Harriet Popham Q&A

We love January blues!

We're excited to share with you one of our 2022 parasols, Willow. Our new print, was designed in collaboration with V&A commissioned British artist, Harriet Popham who creates incredible prints from her Somerset studio. 

The whimsical Willow design weaves together the journey taken to create our parasols. It began as hand carved elements that tell the story of East London Parasols and Lucy’s inspiration for her creations. 

The playful design incorporates features from Bali, India and the UK where our parasols are handmade. As your eyes dance across this design you’ll spot Bengal tigers drinking from waterfalls, elephants holding parasols, a boat with our logo upon its sails, Balinese temples and Canary Wharf and the London skyline along the Thames.

Watch a video of Harriet making our Willow print here.

Blue and white are a classic colour combination, willow pattern originated in China and has been around since the 1700s. It's said to be based on ancient fairy tales originating in China around star constellations. Telling the story of separated lovers, envied by gods for their love. The lovers can only meet once a year when the stars align.

Traditional patterns incorporate certain design elements including; a water-scape, a two storey pavilion, foliage, a willow tree, river with a figure on a boat, a bridge over a river and an arch on the other side. British willow pattern uniquely included a pair of amorous swallows, certain vegetation and a garden fence.

Meet Harriet

Photo of Harriet Popham

When did you realise you wanted to be an artist- and what inspires you?

From the first time I remember being asked what I might like to do when I grew up. It’s always been art. 

I get my inspiration from places and moments in time, wonderful things my friends say, close embraces, vessels, shadows and stories. Everything is potential inspiration for a print. 

Home is…. ?

I see home as both a celebration of our experiences and the things we love as well as a space / invitation to build upon those memories. To make the people we care about comfortable, long chats under blankets, laughter over candlelight, the sharing of food, thoughts and calm. 

What room in the house would you be? 

In our house, possibly the staircase and hallway.. We have a two bed Victorian terrace with a strangely large U-shaped stairway and I’ve filled the surrounding walls with the work of many wonderful artists. It feels like the heart of our little home. Passing this artwork every day, thinking of all the creators behind the pieces, brings me much happiness. I also feel lucky to have been able to purchase the creations of other makers with my creative income. So although its just the stairs, this space feels like a celebration of many things. 

The DIY project you’re proudest of?

Stripping our house of many, many metres of shiny yellow wood chip wallpaper, uncovering original Victorian tiles and making it a home of mix-matched secondhand furniture with pops of colour.

What is your favourite party game?

Giant Pictionary, teams in different rooms, drawing on rolls of lining paper, racing through a list guarded by someone in the middle who releases the next film, book, play. I love this game, and the pace of it makes the drawings very loose and comical. There is no time to be creatively self conscious. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

As a maker - not to be afraid to create something crap. The worst that can happen is it’ll end up in the bin and you’ll have learnt something. It’s so important to make for the sake of making and embrace the process. When I run print workshops, the highlight for me is seeing people let their creative guard down and surprise themselves. Making with our hands is good for the soul. 


Check out our beautiful collaboration with Harriet on our website here.