MR Studio London
Hello there. The weather here is grey, damp and bleh. I'm still not feeling the festive vibes either although this weekend I am heading out to Katie's wreath making workshop, decorating the house with some greenery and watching Elf, so maybe the Christmas spirit will kick in a little more. I'll share more on these later.
Today I am delighted to show you the work of MR Studio, run by Mike and Rika in London. I first stumbled upon their work on Instagram and just fell in love with it immediately. Their spectacular pressed flowers pieces, little details of their studio space and home as well as the adventures of the legend that is Chicken the cat, makes their feed one of my absolute favourites. A little voice in my head regularly goes 'how did they do that?' as my experiences of working with pressed flowers never turns out that well! I've asked them a few questions about their work and how they find inspiration.
Tell me a little about yourselves?
MR Studio London is an artist/maker duo formed of Mike Pollard and Rika Yamasaki. We have always been artists and makers and our work came about through a sharing and balance of both our interests. Mike is very interested in natural materials and processes and Rika loves documenting and creating work connected to nature. Working with pressed flowers and foliage was an ideal way to develop a practice that meant something to both of us and hopefully other people too.
We make a series of artworks and cards using real pressed flowers, either as natural 'arrangements' or as bespoke writing commissions. We also create designs based on our pressed flowers to make digital/riso/lino prints as well as developing an ongoing photography series based on our interactions with our local and natural environment.
Where do you work from?
We design and make all our work from our little home/studio in East London. All the pressed flowers we pick are either from our little garden or the surrounding area. We are very lucky to live so close to Epping Forest with such diverse and seasonal varieties to the natural environment in the nearby forestland. It can however be just as satisfying to find flowers and foliage growing out of somewhere unexpected like cracks in a wall or behind a gas meter box to turn into something beautiful, valued and reflective - so we try to keep our eyes open every time we go for a walk. This sense of making something to be loved that would otherwise be overlooked or thrown away is something that means a lot to us and as an idea features throughout our work.
Of course it is invaluable to be able to have our work checked and signed-off back at home by our little kitty helper Chicken (#mrstudiochicken)!
Where do you find inspiration?
The accessibility of the process of pressing flowers was something quite important to us. It's something that anyone can do at home with a few books, ideally some blotting paper, and enough time to let things dry. (We created a tutorial for this on our website). For us the beauty is that flower pressing is quite domestic and connects you to the immediate environment around your home.
The more we work with pressed flowers now the more inspiring it becomes to watch the seasons change and to document a passing of time around our home. I think it's this connection to nature and our surroundings, especially living in a big city, that has become the most inspiring part of our work.
What are your favourite plants and flowers to work with?
Our work is a little bit dictated by the seasons given the timing and availability of different flowers and foliage. Its part of our enjoyment exploring the change in landscape throughout the year and getting to know the different characters that appear each year.
It's hard to pick a specific favourite plant or flower as each one is so different and in a way its just getting to know the intricacies of a plant that make them fun to work with. Having said that we have had a fondness for Cow Parsley since we started, its something we've worked with quite a lot and has become something of an old friend :)
Where do you sell your products?
All our work is shown on our website with a soon to be shop page to buy directly from us. Otherwise our work is available to buy online via Etsy or through a number of stockists which are listed on our website. Most of the work we create though comes from people just getting in touch and commissioning us to create something special and very personal.
What's been your highlight for 2016?
One of the highlights for us was having the opportunity to put together an exhibition of work at one of our favourite shops Botany. It was really valuable to see how well both our practices merge as a collection, how our work is received and to show it in a place that means so much to us. Botany has been very supportive of our work and it is always inspiring to be able to spend time there and be surrounded by so many beautiful things.
Something else we enjoyed this year was creating a commissioned piece where we were asked to make a series of initialed place cards/artworks with pressed flowers for a fashion event. We kept to a muted colour theme and it was really satisfying to have made such a large collection of works that seemed to tie in so well to the event.
What's next for the studio?
We'd really like to pursue and develop our Fine Art interests to sit as part of the work we do as MR Studio London. Developing a recent photography series has been really inspiring to properly engage and think about the work we make and the reasons we do what we do. I'd love for this instilled sense of reflection and consideration to have a more prominent place alongside our more crafty leanings:)
A huge thank you to Mike and Rika for taking the time to answer my questions! I can't wait to see what these guys produce in 2017 and I'll absolutely be trying their flower pressing technique in the summer.
Top two images by me - I treated myself to one of their cards for a little frame I had. I think these would be a really nice gift for someone this Christmas too. All other images used with kind permission by MR Studio and taken from their Instagram feed.