Southsayer style special: Sarah Hamilton, artist and designer

To celebrate Artists’ Open House this coming weekend (11-12 May 2013), part of the Dulwich Festival, we took a nose …

Sarah Hamilton crop portraitTo celebrate Artists’ Open House this coming weekend (11-12 May 2013), part of the Dulwich Festival, we took a nose around the home and work of south London artist and designer, Sarah Hamilton. A fine art/printmaking graduate of Central St Martin’s, Hamilton started her career making cards for Paperchase, The Conran Shop and Designer’s Guild. She now also sells prints, mirrors and woodblocks, which she makes in the studio in her unusual mid-century south London house.

Describe your style
Contemporary, colourful and comfortable. Colour brings the sun into your life whatever the weather.We have a 1950s house with a mix of design classics, high street and independent shop purchases, charity shop discoveries and swaps from designer/maker friends.

What do you buy stuff for your home locally?
Do South in Crystal Palace has a colourful range of furniture, textiles and glassware. Crystal Palace Antiques and Modern Warehouse is a delight, and Matt Mitchell London in the basement has many covetable pieces. For smaller things, there’s Doopoodoopo and Stag and Bow in Forest Hill. We usually visit The Modern Shows at Dulwich College – I don’t think we’ve ever left empty handed.

What’s your favourite thing in your home?
I’ve been collecting 1950s crockery and vintage tins for years – the gorgeous colours and graphic imagery never cease to inspire me. Unless it’s a junk shop or charity find it’s not meant to be mine: it’s not that I mind spending money on them, it more that if it’s pricy it’s not a discovery!

Where would you like to live in south London?
Where we are now – Crystal Palace/Dulwich borders. The setting is gorgeous and often people say they feel like they’re in the country, yet it’s not 15 mins from Victoria.

What is your favourite dish and why?
Nature Study – Midwinter by Terence Conran simply beautiful, drawn designs  – oh you didn’t mean china?  Food-wise you can’t  beat a great Pad Thai from Kaosarn in Brixton Market.

What is your earliest south London memory?
The fun we had in the ten years living in Brixton.

What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“You see that beautiful old pub/shop/building – it’s been bought by an unsympathetic developer and will undergo a hideous conversion.”  Always pretty gutting.

Where do you hang out?
We’re walking distance from Crystal Palace so often shop or eat there. It’s got the lot, stunning views, fabulous places to eat and great independent shops – favourites include The Sparrowhawk and Bookseller Crow. I also love Brixton Market, the shops and cafes are lovely – spectacular things have happened there and its buzzing with creativity.

Your favourite south London building or landmark?
Crystal Palace station. If you’ve been there you’ll know why. It’s stunning architecturally and a great reflection of Victorian grandeur. If you come to our Artists Open House its a 15-minute walk from us.

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
Fewer empty shops. I hate to see a shop boarded up for years and cannot see the logic. Lots of designer/maker friends would make brilliant use of a shop, but there’s so much red tape in the way of small businesses and it’s why many are empty. Where’s the sense in that?

What are your south London Saturday mornings like?
They’re often spent swimming at the Crystal Palace sports centre. It’s such a fabulous 50m pool and the building is yet another south London architectural gem.

Describe yourself as an animal
I quite like being human as it happens but if you insist I’ll be an urban fox. What a great way to have a nosey into lots of houses to get design ideas for your den.

Photographs: James Balston and Carlos Dominguez

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Visit Sarah’s Dulwich home on 11-12 May (11-6pm) as part of Artists’ Open House. She will be joined by fellow artist Gabriela Szulman who will be exhibiting her prints and collages, and photographer Carlos Dominguez. Author Lotte Worth will also be there, signing copies of her new book, The Perfect Suicide. Download a map and guide to the Festival and Open Artist House events at the Dulwich Festival website

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