With lockdown restrictions easing I’ve been able to travel to meet Fenella at her workshop situated a little way off the beaten track in a converted dairy building amidst bucolic Frensham countryside. With the pandemic altering the way everybody works it must have been difficult for someone who had recently started life as a self-employed business owner.
“Almost all of my business comes from craft and design shows so when it hit [the pandemic] the shows stopped overnight”, reflects the Armstrong House alumna. Reacting quickly to the changing circumstances, she refocused her business efforts on the digital world whilst also becoming a Key worker, helping to feed the nation at her local Waitrose during the first lockdown.
“Fairly soon I found a lot more people were visiting my site than previously. It’s quite scary wondering where your next order is coming from but there is nothing better than sitting at home, hearing your phone ping and realising you’ve sold something.”
Talk shifts to where she first discovered her passion for the creative world of design. Turns out it was half a world away. She was just seven years old when her father’s military career took her family to Mexico City.
“I found myself surrounded by vibrant traditions and a highly creative culture. Something that has stayed with me ever since is seeing how some of the most creative and striking work can be conceived from very little. It’s something I try to emulate now as a silversmith, sometimes less really is more.”
Creativity also runs in the family and a young Fenella was driven to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps, herself a Scholar at the Royal College of Art. “She could do pretty much everything but I never saw her turn her hand to metalwork, so I like to think that I am completing that final piece of the circle.”
Metalwork wouldn’t become a focus until after her Bradfield studies but, arriving in the Sixth Form as a Textiles Scholar, Fenella still quickly found herself at home in the Art Schools.