New Artist at Wonky Wheel - Holly Parr & Jonathan Harvey-Thomas

Holly and I began working on some collaborative projects back in January 2020, to bring some unique workshops to Wonky Wheel. I went to Holly’s lovely studio set in the grounds of Hylands House amongst several different artists and designers. It was such a treat to spend time away from the gallery and learn a new skill. Hopefully at some stage we may be able to bring these exciting plans that were created in January to you sometime in the future.



In the meantime, we have these beautiful pieces which are all unique and handcrafted by two incredibly talented Artists. These stunning textiles paintings are a collaboration between Jonathan Harvey-Thomas (embroidery) and Holly Parr (French Beading)


Each piece is an original piece of work created during Lockdown of 2020 as means of escaping into nature and getting away from life.


In preparation of there arrival into the gallery I sat down with Holly and Jonathan to discuss all thins arty …

Q: Why do you make this type of Art?

A:

Holly Parr:

I first fell in love with French Beading when I was researching flowers for our wedding six years ago. What started out as a hobby has since turned into a passion and my now one year old creative business. For me my art is an escape. French beading is a very mindful, therapeutic process. It is impossible to do quickly, I love that I have to slow down when I create.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

I stumbled upon machine embroidery and loved it. I love the rough textures it gives and the boldness of the colours.

Q: What does your artwork represent?

A:

Holly Parr:

I am a mum of two wonderful, energetic boys. I love them dearly but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my art represents an escape for me. A time that is solely mine where I can study and design.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

I like to represent the things I see in my surroundings.

What inspires you?

A:

Holly Parr:

Nature. The natural world is always changing, developing, reviving itself and defying our belief. Nature is comforting and encouraging. I love how beautiful it is, even when it is decaying. You see new life develop and grow from the passing of a season. The last days of summer can be very saddening for many, but when you look at the summer blooms wilting to reveal lush autumn shades you can’t help but be renewed and revived.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

I have always been inspired by nature.

Q: How do you make it?

A:

Holly Parr:

French Beading is a 19th century art form that has gone through waves of popularity. Believed to have originated in both Italy and France the craft was predominantly favoured by women in order to earn a little money of their own and to decorate their homes. There was even a time when French beading patterns were accessible in popular literature and magazines. In the Victorian era French Beading became associated with the passing of a loved one as many memorials were created using the technique. French beading is beginning to become popular once again. With beads of just about every colour available it is possible to create stunning flowers, even when they are out of season.

I research each natural bloom I replicate before designing the flower I have selected. With flowers having such a powerful impact on us, creating memories, improving our mental health and sending messages it is really important that my designs are as accurate as possible and that they capture the splendour of the blooms being replicated. Through stringing thousands of 2mm glass seed beads onto fine craft wire, with a combination of twists and wraps, the designs created become exquisite forever flowers to treasure.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

I sketch out my design onto the fabric and then place into an embroidery hoop. I then build up my layers with tones of coloured thread. Followed by hand stitching fine detail. Once that’s done I add my illustrative style by drawing into my images with black thread.

What do you love most about being an artist?

A:

Holly Parr:

Trying to help people feel better. I hope that through my work, and workshops, I have a positive impact on those experiencing it.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

I love immersing myself in my own thoughts and creativity. When I’m making art it’s just me and my machine. I can express myself in whatever way I want.

Q: How long have you been Artist?

A:

Holly Parr:

I would only consider myself to be a practising artist for a year now. Although I have been beading for six years in total. I have always been in a creative profession however as I spent 11 years in the theatrical costume industry and trained as a professional ballerina.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

As a young boy I was always making things and drawing. It was the one thing I loved and the only thing I was good at. Through school I was inspired by my art teacher which inspired me to pursue a career in Art. For the last 5 years I’ve found the time to make my own art for pleasure.

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

A:

Holly Parr:

Have more faith in your abilities. This is something I still struggle to do today but by watching and encouraging my children grow and learn I am trying to do the same.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

Your best is always good enough, do what you love, be who you want to be and follow your dreams.

Q: Did you always want to be an artist?

A:

Holly Parr:

I always knew I would work in the arts. From a young age I enjoyed art, sewing, music and dancing. I took each of these subject at GCSE. I was accepted to Central School of Ballet in London at the age of 16 so continued my A-levels and degree there. Following graduation I went into theatrical costume. Toured nationally and internationally alongside working across London and the West End. Met my husband, with the boys following closely behind. It was when our youngest started walking that we knew that continuing my career in live theatre wasn’t possible any more. Being unable to sit still for long I knew I needed another creative outlet and so I took the decision to focus on my art once again. If I hadn’t gone to ballet school I would have elected to go to art school. Creativity flows through each of us…I have always needed to express my creativity.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

Yes, I did my GCSE and A-levels in art as it was always my passion. I then went to art college where I specialised in graphics and 3D. Following this I gained a degree in interior architecture and then did a post graduate in education to become an art teacher. I have balanced my love for teaching and making my own art alongside each other. Each inspiring the other.

Q: Are there any little tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years, that would help or inspire budding artists?

A:

Holly Parr:

Goodness, I am definitely still learning. I think one of the biggest things I’ve learnt is to always be kind, grateful and keep pushing doors.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

Quality over quantity. Particularly when it comes to buying threads. Machine feet are so important – it’s worth spending a bit more to get the correct ones.

Q: Tell us about your workspace – what do you like about it?

A:

Holly Parr:

I am very luck that I am part of a fabulous collective of artists based on the Hyland’s Estate in Chelmsford. My studio is located in the stables and is one of the Hylands Estate Artist studios. My studio is warm and bright. The Estate have beautiful grounds and pleasure gardens which are hugely inspiring. My favourite part definitely is the people though. I love catching up with creative, likeminded individuals.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

We live in a small terrace house so we don’t have the luxury of a work space so I tend to take over the dining table. I love that the room is full of natural light. Maybe one day I’ll have my own studio.

Q: Do you listen to music when you’re creating?

A:

Holly Parr:

Yes and no, sometimes I just like the quiet. Life is so loud these days, sometimes it is nice to disconnect.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

Yes! I love upbeat music it puts me in a positive mind-set. Muse is my muse.

Q: How important are titles to your Artwork and who usually comes up with the name?

A:

Holly Parr:

I am very lucky that my individual stems are already named, with special thanks to the natural world. I like to name pieces, which often takes a lot of thought.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

I think the titles give a snippet into the thoughts of the artist. I never come up with an idea of a title before, they always come after.

Q: What do you personally find the most challenging thing about being an artist?

A:

Holly Parr:

At present I have found juggling time the hardest part as 2020 has thrown us all into the unknown. I think on the whole I struggle the most with being too sensitive and taking things too personally.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

I find art is subjective so it’s hard pitching your pieces to the right audience. I also find it isn’t always appreciated and people don’t want to pay the worth of the piece

Q: What’s the highlight of your career so far, or your proudest moment?

A:

Holly Parr:

Beaded Blooms has just turned 1 year old (11th September), my artist’s career is still in the very early stages. I think gaining a studio of my own, delivering my first commission and being invited to exhibit in the Wonky Wheel have been career highlights so far.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

My proudest moment was having my own exhibition in Chelmsford Museum. Dream come true!

Q: Do you have any excusing plans for 2021 that you would like to share with us?

A:

Holly Parr:

I’m hopeful I might restart workshops in 2021 but for the time being I am just taking things one day at a time.

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

None, lol.

Q: How would you describe your artwork to someone sitting across the dinner table that had never seen your artwork before?

A:

Holly Parr:

I design and create exquisite bespoke flowers you can treasure forever.

Jonanthan Harvey-Thomas:

Textile illustrations that are a unique blend of contemporary and traditional embroidery.

Q: What local small business are you loving at the moment?

A:

Holly Parr:

Mona Marnell Glass Studio

Jo Stevens Art

Wallflower and Wallace

Wonky Wheel

Jonathan Harvey-Thomas:

Beaded Blooms

Jo Stevens Art

Olivia’s Curiosities

You can find out more about these beautiful paintings by clicking here

Opening Hours

Mon and Fri – Sat, 10:00 - 17:00

Wed and Thur, 12:00 - 16:00

Sunday, 11:00 - 16:00

Tue, by appointment only 

The Green
Finchingfield, Essex.
CM7 4JS 
Info@wonky-wheel.co.uk 
Tel: +447917360726
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