Louise Kirby is a Dundee based designer who creates bespoke print designs that capture a sense of place. Her work has a positive playful feel which is created by contrasting patterns and meaningful references to place, nature and culture.
Louise designs prints for products that have a range of applications. From decorative pieces to functional wayfinding installations within public spaces, her work enhances the everyday, and makes the world a little brighter.
We are welcoming people back to Meadow Mill for our WASPS Open Studios on the 6th and 7th August from 12 noon – 5pm. This gives the public a real insight into how the different artists and designer work here in Dundee. All the spaces are so different from colourful busy spaces, quirky spaces, practical workshops to calm retreats. I love seeing pots of brushes, messy palettes, rows of tools!
Exhibition on the 4th Floor with a range of artworks to give a flavour of the creativity in the building. And coffee and pastries from EH9 just next to my studio with a drawing table to sit and be creative!
This year I’m looking forward to seeing the studios of new tenants who have moved in over the last few years!
Studios I’m looking forward to seeing:
Cara Rooney and her award winning illustrations, I love how she captures a childlike curiosity in her work. Kate Harvey with her colourful fashion textiles. The very dramatic landscape paintings from Ellis O’Connor. The hive of activity from the fabulous Dundee Ceramics Workshop with demonstrations and raffle. And in contrast we have artists who have been creating for many years, such as Maggie Milne who graduated over 40 years ago from DJCAD.
Organised Colourful Chaos
My studio will be organised colourful chaos, with a range of things I’ve been working on from: models, design sheets, test pieces, bespoke artworks plus I will have my full range of Dundee Delights greetings cards, tea towels, magnets including some new card designs and all the one-off prints that I’ve not had a chance to put on my online shop yet!
I’ve been really enjoying developing some larger scale watercolour collages. I started creating these during lockdown inspired by the river Tay. I really enjoy the balance and rhythms of colours and playing with composition to get them to work together.
I am also looking to clear some older works so big discounts on things too, if you’ve ever had your eye on anything – the time is now! Plus I will be doing a wee special offer with 2 tea towels for £20 (£12.50 each).
Local creative businesses are joining in too from the 1st floor – Whimsical Lush with her quirky illustrations, Kerrie Aldo and her cool handmade outerwear, Susan Doyle with amazing aprons 1874 WORKS , Maggie Duncan with Made At The Mill and vintage clothing from Nicely Eclectic and many more…..
Lift access and free parking available (ask for a ticket when you arrive on the door).
Please share this event to support lots of local creatives so we can let as many people know about our hub of creativity that we have here in our city.
I hope you enjoy your visit and come away feeling inspired!
Thanks to Jen and Kenny from Brodies Timber for inviting me to collaborate on this piece. I loved adding a pop of colour and a local story to the piece of vintage furniture and they restored it and french polished the drawers.
This design is inspired by my summers
as a child picking berries at my uncle Willie McIntyre’s fields in Essendy near
Memories of colourful berry baskets
tied round my waist with string, popping red raspberries which were hanging
from the bushes and hiding under the leaves, delicious juicy berries bursting
with flavour and the stripes of the dreels up field.
In this bespoke hand painted piece,
I’ve tried to capture a sense of place of my happy memories of picking berries,
by playfully contrasting patterns and using meaningful references.
I enjoyed re–naming the colour to:
Sun bleached baskets
It was great to be in the space and I loved the workshop with all the tools on display and so much lovely wood around with all the warm colours and patterns in the grains.
It was great to work alongside Suzanne Scott from Whimsical Lush who was also painting a vintage piece. You can see me painting another piece of wood that will be used in modern furniture. Looking forward to seeing what they turn it into.
I’ve loved painting the shutter art designs on 3 businesses on Albert Street in Stobswell Dundee. All designs are inspired by highlighting the positives in the area.
It’s been a joyful experience with lots of banter from locals giving me positive encouragement ‘what you up to?’ and me replying I’m bringing a bit of colour and pattern to the area to brighten it up!
Here’s a flavour of what folk have said over the weeks I was painting: “You’re doing a braw job of this, it’s keeping you busy, it’s so cheerful “, “Amazing what a difference it makes”, “That’s smart”, “You must have good patience, it’s lovely!”, “Radical Colours”, “He’s fascinated with your swans”, “Are you painting the whole street?”, “I hope you’re getting paid for this, it’s lovely and making a real difference”, And to top it off ‘Eh Ken you’
Colour is really important to me and I believe it can change how a place feels, which in turn can change how people feel. I want the people of Stobswell to feel positive and uplifted. For these designs I used the same vibrant colour palette from the Pocket Parks I designed in 2021 on Craigie St and Eliza Street.
The Albert Bar
The Albert Bar design is filled with colourful patterns, shapes and colours taken from the local area, such as the row of 7 arches inspired by the arches of the windows of the Baxter Park Pavilion, zig zags from the public art sculpture on Princess Street and geometrics from the brickwork gable end on Craigie Street.
Initially I was only to be painting one shutter but I extended the design onto 2 other shutters to look like the squares were falling off like an old school video game and bouncing in the shape of a zig zag to echo the detail. I think having all 3 together gives a stronger impact and the zig zag directs your eye to the main shutter. Great to hear The Albert Bar or should I say L’lbert is planning on upgrading their frontage and fixing their sign now that they have shutter art!
The Property Shop
The Property Shop design is inspired by the Swannie Ponds featuring rows of swans, leaves and rippling water to create stripes of colourful patterns. This design idea developed further as I was painting as I wanted it to be more engaging to the children that walked and wheeled past as the bottom section is at a good eye level for them. I added 2 larger scale swans and some boats to give a nod to the Dundee Model Boat Club. It was nice to hear “He’s fascinated with your swans” as a lady and wee boy passed daily.
The Lucky House bold circular design is full of decorative details on the inside and outside and I think the clashing red and pink just sing together. I was keen to include red as it represents happiness, beauty, success, and good fortune in China.
Can you spot where the patterns come from?
Ornamental details from the Baxter Park railings and the ironwork on the rooftop of Morgan Academy, zig zags from the public art sculpture. Some of these elements are also seen in my colourful crossing on Eliza Street. (you can read more about it here)
While painting the Lucky House shutter a local said ‘That’s not an oriental design’ and I explained the meaning of the patterns which started the conversation and hearing the history about how the Morgan Academy railings were removed in the 2nd world war to be used for bullets. You learn something new everyday!
I wanted each design to look unique but also to work as a series. I think they make a stronger impact being positioned quite close together, just imagine if they went all the way up Albert Street!
This commission was part of an open call from Sustran Scotland who are encouraging walking and wheeling in the area. We approached business owners with possible designs to find out if they were interested. I created sketches and shared for feedback, then agreed suitable times I could paint that didn’t interfere with their opening hours. I got all layered up in my painting clothes. The designs were painted by hand and I used some stencils and I created the circle shape using the lofi method of a bit of string and chalk. Thanks to all the help from Stobswell Forum and Dundee City Council Community Officer to encourage businesses to take part.
We had a Celebration Day to showcase the shutter art where myself and artist Gordy Crawford did tours talking about our inspiration and process. This event was in partnership with the Stobswell Form, Sustrans Scotland, Dundee City Council, where fun chalk activities were happening on Craigie Street and info about the future regeneration plans.
I really hope that the shutters bring joy to the people of the area who use it. Let me know what you think or how they make you feel!
This project was funded by Sustrans Scotland, Pocket Places programme where local communities shape their neighbourhood and take a lead in making their local area a better place to walk, wheel, cycle – and live.
I was delighted to be commissioned by the DCA
to create an exciting, vibrant window design that celebrates all the activity,
energy and sense of community found across all the programme areas of DCA. Bringing the inside activity and energy to
the outside of the building in the window areas.
The process involved research, development,
prototyping and good communication with the DCA team and fabricator to creating
the final designs on display.
I got a feel for the building by visiting all the different departments, taking lots of photos that I could refer to in the studio.
I found lots of geometric shapes within the building from the angular windows, step shaped walls, winged gallery roof plus so many circles, from the vintage projectors, printing press wheels, pegboard, retail display units, circular fairy lights fittings in Jute Café Bar to products in the shop.
I am naturally drawn to seeing pattern and texture and loved the overlaid wire racks in the print studio that created modern checks and the negative space of the screen-printing racks full of irregular stripes.
I found colour references from the bright cinema seats, pots of ink in the print studio, participant artwork on display in the creative learning store, bright colours of the Riso print samples to the more subtle cladding of the building.
To process ideas, I created sketches in pencil and ink then found visual connections. I created rough thumbnail sketches of designs in situ and mocked them up digitally to test various colour combinations and played with different juxtaposition of textures within shapes. I played with rotation and scale of the spots to capture the energy from the activity from inside of the building. I referred to the brief, discussed technical details with the local fabricator RobertSign and worked within design constraints so that the design would work practically. I selected and rejected elements to create coherent concepts for presenting to the DCA team.
The final designs are inspired from the bold geometric shapes with a playful feel using my signature style that retain the hand drawn feel of my linework and confidently uses a vibrant colour palette with clashing and contrasting of patterns bringing together all the activity of the building. I wanted the circles in the top windows to have a lot of movement the capture the energy of the building and connect to the shop windows below.
With my design work I like to capture a sense of place by creating bespoke designs that are meaningful and unique to the space and I hope these designs help people to connect to the DCA and remind past visitors to come inside and entice new visitors to see the variety of things it has to offer, from a trip to the cinema to taking part in a workshop to grabbing a bite to eat with friends or seeing the latest contemporary art exhibition.
Bringing joy to the streets of Stobswell in Dundee!
I worked with the UNESCO City of Design Dundee on the Spaces For People project to help realise the community’s idea of reclaiming two small sections of road at Eliza Street and Craigie Street to create people focused, friendly spaces full of colour and greenery as a temporary intervention funded by Sustrans Scotland.
I loved being part of the process from start to completion. Beginning with workshops run by the Service Design Academy using a co-design process, which gave a real insight into what the people who use and live in the area want and need, plus their issues and aspirations. The co-design process gave everyone a level playing field and participants were encouraged to gather user research to bring back a wider voice, they be imaginative on developing ideas. These ideas formed the design brief I worked on.
Research + Development
My role was to create a visual identity inspired by the feedback from the Service Design workshops to combat the greyness of the area, by brightening it up with more colour.
Stobswell is an area I know well from living there and attending Morgan Academy. I wanted to take a fresh look and went on a research mission with my camera to find shapes, colours and imagery linking into the initial conversations in the workshops about the jewels of Stobswell. I had interesting conversation with Friends of Baxter Park finding out about the plants and wildflowers and was shown the Cotoneaster tree which is the largest of its kind. Stobswell has many interesting pieces of public art so I watched Matthew Jarron’s video tours which gave me a good insight.
I found lots of circles and this later features in the seating and planter design.
From there I created print and pattern ideas in sketches, collage and digital art. I looked at many ways of applying colour to the area from trails, signage, gable ends, shop windows, shelters, awnings, seating/planters and through ground art. Not all ideas could go forward. (some pictures of things that didn’t go forward)
Concepts were shared for feedback. Ideas were refined and adapted to suit users. I defined colour palettes and did lots of maths to work out scale and repeat patterns.
I created 3D prototypes to help plan how the artwork would look in situ and placed designs in street plans to help visualise how the ground graphics would look.
Jewels of Stobswell
I think it’s important to capture a sense of place to find out what’s meaningful and unique about the area. It was identified Stobswell has a real mix of jewels – from historic details, green spaces, public art and tree lined streets. (I have a big long list of specific places that people love). I wanted to have a strong visual identity that worked in the Stobswell area using the same colour palette but felt there needed to be distinction between the 2 pocket parks of each individual site.
Eliza Street – Grand and Ornamental
The Eliza Street is an eclectic mix of imagery inspired by the jewels of Stobswell: details of the decorative ironwork on Morgan Academy rooftop, Baxter park railings, zig zags from the public art down on Princess Street, some leaves from Baxter Park and I managed to slip in a stripe or two!
The entrance from Albert Street was marked with a colourful crossing. To give it a homely feel I coordinated and clashed patterns on the seating and planters which complimented the range of surfaces of the birch, concrete and planting.
Craigie Street – Geometric and Playful
Craigie Street’s visual references came from the decorative brickwork gable end on the street, mixed with circular berries inspired from the Cotoneaster tree in Baxter Park. Colour and pattern were added to the seating and planters plus the circular ground graphics. Designs were initially developed to give a visual clue to physical distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
By adding the ground graphics it gave an opportunity to have more colour and pattern into the space, plus is gave it a more playful feel.
Teamwork is dreamwork
I was only one part of this project. I loved being part of a core team with architectural designer Fíona Canavan who was a whizz on the technical side of maps, plans and research. UNESCO City of Design Dundee team, Annie Marrs and Poppy Jarrett who lead on the project and trusted my ability. Old School Fabrications who created the modular seating and planters and did all the logistics and practical element of the install.
So many people helped make this happen, from Angie who used her magic to convert files to be print ready, plus the team of local painters who brought the vision of colour and pattern to life.
Working with Tayside Contracts to add the colourful crossing and circle graphics along with Jamie from Geveko Marking. So many conversations were had to make this work from accessibility groups, Stobswell Form, Dundee City Council Transport and Planning team, Boomerang Project, Fire Brigade to name a few.
I met with local artist Gordy Craw who was working on painting shopfronts in Stobswell. We decided to use the same colour palette to give a stronger identity to the area. I added window decals with zig zags on The Stobbie Chipper and cotoneaster leaves and berries to the Boomerang Cafe. I love how Gordy’s artwork and my designs clash and bring a richer Stobswell pattern.
There were lots of ideas and not everything could be taken forward in this project as it is temporary. There is still work to be done in the area and Sustrans are working with the community to create permanent interventions. You can find out more about what they are doing here.
What’s it all about for me
For me this project encompases what I love doing: bringing joy through colour and pattern, creating meaningful artwork that captures a sense of place, connecting people to places and improving the world we live in.
It’s been great to see people using the space from stopping for a chat, sitting stroking the friendly cats, enjoying sunshine and eating lunch from the local takeaways.
Thanks for reading, you can find out more about projects I’ve worked on here.
This 2.5 meter tall lighthouse was great to paint!
My design Shimmering Shoal was inspired by shoals of shimmering mackerel swimming amongst the stripes of the Scottish Sea. I love that each silvery shimmering mackerel has beautiful distinctive tiger like patterns. I have them swimming together round the lighthouse. In my work I love to capture a sense of place and retain the hand painted quality of wonky lines and subtle mark making to give added texture and movement in my work.
My lighthouse is part of Light the North in the north east, Moray, Shetland and Orkney raising money for Clan Cancer Support. Big thanks to Anderson Anderson Brown LLP for selecting my design. If you spot Shimmering Shoal in the Rose Garden (Cathedral Walk), Seaton Park in Aberdeen, please tag me in on social media or send me a photo by email firstname.lastname@example.org Here are some work in progress photos
I love taking part in the Wild In Art trails as they allow me to use my skills of applying colour and pattern to 3d shapes. They raise money for charities and the trails themselves are great at encouraging people to get out and about and explore the area.
I popped up to Aberdeen to see it in person on a lovey sunny day and I’m delighted on the beautiful location of Seaton Park, it’s located in the Rose Garden on Cathedral walk. If you’ve got kids there is a great playpark next to it and a wee snack van.
You can check out my other Wild in Art Sculptures on my website along with other examples of my work here.
You can check out all about the Light the North trail here with maps to download or theres an app to download to see where they are all postitioned.
I loved painting this lush and leafy design onto a plain elephant, it was a great shape to paint on. I built up layers of greens, turquoise and olives to create depth and the feeling of a tropical rainforest. I then added hibiscus and ditzy flowers with tropical leaves in an allover pattern. And of course a striped trunk and tail! I named it Lush + Leafy, I was inspired by elephants of the tropical jungle of Borneo, camouflaged in the luscious tropical patterns.
Work in progress video
Work in progress video
My elephant is part of The Big Trunk Trail in Luton raising money for Keech Hospice Care. Big thanks to the sponsor HBD Places. If you are in Luton you will spot Lush + Leafy in The Moor Park, please tag me in on social media or send me a photo! email@example.com Here are some work in progress photos
The elephant sculpture was massive and wasn’t going to fit into my studio on the 4th floor at Wasps studios. I’m super grateful for the kindness of Derek from Circle Signs offering me space in his workshop to paint!
Thanks to the Sandra Webster for escorting my elephant to Luton with her colourful elephant also on the trail.
Finished painted elephant – Lush + Leafy
I love taking part in the Wild In Art trails as they allow me to use my skills of applying colour and pattern to objects and surfaces. They raise money for charities and the trails themselves are great at encouraging people to get out and about and explore the area.
I loved painting these 2 bespoke murals in a cool kitchen.
Process involve, a chat with the lovely couple about what they wanted, we talked about their favourite things, love of vintage style and what they liked about my signature style. This helped me form the brief and created a couple of sketches of ideas that they chose from (options to have changes but loved what I created.) From there we picked dates to suit, and defined the vintage colour palette. Then I painting all the layers of colour and pattern, which was joyful. (See me in action)
I’m grateful they were brave to ask me and trusted I would create something they’d love! They wanted 2 murals, one next to the alcove and a homely one next to the wood burning stove, they look good individually and also connect through colour and imagery so work together in the room.
I think they turned out well, what do you think? Can you imagine a mural in your home or office? I love taking people’s ideas and creating bespoke designs.
I was asked by composer Jerry Randalls to collaborate with him to create some visual to go with his new Laxmi composition.
I created a series of abstract compositions called Counterpoint in response to repeatedly listening to the Laxmi composition. I used gestural marks and movement with the brushes to create colourful textural marks in watercolour. The individual pieces were sliced and re-composed to create new compositions of juxtaposing colour and pattern. Colours were inspired by the Laxmi Hindu goddess.
If you are interested in any of the pieces for your home or office, please email firstname.lastname@example.org They are all one off watercolour collages ranging from £30 – £45.
Jerry writes “Laxmi (also known as Lakshmi) – for Flute trio, jazz trio and cello
I have fused a jazzy arpeggiated melodic pattern with a 17th century harmonic progression which suggests more than a nod to J S Bach, but is also, as it happens, a staple of the jazz world. The piece concludes with a brief blues break which merges into a classic Baroque final cadence.
Louise has a striking and wholly individual style which resonates with the renaissance of her home town of Dundee as a leading citadel of contemporary creative arts. Her work is always confident, fresh and dynamic – and echoes techniques and principles which also guide my composition technique: line, patterns and sequences, energetic rhythms, tone colour, momentum and structure. I love how she has taken the idea of counterpoint – melody against melody – and applies it to visual art. I couldn’t have imagined a more spectacular exhibition to accompany my music. “
New dementia-friendly art and design projects at three Perthshire
sheltered housing units have been created to help residents find their way
around the complexes while adding new positive character.
Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust (THAT) in partnership with
Perth & Kinross Council has commissioned these creative art and design
solutions at the Carpenter Court and Strathmore Street sheltered housing units
in Perth and at James Court in Pitlochry
Developed using dementia-friendly principles, the artworks
and enhanced design will help make navigation around the buildings easier for
THAT commissioned designer Louise Kirby to hold consultation
workshops with staff and tenants looking at themes and colours that residents responded
well too. Louise then devised different plans, each appropriate to the
individual sites. The concept was to use imagery that was based around the
changing seasons and nature, and reflected the established colour coding system
for each floor of the Carpenter Court and Strathmore Street. Within the third
unit at James Court Pitlochry these designs reflected tenants’ and staffs’ love
of the local animals and landscape and provided positive images that brighten
up the corridor.
Louise said: “I
loved the challenge of using my design skills to improve how tenants find their
way around and across these sheltered housing units. The buildings are very
different in size and layout and so required different solutions, but the
principle is the same. The design elements link and flow with the established colour
coding to provide positive visual markers for people. This has been a great opportunity
to see how my design can help people living in these complexes.”
Perth & Kinross
Council’s Housing and Communities Convener, Councillor Bob Brawn, added: “These
are lovely images and we have been
getting a lot of positive comments about them from both tenants and visitors,
who are really enjoying the colour they’ve brought to the complexes. They are a
great addition to all the units and our tenants and staff are really pleased
with the outcome.”
THAT promotes the
therapeutic value of the arts based programmes to enhance environments, quality
of life, and promote social inclusion by empowering individuals to make an
important contribution to their health and wellbeing.
For more information about the THAT project, please contact Karine Neill Development Officer THAT on 01382 835509 or if you would like to chat to Louise Kirby about enhancing your space contact email@example.com