When we took over the running of Rigg House B&B just over two years ago, one of the things I was most looking forward to was doing up the guest suites and bringing in loads of lovely artwork. In our previous life in Manchester we had a wonderful shop, Chorlton Art Market & Autumn’s Vintage Boutique so it was exciting to finally have a reason to actually buy some of the stock for ourselves. I knew that by having a few things which connected to our ‘old lives’ then it would always be a nice reminder of how far we had come.
This is the first in a series of posts which will focus on the artwork we have selected for each of our guest suites, beginning with The Darwin Suite. We are incredibly proud of all the rooms in the B&B so we thought it was time to show them off here! In terms of artwork, The Darwin is perhaps my favourite of the five suites and is the one which contains the most pieces from our old shop. This lovely double suite is set in it’s own ‘wing’ of the house and has the bedroom and bathroom separated by a small area which we refer to as a ‘reading alcove’.
The reading alcove is decorated with insect-themed art work and furnishings, all of which came from either Chorlton Art Market or from Etsy.com.
Keeping with the animal kingdom, the bedroom is themed with birds. We found the beautiful wallpaper from Laura Ashley which should have been £25 a roll but I got it in the January sales for £3. Which made me happy. There was a matching lampshade for £50 which wasn’t on sale…but then I found a near-identical one in The Range for £5.99. Which again made me quite happy.
The artwork for this room is a mixture of charity shop finds, framed cross stitch panels, fabric scraps, postcards and pages from old books.
The bathroom for the Darwin Suite is a beautiful, bright room, not least because of the bright yellow shade it is painted in. This room has a bee theme, which, considering the amount of bee-themed artwork we obviously sold in Manchester, was always going to be inevitable. All the bee prints in this room were from Chorlton Art Market.
For me, the image of the bee is slightly bittersweet. After the terrorist attack in 2017, Manchester almost immediately ‘re-adopted’ the image of the worker bee – which had been a symbol of the city since the Industrial Revolution – within days beautiful bee murals sprung up everywhere and it seemed like half the city’s population got a bee tattoo. I really struggled with my conscience during this time because although we sold plenty of bee artwork before the attack, suddenly we were selling hundreds of pound’s worth of bee prints every day and I couldn’t shake off the feeling that we were profiting from an horrific tragedy. Of course we, and most of our traders, donated some of the profits to the Love Manchester Fund but it didn’t stop me wishing that there wasn’t a reason for people to be wanting to buy so much bee-themed art.
But thankfully all this didn’t stop me from still liking the image of the bee and appreciating the work of the artists so it does feel nice to have this room with its strong links to our past. Every time I go into the Darwin bathroom I am always reminded of those years at the shop; I think of my ragged fingernails from re-framed prints every day; I think of our traders and our regular customers and all the ‘characters’ which we dealt with. And it makes me feel very thankful to be now running a B&B!
(Timourous Beasties wallpaper sample – one day we’ll actually buy a whole roll of this beautiful design).