At the weekend I braved public transport (complete with obligatory grumpy bus driver) and seemingly gale force winds, to catch Donna Wilson’s show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I have been an enthusiast of Donna’s cheeky, woolly creatures and ceramics-with-personality for some time; I am the proud owner of a pair of her Bird Nest Egg Cups that regularly grace my breakfast table, improving the mornings at Casa Lizzie by approximately 80%. Result: I was giddy with delight when I heard her show was coming to town…
At YSP, a hub for art, located in the Yorkshire countryside, Donna’s work winds it’s way through the main building, up the stairs, along the corridor and into a gallery space. Plates with forlorn faces, watercolour paintings of big eyed girls and prints of bears wearing jumpers adorn the walls, while chunky knitted arrows guide visitors around the displays. Donna has created her own fantastical world here, where all the inhabitants are curious, cute and thoroughly inviting.
The main event is in the gallery space, where long, exotic plants and crazy forest creatures hang from the ceiling and ‘grow’ from chunky woven rugs in a magical, woolly wonderland. The colour palette and patterns are kaleidoscopic – it’s nature gone bonkers (in a good way). I like to imagine this is what happens in the woods when we’re not looking and the animals reveal their true identities, or like a scene from The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – only quite a bit cooler.
I had bought my boyfriend along, hoping to inspire him with gift ideas for my impending 18th. Okay, 21st… Okay, 30th. And we were spoilt for choice in the shop. Knitted clouds hang from the ceiling, looking much cheerier than the ones outside; and the shelves are filled with more of Donna’s products, including the hilarious swan scarf, adorable lambswool creatures and soft baby blankets like your granny knitted, only better (sorry Granny.)
Committed to utilising traditional craftsmanship wherever possible, Donna buys her natural yarns from a 200 year old company in the Yorkshire dales, and some of her toys are produced by a small family run business on the Scottish borders. Donna prefers the handmade aesthetic, and without it she feels her toys would lose their ‘charm, identity and oddness’; for her, it’s ‘the more peculiar the better.’
Her love of the unique, combined with entrepreneurial spirit and creativity in abundance, wins Donna Wilson the Jackie Magpie seal of approval- keep on doing what you’re doing Donna!
By the time you read this, Donna’s show at YSP will have ended- however Donna has an ever-growing list of stockists throughout the UK, Europe and the US and you can buy online here. Check out her gorgeous Easter eggs for Rococo.