Norfolk artist’s enchanted Christmas garden
- Credit: Lucy Loveheart
Lucy Loveheart's Norfolk cottage garden is inspiring festive magic and sparkle for Marks and Spencer
Trees shimmer with jewel-like stars, unicorns with gold and silver striped horns prance along snowy paths, skies are sprinkled with delicate snowflakes, and tiny joyful people skate in enchanted landscapes.
Norfolk artist Lucy Loveheart has long been loved by the people who know her work from the children's books she has illustrated and the paintings, posters, fabrics, ceramics and cards she creates.
Her fairytale style, creating naïve but exquisitely detailed dream-like palaces and gardens, complete with glitter and stickers, has won her commissions to produce artwork for Kew Gardens in London, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire and Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, and for organisations ranging from the East Anglia's Children's Hospices to Amnesty International.
Now her beautiful cottage garden is being admired by people all over the country as the inspiration for the Marks and Spencer Enchanted Christmas Collection.
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Lucy first came to Norfolk to study at the Norwich School of Art, now Norwich University of the Arts, and after continuing to hone her talents at the Royal College of Art in London, returned to the county and lives and works in Wood Dalling, near Reepham.
For Marks and Spencer this year she has created her Enchanted Christmas range. The store's Lucy Loveheart Enchanted Christmas Tin shows a fairytale shopping palace and is packed with exquisitely decorated tubs and tubes of festively scented handcream, body lotion, shower gel, bath soak and body butter. It is a companion piece to her Enchanted Garden range, also for M&S and also inspired by her own orchard, herb garden and flowers. Even the fragrances, included pippin and pear, lavender and sage and rose petal and lily fragrances lead back to her garden.
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'Our garden surrounds the studio and our home, which is nestled in the heart of country, down a long twisting lane, miles from anywhere,' said Lucy. 'I had always dreamt of creating an arboreal garden with magical little rooms and secret passage ways. However when we first moved here, our garden consisted of three open fields. Patrick, my husband, immediately planted over 200 hundred trees. For us the trees have become the stars of the show. For many years they were stumpy little bushes, but after a while, they evolved into fully grown trees and he started to make little paths and walkways between within them. It has been a long time in the making, but so worth the wait.'
'Wherever we can we have tried to create a canvas of green (with lawns and trees) and swathes of white (with shrubs ad bushes) and then little splashes of bright colours (using flowers). This is the look and feel I wanted to create for the collection too.'
She finds rural Norfolk a magical place to paint and her Christmas cards are often inspired by favourite places around the coast and in the countryside between Reepham and Wolterton.
'This area is slightly off the beaten track and feels as though it is lost in the mists of time. The roads are tiny and peaceful and teeming with wildlife,' said Lucy. 'Some of the most beautiful houses and halls such as Thurning, Blickling, Heydon, Mannington and Wolterton are secretly nestled within the landscape.'
The house at the heart of her Enchanted Gardens pictures is not her own, but a fantasy based on buildings she has seen and loved. 'I did a sort of imaginary audition in my mind, to find the perfect house,' she said.
Real life and fairytale meet in all her pictures. Glittering unicorns and snow-white peacocks wander through her enchanted gardens. 'When we first moved here we inherited two goats, a duck and a chicken,' explained Lucy. 'To my fanciful mind, the menagerie began to evolve in my imagination and they began featuring in my paintings as a pair of unicorns, a peacock and a love bird!'
For more of Lucy's festive loveliness, including Christmas cards, visit www.lucyloveheart.com