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Birdie Fortescue Collaboration

Updated: May 21, 2020

I was sitting in a friend's garden in Bath last summer where I was staying for the weekend (such different times!), when I first talked to Birdie about working on a collaboration. Over the months the plan evolved, with a lot of discussion between us and much experimentation with new forms and glazes, to get the collection right - a true mix of both our distinctive styles. I finally delivered the finished pieces to Birdie in a London hospital car park (don't ask!) earlier this year.

To mark the launch of the new collection this week, I had the pleasure of virtually interviewing Birdie, and here is what I discovered about her and her eponymous business.

What was the career path that led you to where you are now?

Working as an interior designer for 8 years, being surrounded by and purchasing beautiful antiques for clients, lead me to a career in antique dealing. After 15 years of exhibiting at antiques fairs in London and abroad I decided to open an antiques shop. The property I fell in love with in North Norfolk was too large for just antiques and in 2014 I opened our shop combining homeware and antiques.

Your collections are eclectic but distinctive. How do you achieve this?

By staying true to my own taste and style and not being swayed by fashion.

You live and work in Norfolk. How has this influenced your work?

We are so lucky to live in North Norfolk with its breathtaking coastline and countryside which is an inspiration in itself. There is a fantastic creative community here and a growing art scene which is very exciting.

Where else do you get your inspiration from?

I am always inspired by my travels - visiting different countries where architecture, textiles, ceramics, colours throw up a wealth of ideas.

You source pieces from around the world, as well as locally. How do you discover your makers?

It’s usually by word of mouth, establishing contacts and spending time researching the makers to ensure there is a mutual understanding from the outset. There are some excellent trade fairs both abroad and in the UK which prove to be an ideal way to meet new suppliers.

Our collaboration has evolved over the months into a blend of both our styles. Is this how you usually work?

Yes - I instantly loved your work when I first saw it - the delicacy, subtle tones, glazes and quirky shapes. It is fabulous to be able to create a collection which brings together both of our aesthetics.

How has your business had to adapt in these uncertain times?

We have a fantastic team and have pulled together to work out a plan so that we can keep going. Our hard work establishing a strong online presence has really paid off so we have been able to close our showroom and keep our website running as normal. We have a large warehouse so are able to make sure that our packing team are well spaced out and safe.

Do you have a favourite mantra or quotation that keeps you going when times are tough?

I often think of Ad Meliora when things are difficult which is Latin for towards better things.

What Instagram accounts do you particularly enjoy following?

I love discovering new makers and artists through Instagram and obviously follow wonderful designers such as Robert Kime, Sibyl Colefax, Todhunter Earle, Daniel Slowik and Beata Heuman.

What book are you reading at the moment?

I have just finished ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini which was a deeply moving story told over thirty years of Afghan history.

Joanna Ling's collection for Birdie will be for sale on line from Thursday 14 May 2020

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