At Home with… Elvis Robertson
We spent the day with Ceramicist, Elvis Robertson. We’ve long been fans of her unique ceramic pieces inspired by nature. Elvis’ home in rural Dorset reflects all elements of her eclectic style. With findings from her walks in nature dotted across her walls, from sticks to flowers that have now dried, making her home a living mood board for inspiration. The way she captures her work is art in itself. You can see that Elvis enjoys the process of photographing each piece almost as much as she does making it. So it’s no doubt her Instagram feed is somewhat drool-worthy.
Elvis studied at St Martins, then working in advertising and design. Eventually finding herself with a growing textile business. After developing complications from swine flu, she wasn’t able to manage the growing workload. ‘I thought I’d make smaller textile pieces, so began making ceramics as props for them. To my surprise and eternal delight, the ceramics took off and I was faced with the task of learning on the job’. And so she quickly grew an unexpected business. Many of her original clients from her textile career now collect her ceramics, along with fashion designers, stylists, chefs, prop houses and all manner of people who love handmade. Elvis is 51 years old and lives in a 17thcentury cobb cottage in rural Dorset with her 13 year old daughter Tallulah and their accident-prone cat, Granville.
How do you start your mornings and ease your way into the day?
My day starts around 6.15am, I check the news, drink decaf black coffee, feed Granville and check on the garden and birds (in warmer seasons). Once Tallulah’s at school, invariably I go for a quick walk in nature. I’ll wear boiler suits, boots, scarves. I often gather natural treasure along the way – my home is very full of twigs.
I meet up with friends for a morning coffee, chewing the cud and giggles. I can find too much socialising quite tiring, so morning coffee is easier than parties and bars. Followed by a short 20 minute yoga practice, to keep myself moving and healing. I change outfit again to whatever takes my fancy… I often wear cream and white. I love vintage and Japanese clothes, for modern clothes I often buy from Cos and am currently dreaming of a white jumpsuit from Monica Cordera.
How have you adjusted to the lockdown and the current situation?
I’m used to being home, quietly doing my thing, which feels like a privilege just now, particularly as I have friends in the NHS. My health condition means I isolated early and like most people, have had moments of anxiety, particularly as my issues stem from swine flu. A slow, ongoing recovery from that has taught me enormous gratitude, which I feel every day. Work wise, I feel good. I’ve beautiful connections with other makers and people I’ve collaborated with, so I watch talented people supporting each other right now, which makes me happy – I choose to look for positives at such a difficult time.
What does a typical day involve?
I don’t have a set routine, but I tend to do errands in the mornings, giving me a long, uninterrupted afternoon and evening to focus. Sometimes I’m up at 5am to excitedly get the kiln open… it’s always a thrill to open the kiln. I like to work in the kitchen and use the house as a giant mood board. I stick pictures everywhere and make odd shapes as glaze samples, which I hang on the walls alongside foliage, photos, glittery pasta necklaces, jewellery. The atmosphere of my home feeds into my work, so work and personal life flow comfortably in and out of each other. I’ll burn incense, listen to music, podcasts or audio books. Lunch is usually homemade soup or a quick salad.
Photography is a fun part of what I do. I know what time the light will hit certain spots in the house, then I pop pieces there and wait, contorting myself to get the right angle. The light moves fast, so I click away on my iPhone and upload straight to Instagram. I don’t use filters, I simply shoot and post, showing my work as honestly and simply as possible. Instagram is a big part of my business and another thing I had to learn on the hoof. I can find it incredibly time-consuming, so I tend to post in the evenings, then reply a day or so later so I can do it in one swoop. I take regular breaks from it and don’t post daily or indeed too heavily.
What advice would you give aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Even if you’re not outwardly confident, believe in yourself and be your own best friend. So, whatever you’d tell your best friend, if you’d support them and encourage them, do it for yourself too. Particularly when things go wrong, because the real world definitely isn’t perfect, so believing in yourself is important. It has to work for you, whether it’s juggling around children or all-consuming and huge – you’re the one steering. And trust your gut, you know what you do better than anyone else.
Homeware shops and market recommendations?
Current favourite monthly market is in Frome in Somerset
All time favourite clothes shop is Egg on Kinnerton St, London
Homewares are almost always vintage and antique for me, but Igigi in Hove is quite lovely
Favourite market find?
If I had to choose just one… a life-sized plaster cows head from Portobello Market. It’s barely got any horns left as it has moved with me so many times, but it’s like an old friend and I love it.
Your last adventure and your next?
Last adventure was cove hopping in southern Cyprus. I love sea swimming and sunshine in October gives me a boost to get through the winter. I like to spend summers paddle boarding, being on beaches and sitting in fields of corn. I hope this year we’ll still be doing all that, but more locally due to cv19. As travel may be limited for a while… we have a piece of derelict land that’s wild and totally out of control. I’d like to get that sorted and do something with it. Beyond that though, southern Italy is calling.
Current favourite song, book and film?
Currently reading – Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West
Film – rather than film, I have to choose the TV series Unorthodox on Netflix – so good.
Any inspiring Instagram accounts for us to follow?
Instagram is one of my favourite places and I’m always grateful for the inspiration, support and community on there. I could list so many, but a sensible(ish) selection would be; @pottershousemallorca, @monicacorderaofficial, @monogiraud, @emma_louise_sophia, @thefuturekept and @joannamaclennanphotography and @plumesandfeathers, who included me in their wonderfully inspiring interiors book The Foraged Home.
How do you maintain work/life balance whilst running your own business?
I don’t give myself a hard time about work/life balance. Working from home is definitely challenging and work is demanding, particularly in the lead-up to Christmas, closely followed by wedding season, but it also gives me great flexibility to always be around for my daughter. I work mostly around her timings and have the luxury of being able to work whilst I’m in front of a roaring log fire in winter, or in the garden in summer. If I work till 10pm in front of the TV… it’s not a terrible hardship!
How do you wind down at the end of the day?
I love meeting friends for endless hazy beach days that drift into evening bbq’s – sunshine, families, healthy food and laughter. I’m also happy to sit in front of the log burner with incense or the diffuser on, a glass of wine, a big thick snugly blanket and cuddles in front of the TV, reading or board games suit me just fine.