AW17 Coastal: Kirsty Elson

In celebration of our AW17 Coastal collection, we met up with multi-media artist and driftwood enthusiast, Kirsty Elson, to talk about her art and passion for the coastline…

October 18th 2017
The Barbour story began back in 1894 in our coastal homeland, South Shields – and we’ve been passionate about the coastline ever since. To celebrate the launch of our new Autumn Winter 17 Coastal collection, we’re rediscovering our heritage and lifelong relationship with the shore.  
When we discovered Kirsty Elson’s driftwood artwork, we couldn’t wait to meet up, and find out more about the inspiration behind her one-off sculptures from remarkable objects found on the shore. Find out what Kirsty had to say…
Tell us how you got started with creating art and driftwood art.
It all started back at art school where I studied illustration. However, I soon realised that illustration wasn’t for me. But when we moved to Cornwall and I started my own family, it all happened by accident! I began collecting bits and pieces from the beach and started making beautiful little cards from tiny slithers of driftwood.
Then, just over time, things seemed to have gotten bigger and more three-dimensional. I’m very dependent on the materials I find, so that makes every piece unique. No two pieces of driftwood are the same, so by the nature of the work, every piece is different.
What makes what you do, unique to you and your location?
My local area inspires me every single day, even though the pieces I create aren’t specific to a particular place. Though the pieces I create are universal, to me they look like Cornwall. The interesting thing about this, is that other people will say how they look like Wales or Scotland or even other places in the UK!
What do you love about what you do?
Everything! I am absolutely in love with what I do. My job involves going treasure hunting on the beach! What could be better? I never get bored because I am constantly inspired by the materials that I find, so I’m always pushing the boundaries and creating new things.
Kirsty wears our Barbour Trow Shirt styled with Barbour Essential Slim Jeans.
Can you tell us about what the coast means to you?
The coast has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up by the sea in Devon and used to go down to the beach every day in the summer. At art school in Cambridge I felt really landlocked, I hated not being by the sea. At the end of every term, I would love coming home on the train and seeing the sea again, like it was the first time.
How would you say that doing what you do lends itself to a slower pace of life?
My work can be a slow process because the wood I collect can take six months to completely dry, without being able to touch it or doing anything with it. When I go down to the beach, I take my time, and sometimes have to walk for a long time before I find anything.
Kirsty wears our Barbour Filey Waterproof Jacket.
Once I’ve found the right driftwood and let it sit in the shed to dry, I have to wait for inspiration to strike. I am completely led by the materials I find and tend to make it up as I go along. I’ll put pieces of wood together to see if it fits and I’ll get messy in the garage when I saw, drill and sand the wood.
Once the basic design is taking shape I’ll move upstairs to a slightly cleaner space in the house where I make all of the decorative parts. This is my favourite part, making little ladders, lampposts and boats. All sorts of nice little details that make it that extra bit special.
Discover more about our AW17 Coastal campaign here, or shop the Women’s collection.