Home from home in a former Hadleigh chapel
PUBLISHED: 11:29 26 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:16 20 February 2013
Artist Stuart Morris's home has undergone a dramatic conversion, from methodist chapel to brightly-coloured, light-filled, modern living and working space.
You could make an amusing short film of globe-trotting artist and screenprinter Stuart Morris pursuing his great love of collecting artefacts for his Suffolk home.
Stuart is a compulsive collector with an eye for the exotic and has collected, among other things, African masks, wood carvings from Java, and figures and artwork from Bali and Lake Titicaca in Peru.
Its easy to imagine him popping into a sidestreet shop in some far flung part of the world then emerging a few minutes later clutching some unwieldy item of interest.
Once I was bringing home a Greek statue through an airport when I was stopped and questioned. They thought it was a bomb, he says.
A man of such eclectic taste should have a home to match and Stuarts base in Hadleigh (he has another house in Shottisham) is a former Methodist chapel which doubles up as a workspace and living quarters.
Even on a dull spring day its a bright, airy place. I love the atmopshere here, theres a good karma about it. When I first came here there were pews and a pulpit, says Stuart as he moves around tabletops strewn with his photographs, cuttings and nearly finished designs. The latter bring great splashes of colour to a large room painted a calming white while classical music is playing gently in the background.
All is peaceful but this space has, in the past, been a shopfloor heaving with activity as Stuart and a small team put together orders for printed textiles bearing inventive designs. In the run up to Christmas we have worked crazy hours here, he says.
Now that production has moved to bigger premises at a studio in nearby Crockatt Road, Stuart, who is managing director of his self-named textile printing company, can entertain clients at the chapel, or dream up new ideas without distractions.
From the chapels main hall you move into a rear utility room, where Stuart keeps some screenprints plus washing machines and driers, while in a little sideroom there is a spare bedroom, occasionally used by Stuarts daughter Lucy who also works for the company.
Outside there is a little paved walkway with plants which looks enchanting at night.
Go upstairs and there is an extra L-shaped gallery area constructed to house Stuarts artwork which ranges from large canvasses to totem poles of various sizes. I tend to do those for exhibitions, one is just going off to Dubai, he explains.
I collect pieces from all over the world and sometimes here in Britain. There are some tribal masks from a shop in Edinburgh, furniture from Liberties of London and fabric from a shop in Brighton. But its travelling that inspires me, gives me ideas.
A fomer art and design student at Leeds University, Stuart loves bringing his artistic skills to the great outdoors. He paints on to rocks and tree bark with chalk pastels or poster colours in locations as diverse as Greece, the Seychelles and the Orkneys. I love the brightness and vibrancy of the colours you find in places like South America and Africa but I love the wild landscapes of Scotland too.
Inevitably there are more bright colours in Stuarts tiny bedroom, dinky little bathroom and kitchen/living room where smart chrome units are in one corner then bright sofas and cushions in another. Again the pale walls and roof windows allow light to flood in.
He has a large, flat television on one wall to watch his beloved cricket. Stuart explains: I follow all types of cricket, and my son Charles was a good schoolboy batsman. I also play a lot of tennis. Im very competitive and am a member of a Woodbridge league. I also play golf and enjoy horse-riding, skiing and sailing, and when Im not involved in those hobbies Im immersed in my painting.
The job of running a successful textiles company must also take up a lot of his time?
Yes, it does. Our clients include English Heritage, Historic Scotland, The National Trust, museums, galleries and various retail, promotional and corporate gift companies. Our emphasis is on strong innovative design and quality.
Products include souvenir textiles, eco bags, printed leisurewear and designer silk scarves. Our tea towel products continue to be great fundraisers. We are the home of the school tea towel! he says.
The latter may have sprung from helping a local primary school with a fundraising effort involving childrens artwork being turned into tea towels but Stuart cant remember. Its all rather snowballed from that and with over 5,000 school customers both home and abroad we are established as the UKs leader in school fundraising, explains Stuart.
But our ethos is not to make as much money as we can, rather to do a good job in a respectful working environment. Thats very important to us.