Martyn Thompson is a multidisciplinary artist who embraces an aesthetic defined by the touch of the hand.
Thompson began his career making clothes before deciding to document them instead. He worked as a fashion photographer in Sydney and Paris and then in London and New York where his scope broadened into the world of interiors and still life. With an idiosyncratic approach to life and style, his work is Human-centric and connects to the environment in ways that allow the everyday to take on an enigmatic quality.
A visual push me / pull me between nostalgia and the present, his work is defined by a tactile and painterly language. Today his studio practice has branched out into various creative expressions: interior installation, textile and product design, ceramics and Limited-edition art. He collaborates with brands to give creative direction in areas that help shape and define their identity.
Thompson has worked on a number of published titles, including Ilse Crawford’s ‘Sensual Home’, ‘Home is where the Heart is’ and the highly successful ‘River Cafe cook’ books. He has authored two books: ‘Interiors’ and ‘Working spaces’ and contributed editorial to highly respected magazines including Elle Decoration, Architectural Digest, W, The New York Times Magazine and Vogue. Commercially, he’s created photographic imagery for many of the world’s leading brands including Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Hermès and Jo Malone.
His ‘Accidental Expressionist collection, with British ceramics company 1882Ltd, was awarded Best Tableware 2020 by ‘Elle Decoration UK’ and his collaboration with ‘Perennials Rugs’ fetched up awards from Interior Design USA and Architizer A+ Jury Awards 2018 for best carpets. Thompson was also a finalist in the Rigg Design Prize installation at the National Gallery of Victoria “Domestic Living” exhibit, 2019.
The collaboration between this world-class photographer and artist and the Milanese craftsmen Fabscarte started in 2016 thanks to the vision of Federica Sala, a famous independent art and design advisor who collaborates with museum institutions, art businesses, designers and magazines. Federica among many other things, connects people with similar vision and synergic competences.
The first meeting between Martyn and the Fabscarte team was exciting: the artist brought some fabrics he had recently worked on and as soon as he showed those to the FABSCARTE team, the artistic brainstorming started. The master craftsmen translated the inspiration of those textiles into their own personal language leveraging metallic powders and coloured pigments layered in tissue paper, to create the first samples. After further steps to fine-tune the colours, the first 2 wallpapers were ready for production. The result of the collaboration was Midnight Moon Dust inspired by one of Martyn’s fabrics, Drop Cloth from “The Accidental Expressionist” collection. The second was Rose Scented Mirage, a rose perfume translated into a wallpaper.
These two artworks were featured for the first time at the Milan Design Week 2017 in the exhibition ‘Ladies & Gentlemen’ with an incredible success and the attention of audiences and critics. They are now established favourites in the Fabscarte collection.
After four years from the launch of these wallpapers we are meeting Martyn to revisit the background of this successful collaboration to find out what could be next.
Why were you interested in collaborating with Fabscarte?
From first time I met the guys in Milano I was impressed by the whimsy of Fabscarte’s work and their unique approach. I liked their know-how, the skill that was allowing them to encapsulate the knowledge of the great masters of Italian craftsmanship and translate it into wallpaper design. And I loved their ability to create an artwork that is unique; we live in a world where everything is mass-produced and their handmaking seems special to me. It is so hard to find something unique and together we could achieve it.
I also appreciate the very tactile and three-dimensional quality of their products that allows the senses to be involved on multiple levels: touch and sight convey an emotion that becomes aesthetic. There is a certain magic in their craftsmanship which feels true to the passion and poetry that inhabits the Italian soul.
Which are the commonalities between your arts – what made this collaboration so successful ?
There are several elements, but the most important, I believe, is the shared love of beauty: we both have the same desire to create something beautiful, unique, inspiring. I am convinced that the mission of an artist is creating beauty to inspire happiness: this is what makes me proud of my artwork and ultimately happy. This passion overrides any commercial interest, because when you are in a state of artistic flow, creativity becomes the first and only driver; anything else is secondary. In this world where art seems to become more and more a commercial matter, I appreciated the Fabscarte team’s passion for beauty without compromise.
What is next in your art ?
A lot of changes on the horizon for me. I have decided to move Martyn Thompson Studio to Australia from where I will continue my collaborations. As for the future I am planning to focus on unique artworks that hang on a wall. I have been working on some paintings and new tapestries and photos and potentially new wallpaper with the Fabscarte team. With this regards I would love to revisit Midnight Moon Dust, keeping the same pattern and experimenting new tints. I would like create a “Midday Moon Dust” using the yellows and the oranges to generate a brand new atmosphere showing how an artwork can radically transform the effect and the impression on the viewer through the variation of colours.
You can visit Martyn Thompson at http://www.martynthompsonstudio.com