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In the Picture with Tess Newall

In the Picture with Tess Newall

How did your career progress from set design and film to art and interiors?

My career began in film, making props and painting sets. I love the theatricality involved in creating a scene. My husband Alfred Newall is a furniture maker, and his interior design clients began asking me to paint pieces of furniture and murals for them. My commission list quickly grew, and I preferred it to film in that the pieces were to be used and loved for years to come. So it was a very organic progression and one I feel very lucky for.



You are so talented at turning plain furniture into a work of art, do you have any tips on upcycling furniture?

Old pieces can so easily be upcycled rather than replaced. The prep work is key, sanding and priming before adding any paint. I use water-based eggshell paints for woodwork, which don't need any extra protection. Gather some references and just have a go!



As well as painting furniture you also do some amazing bespoke murals, have you got any favourites/highlights?

I recently painted a canopy of wild roses across the vaulted ceiling of a timber-framed bedroom. It felt like entering a secret garden room; I always try to create an atmosphere and a feeling with my work.



Who are your main design influences?

I adore the work of Russian avant-garde artist Natalia Goncharova. She grew up in the Russian countryside, where traditional folk arts and crafts influenced her style. Her career began as a textile designer, and she went on to design incredibly theatrical costumes and sets for the Ballets Russes, and later, interior design. I'm inspired by artists whose work crosses boundaries between mediums. I love the concept of bringing art into domestic spaces through functional objects. The Omega Workshops' belief was that people should be surrounded by beautiful, well-made things - they made candleticks, book covers, fabrics and furniture - bringing a joyful, playful sensibility to the everyday.  I think that's an inspiring principle to live by!


What would be your dream commission?

A Scandinavian cabin in the woods on the edge of a lake perhaps - my designs are often inspired by the spaces they inhabit, and I think that would be pretty inspiring!

We are loving your new wallpaper collection. Do you have any plans to create fabrics or any other products? (Sorry, you're probably busy enough right now!)

Yes! Fabric is in the pipeline. I would love to see my prints used on curtains and bed canopies. Watch this space!


Huge thanks to Tess for taking the time to chat with us! You can follow her on Instagram here. 


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