A.Prin Art Studio: ‘Framing is a language…’
Benedict Foley and Daniel Slowik began renting Pink Cottage soon after they met, because their London place is in Hackney and East Anglia is a ‘good trajectory’ out from there. Benedict is a a dealer in fine and decorative art and antiques, with an online gallery – A.Prin art – specialising in paintings by forgotten or less considered twentieth century artists and picture frames. Daniel has been with Sybil Colefax and John Fowler for 23 years, at first running their antique department and now as one of the interior design team.
Daniel and Benedict have quite firm ideas about taste and decoration, which have been continually resolving themselves at Pink Cottage. ‘It’s not a forum for finished decoration because it’s rented and it’s got lots of things in it. When we moved in we both had rather a lot of stuff,’ says Benedict. ‘We took everything out of storage and put it all into a charming, rather small house. And then, after that necessity really took over… It was a question of rotation.’ ‘It’s not static and it’s all used,’ says Daniel. ‘You know, a tidal estuary where things go in and out,’ adds Benedict. The cottage was let unfurnished, with its pretty old fitted kitchen, a silver safe, a couple of carcass pieces in the dining room and its ivy-patterned chintz curtains.
Nineteenth century English porcelain lamp employing seemingly every decorative effect available, seventeenth century English alabaster carving of Christ in the Tomb, Ming Shipwreck porcelain box and cover and a Sibyl Colefax bud vase designed by John Fowler.
The sitting room was recently recently repainted in Wet Sand from Farrow and Ball, the large oil painting – a nocturne – is nineteenth century French, the sofas are covered in vintage Bennison & Liberty fabrics, cushions are from Sibyl Colefax or antique textiles. ‘My friend Emma Burns of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler painted her hall in the same colour .,,, I rang her asking for a picture, and she said: “Just do it, you won’t regret it”. She was totally right!’ says Benedict.
‘Hang things where you see them, and not just in the middle of a wall. If you have a big wall and only one picture, it’s better to put it near a lamp, for instance, where the picture will be well lit, and add more to the wall later. Don’t leave a lonely picture marooned far out in a sea of plaster.’ – A.Prin Art
Green Regency japanned tray on a stand, sourced by Foley & Prin
Qajar tiles, a legless statue of Byron, Squiggle shades from Sibyl Colefax, and a two-tier vase. The worst copies of the Marly horses ever produced, sometime in the 30s. Victorian blue trumpet vases in the form of trumpet mushrooms…
Eighteenth century Scottish chairs, a tablecloth of Colefax’s Seaweed fabric, a nineteenth century Italian sanctuary lamp, a sixteenth century Maltese Madonna, and vintage chintz curtains that were already in situ here
‘People have come in here and told us how they’d demolish all the walls and make it open plan, but that isn’t what we took the house for! We took it for its little rooms. We both quite like the idea of finding a story in a place and going with the story. We like it being in Essex! ‘ – A.Prin Art
A George III linen press refashioned as a drinks cabinet that was also in the cottage, now filled with an assortment of well-used glasses
Georgian, Baccarat, Whitefriars, 70s Czech, Garage Sundae glasses
Majolica of various periods, with a variety of Wedgwood models, the hideous Putto centrepiece probably Capodimonte, the small Fo dogs are provincial Ming. The wall lights were a job lot from a pub installed sometime in the 70s and welded to the wall by river damp – Benedict Foley
Frame as pinboard, one of the new ‘readymades’ from A.Prin Art
brick floor : ‘I’ve been reading more about cottagecore. Very funny! Did’nt realise we lived in a social media trend.’ Benedict Foley
‘The larder, which really stole the show when viewing the house, many shelves asking to be filled, and duly so with a magpie collection of ceramics and glass…
recently augmented by some excellent finds at last years online Interiors Boot. Two Wedgwood pie dishes and a teapot! ‘ – Benedict Foley
Overwintering cuttings, and constantly peeling paint, which gets stuck back on when it’s reaching total disassociation with the wall. The plates are a broken-beyond-use extraction from a very large set found in a house in Scotland, half of the remaining useful plates also reside in Essex, the other half in Tangier
Lunch preparations – Jerusalem artichokes
Barely fitted kitchen, the small cabinets are Victorian – modernised with white paint and lucite handles in the 1960s
Swan butter pat mould
‘A perennial favourite – Cookery in Colour, hardly any of it printed in colour and most of the recipes involving quantities of leaf gelatine used to contort food into novelty shapes. Glorious post war optimism!’ – Benedict Foley
Upstairs – spine corridor
A.Prin art – a collection of ready-made wooden frames, produced and hand painted in the UK
Nineteenth century patchwork made into a bedspread in the 1920s with the addition of the stripe fabric and then re-crafted into curtains
Almost everything at Pink Cottage was inherited or bought from auctions or junk shops or has been given to them second hand. Crammed with its fine and outsized furniture, it reminds Daniel of the last home of a dowager who has decanted from a great house into a little one. ‘It’s my big thing, trying to reignite the idea of antiques in interiors,’ he says, ‘the layers make it interesting.’
Looking glass formerly at Hasley Court and belonging to Nancy Lancaster
Colefax archive chintzes on a chair from the philanthropist and art patron Drue Heinz’s house in Hays Mews, Mayfair – originally supplied by John Fowler to Joan Dennis
The Mill and the Stour, their local view painted by John Nash in 1962
The hamlet edge where mill house and cottage stand either side the narrow lane seems to belong to a lost world. There are cows over one hedge, an abundant kitchen garden behind the other and the millstream rushing ever onwards, a lively landscape, bucolic and beautiful. ‘I love it here,’ says Daniel,
Many many thanks to Benedict Foley and Daniel Slowik.
All photographs copyright bibleofbritishtaste. Many captions supplied by Benedict Foley. Excerpts may be used as long as clear links are supplied back to the original authors and content.
A.Prin art – for Benedict Foley’s collection of ready-made wooden frames, produced and hand painted in the UK
Read Benedict Foley on framing pictures for Inigo Home here
Read Benedict Foley on colour for Farrow and Ball here
Read Daniel Slowik’s story for the bibleofbritishtaste here