Sara Graham’s House in Wiltshire

Sarah Graham’s six-year-old daughter, who carefully carries beetles from the yard of an 18th-century house, shouts, “Mummy, quick, look.” Sarah is clearly pleased that her daughter shares her charm with beetles, ladybugs and spiders. Famous as a large-scale painter of exotic plants, flowers and insects, she has delivered a new monograph of her work that she proudly showed to her interested daughter, following her recent exhibition in London.

Sarah and her husband, art dealer James Holland Hibert and her two young daughters, are in the village of Wiltshire, surrounded by the finest British art of the mid-20th century and a collection of antique prints of Sarah’s insects and flowers. I am enjoying my summer vacation at my house. Inspiration for her.

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James lived here before he got married, but I wonder why he chose a house with five bedrooms as a man. “But it seemed manageable, there were decently sized rooms, no dark corridors or huge open plan areas,” he says. Built for real estate managers of large local real estate, the building is two room depths, all located around a central double-height hall with front and rear windows. Most of the changes James made were superficial. He removed all the carpets that were attached and was thrilled to find the original elm floorboards in good condition underneath. The seamless extension to the drawing room built in the 70’s didn’t have these old boards, so he took them out of one of the bedrooms and re-carpeted them. The ugly chimney in the drawing room has been replaced with a vortex-molded stone surround.

Sarah, whom he met in London, grew up just a few miles from his home and was anxious to have a place in the area. Both love to stroll through the ancient ruins of the Salisbury Plains and collect works by artists associated with the region. The couple’s bedroom is adorned with views of David Inn Shaw, William Nicholson, Robin Tanner, and Freyja Wood. “It’s all about the purpose and history associated with us,” explains Sarah.

Adjacent to their bedroom is a large bathroom, boasting two of their favorite pieces. On one side of the claw-foot bath in the center of the room is an etching of his son-in-law by Lucian Freud, and on the other is the Goliath wolf beetle from one of Sara’s first exhibitions in the early 2000s. There is a picture of a pen and ink. The curtains are made of camel blankets reminiscent of Sarah’s journey. “The bathroom doesn’t look like a bathroom, I just like a room that happens to have a bath,” she says. “They must be a sanctuary place full of books and nice things.”

James collects what he describes as “timeless and sophisticated Georgian style and Arts and Crafts furniture.” I like to combine this with lighting and photography from the last 100 years. In the kitchen, an early 20th-century heel table with Ernest Gimson’s ladder back chair is placed under Damien Hirst’s spot painting. In the dining room, James found six leather chairs by 20th-century Danish designer Carle Clinton that matched Sara’s round regency rosewood table. But in general, Sarah explains. “James works on the bones of the house and I’m physical and cluttered.”

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They also got the help of interior designer Camilla Guinness. Camilla Guinness was invited to search all over the cupboards full of antique fabrics and find their uses around the house. Camilla also brought in some African Kuba cloths to hang in the drawing room on the wall adjacent to the paintings of the artists Edward Rose and Graham Sutherland, who had a strong influence on Sarah’s work. They painted the walls of the drawing room with Farrow & Ball’s “Setting Plaster”. It was chosen because it is “warm, beautifying the skin and suitable for dark paintings”. The other rooms in the house are also painted in soft shades. The willow green dining room and the room on the second floor are pale camels. “This neutral background makes it easy to move photos,” explains James. In contrast, the TV room is painted red in a bright mailbox.

When I leave, Sarah’s daughter shows me a glass case full of amber obsidian and smoky quartz. This is a house arranged in a relaxed and unconscious way, and there is always something interesting, regardless of age.

Camilla Guinness Interior:
Sarah’s work appears in a recently published book’Sara Graham‘Ridinghouse (£ 35)

Sara Graham’s House in Wiltshire

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