At home with: Frances Costelloe

We visited artist, Frances Costelloe in her North London home to discuss her beautiful work, her love of interior design and her sustainability values.
At home with: Frances Costelloe
At home with: Frances Costelloe 9

With an interest in the female form and ceramic work, Frances has successfully managed to combine the two with her minimal and stylish homeware collection, including lampshades, ceramics and drawings.

Although Frances is relatively new to the art world, her extended family certainly is not. Frances comes from a lineage of artists and designers including Lucian Freud and Bella Freud. Launching her own brand in 2018, she has gone from strength to strength, selling her own designs online and embarking on a limited edition project with Liberty London. Her individual style, striking one off pieces and bold use of Indian Ink, sets her work apart from the rest.

How did you come to start your own brand?

I have always painted, and I taught myself pottery when I was pregnant. When my baby was a few months old, I finally felt creative again and was inspired by all the exhibitions we were going to together like the Basquiat at the Barbican, the Matisse Studio show at the RA and Milton Avery on the day we registered his birth.

I had always drawn with a quill like pen with Indian ink but after encouragement from a friend, I started to work with a brush. We picked up a special one in Japan that feeds the ink through the brush like a pen. After drawing large self-portraits in Indian ink on paper I decided to translate these elements onto lampshades. With a spare few hours one evening, after my baby had gone to sleep I launched my online shop with photos I had taken in my kitchen.

At home with: Frances Costelloe 3

What made you want to make the leap from fashion to freelance artist?

I’m a brand consultant as well as an artist and have recently completed a project back at Bella Freud, where I used to work, working on their wonderful homeware collections. I found after working in fashion that I became far more drawn to interiors and homeware. I feel that my love of art and design ties more to this area and I love seeing all the amazing creations British designers are producing at the moment.

At home with: Frances Costelloe 5

What’s the biggest inspiration for your work?

My inspiration at the moment is drawn a lot from my ceramics practice. I found that having to create designs that work in the tricky and limiting world of glazing meant that my Indian ink drawings have, in turn become more reductive. A lot of my designs for works on paper come from ideas I have tried on ceramics. Works of classical nudes and the female form in painting and sculpture tend to inspire my work.

What items on your desk can you not work without?

I always need a notebook, pen and paper. I create online lists but always like having one next to me to remind me. I also have a secondhand, pink Roberts Radio that I play my music and podcasts through whilst I work, which I find pretty essential. I’ve become a bit obsessed with Pentel touch pens as well after buying some in Arket. I would Highly recommend them to anyone.

Do you think that your family’s history in the arts has played a part in the path you have now decided to pursue?

I definitely think it has. My grandma was an incredible painter and I was always inspired by her seemly effortless looking watercolour landscapes. I don’t want my work to ever look laboured. I find that really off putting in paintings. I like the freedom line drawings can create.

Do you have any favourite colour combinations?

For ceramics, blue and white. Apart from my recent collaboration with Lily Pearmain, all the ceramics I have created have been blue and white. I think the obsession stemmed from a young love of Willow pattern and the story behind that collection. For interiors I am very drawn to pink and green. I have a lovely welsh vintage blanket on my sofa in a green and black pattern and recently painted my floor studio green by Farrow & Ball.

Are there any artists that you take inspiration from?

I always take so much inspiration from the way my husband, Nick Jensen, works on his painting with such dedication. I also think Van Gogh will always heavily inspire me. I have been to the museum in Amsterdam about five times, which might be a bit excessive. I have also visited the recent exhibition at the Tate Britain, which is also pretty good. I think Van Gogh’s highly contrasted paintings have always been a favourite and the ways he can create floral paintings that have such depth and mood.

In terms of creatives I am very impressed with how Georgia Spray at Partnership Editions is reshaping the art world. She has the work of my friends Lisa and David Hardy online.

Are you reading anything right now?

I am reading the most incredible book that was recommended to me. The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk. It’s pretty heavy for before bed as it’s a study on how the brain and body process trauma. I’ve only just started, but am so intrigued so far.

Do you practice sustainability within your work?

With my business I try to use no plastic and wrap all my drawings in acid free tissue and pack with brown paper tape. I also hand paint all my notes to my customers and handprint my swing tags. I do use some bubble wrap for my ceramics but will be buying something greener when I run out. I am happy there is more of a dialogue about sustainability and I hope to learn more and improve where I can in my life and work.

What is your favourite Evermore scent and why?

It’s difficult to pick a favourite so I’ve had to choose two. Moon is beautiful and I can imagine burning this more as the nights draw in – the smoky undertones are addictive. I also love the fresh scent of Light for summer. There is something decadent about lighting a candle when it is still light outside. This summer solstice for the longest day of the year I will be illuminating my Light candle. With its citrus and bergamot scent, it’s perfect for celebrating the shortest night.

Follow Frances on Instagram