ELEVEN SIX WOMEN | GEMMA BAILEY
Photos courtsey of Jonathan Bailey | @bailey.works
Gemma wears Sara Cardi in Colbalt Blue styled with her own skirt.
I had the honor of collaborating with the talented, British artist: Gemma Bailey to create the Bailey Sweater inspired by her artwork: Georgia" as part of our Fall 23 collection. I was captivated by her striking, abstract, botanicals and use of bold, opulent, brights often grounded on a black background. Gemma is based in Beacon, NY where we had a chance to talk: transition from being an Fashion Accessories Designer into a full-time artist, what inspires her work, as well as how she channels her creativity alongside her husband and daughter. Gemma is photographed at home wearing her Fall knitwear favorites. We also featured her adorable daughter wearing a few of our soon-to-launch ELEVEN SIX Kids sweaters & the collab Bailey sweater for some wearable art!
Gemma wears Marisa Sweater in Mineral Pink styled with her own jeans
Can you share your background and how your career path in the fashion accessory design transitioned into you becoming an artist full-time?
I originally studied fine art after high school but then decided instead to focus on fashion design. I was always torn between the two but felt that the fashion industry would be a more financially secure route. I did my BA in Accessories and Footwear design at the London College of Fashion. It was a really focused course with connections to the industry so I began my career designing leather goods and jewelry for a number of fashion brands in London and Europe quickly after graduating. Then I moved to New York to further my career. I really loved it and do miss aspects of it, I got to work and travel all over the world. However, I think anyone who has worked in the corporate fashion industry understands how easy it can be to get burned out! I'm a sensitive soul , so recognized my need to take a break from the city grind. I had always painted in my spare time but wanted to devote myself to it and see where it could take me. I became a little obsessed with it and jumped at the opportunity to do something with only myself as the sole judge of my work.
How would you describe your work and what inspires your work?
My work draws significant inspiriation from Biophilia and the natural worlds healing properties. I love that plants and energetic beings and try to gather their energy into my work, mostly through the compositions. Sometimes they can be quite chaotic and your eye wanders everywhere or completely still. Perfection and symmetry doesn't naturally occur in nature so my work isn't super refined. There is always an obvious hand drawn feel. For now there is endless inspiriation for me in nature and much to still explore.
Gemma wears Becca Cardi in Taffy Pink in front of an artwork in process
Your husband is a creative in many realms - do you channel creatively together for your painting process?
Our creative pursuits often lead to healthy disagreements lets say. haha! He is a creative director and works in the fashion industry too. He has an amazing eye for photography and also makes music/Dj's. During the initial stages of my process I feel the need to be completely alone. Towards the conclusion of something I do really value his perspective. He has often guided me when it's time to step away from a piece or when I find myself channeling my creative energy in an unproductive direction but refused to see it.
You are a Mama to a little girl, how do you manage the juggle between keeping the creative process going and jumping back into parenting?
It is a real challenge sometimes. My daughters preschool schedule sets the rhythm of my day, its a limited window of time. It can be frustrating but its also a powerful motivator to just get on with it and be productive, I have no time to waste. Now she's older , she likes to paint alongside me. If I'm in the latter stages of the painting where its mostly figured out thats ok but if I'm problem solving or planning thats not so easy! I go between my studio and the dining room table so that I can work at night too. Above all else I try to just be present for her the best I can.
Gemma wears Uma Stripe Poncho + Harper wears Marisa Kids Sweater (coming soon!)
How has moving Upstate to the Hudson Valley from the city transformed you and your family's lives?
Our move to Beacon,has been transformative. We've found a strong sense of community and easy access to beautiful hiking and farms. The shift has brought more balance and ease to our lives. We're gradually improving our home, creating a space we can hopefully live and work eventually.
What are your favorite ways to unwind and switch off when you are not working?
I definitely need to get outside and move and go for mammoth walks and hikes to process my thoughts. Spending time with friends and family too. I really love cooking for people. Definitely one of my love languages! Painting is a very solitary process and I am naturally social, so definitely need the interaction with others too to switch off.
Gemma wears Becca Cardi in Camel back to her own dungaree's
Harper wears the Taylor Kids Cardi (coming soon!)
What is a series/movie/book you just read or watched that you loved?
I have been seeking a lot of self discovery these last few years and have been on a complicated health journey. I love the healing arts and have been reading two books most recently, The Emotion Code by Dr Bradley Nelson about releasing trapped emotions or trauma with magnets and muscle testing. It's a treatment anyone can learn. Also Human Design by Ra Uru Hu. It's a system based on your exact time, date and place of birth and gives you an energetic blueprint. It's an interesting tool to learn about yourself and others.
Do you have anything exciting in the pipeline you can share?Yes! I've been connecting interior design with my work, which has been amazing ! I have a couple of commercial murals I'm working on in the city and a residential. In an addition to that I am also enrolled on the Turps Correspondence painting course. It's a year long mentorship program based in London. I think it's going to be transformative to my practice.
Gemma working on a recent mural panel...wearing the Marisa Sweater in Mineral pink
What does the ELEVEN SIX brand mean to you, which are your favorite pieces and why?Because I have a personal connection to you, I see how much care and love is put into the brand. I like to pay attention to how and where things are made. It represents a commitment to craftsmanship and ethical production. I also try to wear natural materials as much as possible. I love the
Sara Cardiganand want one in every color! It's very easy to wear. I mostly wear it with high wasted jeans in the daytime. The
Bailey sweaterI will keep forever as a memento and is a very special piece and such an honor to have my painting made into a collaboration piece.