Since there are so many sources of tea towels these days, everything from supermarkets to Pound Stores, tourist agencies to Post Offices, people often ask how I decide on who is invited to join In Conversation With…. For me, it has to be someone whose tea towels I love: for their beauty, for their quirkiness, for their originality, for their art work, for their colour or any other manner of things. It will always be someone whose art work is not boring, ordinary and unimaginative. It may be someone I discovered through buying one of their tea towels or someone I’ve come across through my adventures on Twitter or Instagram (I don’t use any other forms of social media).
I saw Morag Lloyds’ work on Instagram. She produces fascinating and quirky work but she also announced that she had just started designing tea towels, as part of her collection; when ‘Lockdown’ came upon us so they weren’t all printed. I was interested in what inspired her work as an artist and why she wanted to include tea towels. Let me introduce you to Morag. I always start by asking how people describe themselves:
“I am an artist and designer. I started off life as a designer in London, in the early 80s, mostly with Rand and Alfred Marks. (For those of us from London, you will remember Alfred Marks and Rand advertising on the tube. They were employment agencies). I had a spell doing in-house training on display for shop windows in London during this time. Several years later, I moved to the Medway Towns and spent some time training at Kent College. I tried a bit of fine art, ceramics and design. I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go in, because I loved everything!
In the late 80s, I moved back up to my homeland, Scotland, and worked as a freelancer. It wasn’t until later that I went to college full-time, and trained in Illustration and Graphic Design, and went on to a Post-Diploma in Fine Art. (It was then I realised that computers were not my thing!). Painting was my first love and I had work accepted for both the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour and Royal Scottish Academy. I am now a member of Glasgow Society of Women Artists. I have a handful of galleries I show with, both in England and Scotland. I have been represented by some at the Affordable Art Fair in London, Glasgow and, once, in New York which was very exciting”.
I’m always interested in what artists dreamed of doing as a child, and what they ended up doing:
“An artist! My mother was very creative. She was a potter and she was a big influence on me. My parents had a business, so in my younger years I spent time helping with that. I had a brief spell travelling and doing lots of different jobs: as a waitress, in cinemas, in shops, in care homes and hospitals etc. I have worked a lot in health care. Combining art with health care was very hard but rewarding. I was an Art Lecturer at College and I taught Art in Community Education which I loved. I also had a brief three-year life in Scottish Tourism and have researched, and had published, two local history books”. (Morag is obviously well equipped for Lockdown).
I was interested to know how Lockdown has affected Morag’s business. “In one way it has been awful because all my outlets have closed for the moment. I’m worried about them and hope they can get through this, especially the outlets on the Western Islands, as I imagine the ferries will take a while to be running again, and not a lot of people will be keen on cruises.
BUT there is another side. It has given me space and time to focus, instead of the normal running around from here to there, with no time to just sit and paint for a long period. Right now, I am producing a lot of new designs; I have all my paperwork up to date; my Folksy Shop is filling up nicely so that’s all GOOD! I miss meeting art friends and sharing ideas but we chat online. Some of my galleries are very proactive, thinking of ways of being seen online which gives me hope. Now, more than ever, we need people to put real thought about how they spend their money and to focus on ‘local and handmade’ to keep us all going”.
I was interested to know how Morag got her inspiration:
“I am inspired by lots of things: nature, the sea, history, buildings, landscape. For many years I have painted, put my work in frames, and sold with galleries around UK. However, some years ago I decided to get some art work produced on to cards and prints. I attended some bigger shows such as the Edinburgh Festival to sell directly to the end customers and got some feedback too. It was fun and I was inspired…… and ready to take the next step. Unfortunately, just as I decided to pursue this road, I became rather ill. It has been a long road to recovery, not complete recovery, but enough to work more hours, at what I love. Though a complicated time for my business, I am back on track five years later.
Last summer, whilst in Argyll and travelling around the Islands, I created a collection of work for products. I decided to start with some tea towels because these can be used for a practical use or for display on a kitchen wall. I loved the idea that my designs could have a sort of message in them.
The first collection is about ‘Life under the Harbour Wall’: just because we can’t always see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and it’s so beautiful. The sea really must be protected, respected and loved. I have two designs printed and two waiting for print when things open up again. I am working on lots more that are going to be full colour. One tea towel has gone to America and another to Australia.
I also have a real soft spot for the Western Isles and my work sells on Mull. These are the small island communities I would like to sell with more and more, and my tea towels have found their way to several Island shops”.
Finally, I was interested to know how Morag’s business works and what she hopes for the future:
“My business is small. I am a sole trader. I sell my work online in my Folksy shop. Sometimes I attend fairs at Christmas but mostly I now supply shops and galleries by attending Trade Fairs. (The photograph at the top is of Morag at the Glasgow Trade Fair in January, before Lockdown!). I sell small, or mini, originals often through my Instagram page (Moraglloyds_Art).
I would love to be able just to keep doing what I am doing, but better.
Love the feet in the photo! Thank you Morag for a great story and beautiful tea towels. I can see these would be very popular in the Western Isles, once we are allowed to go there. Can’t wait to see how your tea towel range develops. Keep Safe
All photographs copyright Morag Lloyds.