy sitting room with new mantle and shelves. The lampshade, left, and cushions, right, are from Ruth's own range

The cosy sitting room with new mantle and shelves. The lampshade, left, and cushions, right, are from Ruth's own range

So when she spotted a tucked-away terrace house in Halifax with an attic conversion and views of Wainhouse Tower, she snapped it up. “Everything was right. I loved the location, the view of the tower and the layout of the house,” she says.

The loft room is now her studio. Painted white with a touch of John Lewis wallpaper, there is plenty of storage, including a ladder shelf from Made.com and drawers from Ikea.

It’s a calm environment, which helps when developing new ideas and fulfilling orders.

Ruth’s “to-do” list is especially long at the moment thanks to a surge in orders and an exciting recent commission.

The curated kitchen shelf

The curated kitchen shelf

After spotting her work at a trade show, the Hayward Gallery merchandising manager asked her to create a new collection to mark the building’s reopening after a two-year refurbishment.

The homeware and stationery now for sale in the gallery shop is proving popular with visitors to London’s South Bank Centre.

The rugged, abstract designs give the illusion of texture and depth and are printed on everything from art cards, cushions and notebooks to tea towels and place mats. They feature a sympathetic and tactile representation of the Hayward’s brutalist architecture.

Like most of Ruth’s work, the designs are based on original photographs, which are digitally altered before being printed on to products.

Ruth's bedroom painted in soft pink. The picture shelf is from Ikea. The cushions are Ruth's own design and for sale through her website

Ruth's bedroom painted in soft pink. The picture shelf is from Ikea. The cushions are Ruth's own design and for sale through her website

“I took pictures of the building from all angles, most of which people don’t see when they are just walking past it. They gave a different perspective and the close-ups show the surface texture and the colours that aren’t usually apparent,” she says.

Ruth, who has a degree in creative imaging, road tests all her products in her own home, where her trademark Signature and Aspect ranges feature heavily. There are lamps, cushions, wall hangings and place mats, all of which are up for discussion.

Feedback from family and friends, along with comments made by visitors to her trade show stands, has helped her three-year-old business grow.

“You get a better idea of what people really want,” Ruth says. “I now make rectangular place mats and small, slim cushions as a result of feedback.”

The dining table was a swap with the person who bought her old house and placemats are her own design

The dining table was a swap with the person who bought her old house and placemats are her own design

Her home also features work by other artists and designer makers. The etched glass dressing table mirror is by Otley-based Andy Poplar, aka Vinegar and Brown Paper, the striking light shade on the landing is by Beatrix Baker and the art card in her kitchen is by Emily Sutton. Even the soap in her bathroom is handmade by SeVin.

There was very little structural work to do when Ruth moved in just over a year ago but she has redecorated.

“It was very minimalist so I have redecorated and restyled to give it a more homely, rustic vibe,” she says.

The sitting room now has a mantelpiece and the alcoves, which were home to Ikea shelves, have been redressed with bespoke oak shelves from Jarobosky, a reclaimed timber specialist in Greetland.

The industrial-style pendant is from Next and the furniture is a mix of vintage buys from eBay and the Buy it Sell it centre in Halifax, new purchases and some homemade items.

“The dining table in my old house was too big so I left it for the new owner and she gave me her smaller table, which worked out brilliantly. My dad is really handy and he made me the coffee table from old pallets,” she says.

The fabric on the chair, lampshades above and the wallhanging are from her own range

The fabric on the chair, lampshades above and the wallhanging are from her own range

The bedroom on the first floor has been treated to cornicing and the yellow walls have been painted in soft pink, which reflects elements of Ruth’s Aspect range cushions. There’s also a feature wall sporting a geometric paper from John Lewis.

The bathroom was repainted and is now home to driftwood found in Northumberland, which has been turned into a shelf with a retro mirror above.

Almost every room has houseplants and fresh and dried flowers. “I love plants. They just make a room feel more relaxed,” adds Ruth. “But I have to be really careful because my cats, Flip Flop and Muffin, try to eat them so I have to make sure they are non-toxic.”

You can see and shop for Ruth’s work at ruthholly.co.uk and notonthehighstreet.com. It is also stocked at the Yorkshire Gallery at the Piece Hall in Halifax. The Hayward Gallery collection is available from the gallery’s online store at shop.southbankcentre.co.uk.

Part of Ruth's collection for the Hayward Gallery

Part of Ruth's collection for the Hayward Gallery