Kristin Perers is a freelance photographer. Raised in Florida, she moved to the UK 30 years ago to continue her work as a fashion designer. She later became a stylist before her career segued into photography. She lives with her husband, William Taylor, in East London. Each month she leaves the city and retreats to Trinity Cottage in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
Here, we talk to Kristin about the everyday rhythms she observes whilst at the cottage, and how they inform and inspire her creative work. The conversation is accompanied by a short film by Kristin that documents a season at the cottage. The soundtrack is by the musician, Laura James.
What brought you to Trinity Cottage?
William’s parents built a house in nearby Thorpeness in 1969, so this is where he spent his summers. After we married, William and I began spending more time here. I really took to the area because, oddly, the landscape reminded me so much of where I grew up in Florida, between the river and the sea.
We bought Trinity Cottage together in 2014. For me, the sale of my great-grandfather’s farms in Indiana made this purchase possible. I see it as Indiana farmland repurposed into another family homestead and – whilst we are not growing wheat – the space is fertile ground from which our family and friends can find nourishment.
How have you made this cottage your own?
We were drawn to the proportions and the simplicity of the space, which we have opened up completely on the ground floor. We’ve created a double-sided fireplace that all activity seems to revolve around. We've also opened up two blind windows, which has really brightened up the space. The original wattle and daub walls had been badly damaged by flood water, so these were rebuilt and freshly plastered. Once the plaster was in place, I couldn’t think of anything better to do with the walls, so we have left them bare.
It is such a simple, easy space to be in and we have deliberately left it quite empty. There are hooks throughout and everything hangs from these: my scarves, my hat, my bags, my art projects. The hooks allow the space to become anything you want it to be. Each person who comes here can make it their own.
How do you spend your time here?
I like to be here every season, so I try and come once a month and I often come alone which supports deep, unbroken contemplation. My days are punctuated by walks: morning, sunset and last thing at night.
Thoreau wrote that an early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. For me, an early morning walk is a necessary meditation. Also, being able to watch the sunrise over the sea, and set over the river in the evening is an experience I grew up with in Florida. Even though I’m looking out over the North Sea, not the Atlantic, that daily rhythm connects me to my past.
Lately, I have been using these walks to explore my long-held fascination with colour.
Where does that fascination stem from?
Landscape painting has always been a keen interest of mine – an immersion and an escape and something I’ve always done outside of my profession. Yet finding the time, space and uninterrupted focus required while balancing young children and a freelance career began
to prove elusive, so I started painting landscapes as I paced my daily walk – in secret, in my head. Mixing hues in my mind’s eye. Here, alone at the cottage, I have finally found the time to pick up my paint again ...
What does ‘colour foraging’ entail?
I collect trinkets on my walks: pebbles, bracken, grasses and teasels. At home, they become references that I transcribe and dissect in paint. A row of five shades become a walk upon my wall. A season – even a day on paper. I painted the autumn in Suffolk this way – a week’s journey into the ochres and the oranges, the muddy browns and the smoky purples. My rambles become a sort of stalking of colour – a search for the source – the shades that will tell all – a meditation on landscape, tone and hue.
What is the outcome of these daily explorations?
I keep telling myself that the end product is not the point, it’s the process – the walking, the putting on my coat and boots and gloves, the going out and the coming in, the dusk and dawn. It is a rhythm, a pacing of the day that gives shape to my time alone here. The art – this coloured deck of cards – is the byproduct – almost footprints of these journeys.
Kristin was talking to Nell Card.
Images and Film by Kristin Perers. Music for this film was composed by singer-songwriter Laura James.
For more information, see Trinity Cottage on Instagram.
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