The Dalmeny Estate in South Queensferry has been centre to artist Chloe Gardner’s business in many ways - inspiration (place), materials (feathers, flowers etc) and space (domestic and work).
Returning to Scotland in 2006, she and her husband found a cottage to rent on the Dalmeny Estate.
Chloe says: “Every day I was and am inspired by The Dalmeny estate. I walk out on to the beach and I feel all tension ebb away. The deer, the wildlife, the farms, the birds, the wild garlic & wild flowers - all of it inspires me. Our beach is a protected bird beach full of curlews and oyster catchers and I started picking up curlew feathers and making them into pattern pictures. Inspired by Scottish nature I produced bright contemporary pictures of animals - stags, highland cows, boxing hares etc. Friends would visit the house and everybody loved them. I put a stag on a Christmas card and within a day 16 people called me up and said they wanted to buy the original”. It was becoming apparent that Chloe had a viable business on her hands.
Keen to support Chloe, the Estate offered to lend her a room for an exhibition with the proviso that a percentage of anything sold be donated to one of the charities Lady Rosebery supports. The event was a tremendous success, she sold 30 pictures and raised a good sum for charity. This opportunity gave Chloe sufficient funds to invest in having pictures printed and framed so she could offer them on a sale or return basis to some farm shops and tea rooms.
This is where another Scottish Estate has played an important role in Chloe’s success story. Finzean Farm Shop in Aberdeenshire (Finzean Estate) was the first farm shop to not only take Chloe’s work, but to suggest that she have cards made of the designs, which she duly did. Thanks to her art being in Finzean, the BBC’s Landward programme saw her work and loved how she took traditional country subjects but made them so totally different. Landward featured Chloe’s work on a programme filmed at her cottage at Dalmeny and now one of their presenters hangs one of her original stags on their wall at home.
Chloe's range has expanded and she now sells tea towels, fine bone china mugs, cushions, cards, prints, oven gloves, aprons, table mats and bags and her products can be found in about 100 shops around Scotland. All her products are made in the UK. Having expanded her business successfully, in February 2016 she started renting a 52 sq metre steading on the Dalmeny estate and says: “I am still getting used to it but I am certainly enjoying having all my stock in one large room at last.” She clearly loves living and working on the Estate and is grateful for the support she has received and the opportunity to expand without having to relocate.
Take a look at Chloe’s website to see her work: http://chloegardnershop.com