Amelia’s Magazine | Soma celebrates 10 Years: an interview with founder Fiona Hamilton

Soma Gallery - 10th anniversary prints

Like Amelia’s Magazine, the fabulous Bristol based Soma Gallery launched in 2004. Founder Fiona Hamilton was a big supporter and stocked Amelia’s Magazine in print from the very outset. Since then we have kept in touch and Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration visited Soma Gallery on tour back in 2011. I caught up with Fiona to talk about ten years of working with emerging and established artists. Read on for more and to view all ten of the wonderful prints featured in the 10th anniversary celebration show and box set.

Soma Gallery - spencer wilson
Print by Spencer Wilson, available here.

How did Soma begin, and how has it changed over the years? Can you give us a short potted history…
Soma started way back in June 2004 and opened with an exhibition by Anthony Burrill, Jon Burgerman, Richard May, Container and Dettmer Otto. The original idea was to exhibit work by a mixture of illustrators and graphic designers alongside ceramics, jewellery and textiles. In that respect, things haven’t changed all that much in the last 10 years! We started off in a small single room space in Clifton Arcade and in 2010 moved to a much larger space on two floors over the road. We are now able to have larger exhibitions in a separate gallery space and we’ve also been able to hold events like book signings and a Tatty Devine jewellery making workshop in this space. We’re currently in the process of installing a small print workshop in a small room at the back of the shop.

Soma Gallery - peskimo
Print by Peskimo, available here.

Soma Gallery - Graham Carter
Print by Graham Carter, available here.

How did you pick the artists who have contributed to your 10th anniversary collection of limited edition prints?
It was very hard to choose just 10 artists. Some of the artists we have chosen have worked with Soma since the early days including Adam Bridgland and Lucy Gough who both exhibited in our second exhibition in 2004 and have continued working with us. Alice Pattullo is one of our newest artists and joined us before Christmas last year. Hazel Nicholls joined us for Pick Me Up graphic art fair in 2013 and has continued to work with us ever since. Andy Smith, Peskimo, Gemma Correll and Crispin Finn have also exhibited with us at Pick Me Up as well as many solo and group exhibitions in our gallery. Graham Carter and Spencer Wilson are both original founding Peepshow (illustration collective) members and have been with us for a long time!

Soma Gallery - gemma correll
Print by Gemma Correll, available here.

Out of the 10th anniversary collection can you recommend your top tip: for a child’s room? for a new boyfriend? and for a mother in law?
The perfect print for a child’s room would be either Peskimo’s ‘Flying Saucers’ (which glows in the dark!) or Spencer Wilson’s ‘Bring the Noise’. For a new boyfriend, Crispin Finn’s ‘Double High 5’ or perhaps Graham Carter’s ‘Oh James!’. A good mother in law print would be HelloMarine’s ‘Jungle’ print.

Soma Gallery - crispin finn
Print by Crispin Finn, available here.

Which other artists are amongst your favourites at the moment?
Tom Frost and Nicholas John Frith are other artists I would have loved to have been part of the 10. Both were unfortunately too busy to take part, Tom was working towards his solo show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park which opened just after the prints were launched. There will be other projects in the future, I’m sure!

Soma Gallery - hellomarine
Print by HelloMarine, available here.

Soma Gallery - hazel nicholls
Print by Hazel Nicholls, available here.

What are the biggest trends (that you have spotted) in prints in 2014?
We don’t tend to follow trends here at Soma, but something I have noticed is that tropical plants, birds of paradise and very bright colours are very much on trend. One thing about not being led by trends too much is that we hope people will treasure our prints for years to come and so for that reason don’t want anything that might date too quickly. Bright colours are definitely something we fully embrace at Soma though!

Soma Gallery - andy smith
Print by Andy Smith, available here.

Which artists should we look out for in the coming years?
I think it’s worth keeping an eye on Alice Pattullo and Hazel Nicholls. And maybe the next young artist who joins us!

Soma Gallery - Alice Pattulo
Print by Alice Pattullo, available here.

What do you love most about producing prints and selling specialist designer goods?
One of the nicest things is working directly with the artists and building good relationships with them. We work with a great bunch and it’s a pleasure selling their prints and goods.

Soma Gallery - adam bridgeland and lucy gough
Print by Adam Bridgeland and Lucy Gough, available here.

What have been the high points and low points of the past ten years?
There have been some great high points. The most memorable are moving to the larger space in 2010 and exhibiting in Pick Me Up for the first time in 2012. Andy Smith’s solo exhibition, ‘Sunny Side Up’ in 2011 was a huge success. Our 10th anniversary print project and event was also quite a high! The low points are thankfully few, but the long hours and how hard you have to work as a small creative business can feel quite thankless at times. But in the end it’s all worth it!

Each print is 30 x 40cm to fit in a standard size frame. They are available as singles at £30 each or as a boxed set of all 10 at £275. All prints are printed on GF Smith Colorplan or Mohawk Superfine.

Categories ,10 Years, ,10th Anniversary, ,Adam Bridgland, ,Alice Pattullo, ,Andy Smith, ,Anthony Burrill, ,Bristo, ,Clifton Arcade, ,Container, ,Crispin Finn, ,Dettmer Otto, ,Fiona Hamilton, ,GF Smith Colorplan, ,Graham Carter, ,Hazel Nicholls, ,HelloMarine, ,Jon Burgerman, ,Lucy Gough, ,Mohawk Superfine, ,Nicholas John Frith, ,Peepshow, ,Peskimo, ,Pick Me Up, ,Richard May, ,Soma Gallery, ,Spencer Wilson, ,Tatty Devine, ,Tom Frost

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Amelia’s Magazine | The ACOFI Book Tour visits Soma Gallery in Bristol

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011

Soma Gallery has been a faithful stockist of Amelia’s Magazine since the early days of its print version, generic so I’ve had a long and lovely relationship with gallery owner Fiona Hamilton:

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Fiona Hamilton

Fiona started up Soma Gallery in 2005 as a place to show up and coming artists, and thanks to her good eye she picked up on the likes of Rob Ryan, Anthony Burrill and Gemma Correll early on in their careers.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011

Soma Gallery used to be housed in a tiny space inside the Clifton Arcade but last year Fiona moved into a bigger shop across the road and it was in the upstairs gallery that we held the ACOFI Book Tour gathering just over a week ago.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 LahlooACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lahloo Tea

When I arrived (last minute, slightly flustered, again. must learn to manage time better) Kate Gover from Lahloo Tea already had the kettle on. She was joined by Vicky and Stu, who were both excellent people to have helping out. Kate came to the tea trade via restaurant retail, but it was a slightly strange career path to choose because she hates normal builders’ tea.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Kate and Fiona
Kate Gover shows Fiona some of the tea.

Due to her inquisitive nature she decided to find a tea that she did enjoy drinking and spent many years developing her palette by training with some of the best tea masters – through them she met with the small scale producers who now supply her with the very best quality teas from their estates. Lahloo Teas can be bought in Chandos Deli and Arch House Deli in Bristol, as well as in fine food stores across the UK. I particularly love Kate’s dedication to the way her teas are presented – she has developed some lovely flyers to promote the tea, her logo features a great fat red heart, and larger quantities come presented in a wooden box. Each tin is decorated with an old shipping map that was inspired by the travels of a famous clipper that her great grandfather sailed on, after which the tea brand is named. Clearly she is a lady for whom attention to detail is important and it certainly pays off with her fragrant teas. Choose from such delights as Amber Oolong Tea, grown on a misty mountain in Taiwan or Guricha Green Loose Tea from China.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Hart's BakeryACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Hart's Bakery iced ginger heartsACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Hart's Bakery iced bicycle biscuits

Lahloo Tea is the perfect accompaniment to a very good hand made biscuit… and on the table were three expertly packed boxes of the most stupendously gorgeous biscuits from Hart’s Bakery: as promised Laura had hand made heart shaped custard creams, iced gingerbread hearts and the cutest hand iced shortbread bicycles. Honestly, I am flabbergasted at pâtissière Laura’s skills – she’s trained with the best of them and it shows. Good folks of Bristol, if you want to try something really special then you should visit her in her shop in Hampton Lane for some artisan delights, where you can also try rhubarb and almond danish, eccles cakes alongside savoury delicacies such as olive and rosemary bread and filled croissants. It really doesn’t get better than this. I am jealous of you Bristol folks.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Juiceology
ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Juiceology
Of course we once more had a little help from Juiceology drinks and Dr.Hauschka goodies, much appreciated by everyone who attended, thankyou!

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex Glover
At my Bristol leg of the tour I was lucky enough to be joined by two of the illustrators who are featured in ACOFI – Bex Glover of Severn Studios, whose work just keeps getting better and better. She’s just done a mural for a cafe in Harrods and she is currently featured in several other magazines including The Mighty Pencil – combining two of her favourite things: fashion illustration and animals.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex GloverACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex GloverACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex Glover
She has also been doing tutorials for the likes of Digital Artist Magazine, so you can catch up with some of her techniques there. I’m sure you’ll be seeing much more of Bex’ unique style.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Bex Glover Hart's Bakery
Bex Glover with a Hart’s Bakery bicycle biscuit.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Katie Harnett Lahloo Tea
Katie checks out the Lahloo tea – she’s a big tea fan! Hence her moniker Teabelle!

Katie Harnett is just coming to the end of her degree at UWE, so she’s been very busy putting that together – I look forward to seeing the show in July when it comes to London!

Jasper Conran A/W 2011 by Katie Harnett
Jasper Conran A/W 2011 by Katie Harnett. She has also been experimenting with some new techniques and animal drawings.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Katie Harnett
She came along with an old school friend and fellow UWE student Lilly Allen, but sadly no one else from UWE came along. I put it down to the frantic time of year…

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Kat and Rog of Howkowpow
It was a pleasure to meet Kat and Rog of Howkapow, who stock a delicious range of goodies on their website. Kat is a girl after my own heart – a lover of bright colours and patterns with an 80s flavour. All good things I say! She was wearing an eye-catching Gonzalo Cutrina Extinct necklace from her website. It’s a mere £55 – what a bargain:

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Gonzalo Cutrina Extinct necklace Howkapow
The Howkapow website invests in new and unknown designers and they plan to open an agency to fully support them alongside. Why not find out more about what they are up to on the Howkapow blog?

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Ben Newman
It was lovely to finally meet illustrator Ben Newman, who illustrated for two issues of Amelia’s Magazine back at the start of what has become a very successful career. What a lovely smiley chap he is!

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lauren Neko, Bonina Silvestre and Charlotte Pain
Lauren Neko, Bonina Silvestre and Charlotte Pain.

It was also nice to meet the fabulously named Bonina Silvestre and her friend Charlotte Pain, both studying art. Lauren Neko sings and reads dreams. Impressed!

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lesley Barnes badgesACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lesley Barnes dancing bear tote
There are countless good reasons to visit Soma Gallery, either at Fiona’s space in Bristol, or online from anywhere in the world: Soma Gallery stocks Lesley Barnes prints, and also Lesley Barnes dancing bear badges… and tote bags.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Fiona Hamilton badgesACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Fiona Hamilton badges
Fiona has an old specialist printer with which she makes these adorable badges: I couldn’t resist buying a metallic pair of brightly coloured rodents. Also stocked at Comma Shop.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Tom Frost
Soma stocks a wide range of one off and limited edition art, including this lovely screenprinted wooden piece from Tom Frost.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Donna Wilson creaturesACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Donna Wilson creatures and Lisa Jones cushion
Donna Wilson animals are in abundant supply, as are Lisa Jones prints, cushions (above) mugs and cards:

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Roger La Borde cards
And of course Soma also does a roaring trade with my new Roger La Borde range. Yay! Make sure you visit Soma Gallery soon.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Ben Newman
Ben Newman reads my Anthology of Illustration.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lauren Neko
Lauren Neko.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Lilly Allen
Lilly Allen.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Rog, Fiona, Kat
Rog, Fiona and Kat.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011 Stephanie Weise
Stephanie Weise.

ACOFI book tour Soma Gallery 2011
I sat on the floor to give my talk, it was all very informal!
You can read Fiona Hamilton’s marvellous account of the night here.

Don’t forget that I have one more date on my ACOFI Book Tour – if you live in London please do join me at Tatty Devine, Brick Lane, on Tuesday 7th May. I’ll be talking from 7.30pm and there will also be the opportunity to learn how to make iced biscuits with Biscuiteers! Read about my first tour date a few weeks back at Tatty Devine, Covent Garden. Lovely stuff. Join the facebook for the event here.

Categories ,ACOFI, ,Amber Oolong Tea, ,Anthony Burrill, ,Arch House Deli, ,Ben Newman, ,Bex Glover, ,Biscuiteers, ,Bonina Silvestre, ,Book Tour, ,Chandos Deli, ,Charlotte Pain, ,Clifton Arcade, ,Clipper, ,Comma Shop, ,Digital Artist Magazine, ,Dr.Hauschka, ,Dreaming with Neko, ,Extinct necklace, ,Fiona Hamilton, ,Gemma Correll, ,Gonzalo Cutrina, ,Guri-Cha Green Loose Tea, ,Guricha Green Loose Tea, ,Hart’s Bakery, ,Howkapow, ,Jasper Conran, ,Juiceology, ,Kat and Rog, ,Kate Gover, ,Katie Harnett, ,Lahloo Tea, ,Laura Hart, ,Lauren Neko, ,Lesley Barnes, ,Lilly Allen, ,Lisa Jones, ,pâtissière, ,rob ryan, ,Roger La Borde, ,Severn Studios, ,Soma Gallery, ,Tatty Devine, ,teabelle, ,The Mighty Pencil, ,Tom Frost, ,UWE

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