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One of the greatest things about Queen’s Park and Kensal Rise is the immense amount of talent and creativity bouncing around our streets.  One such creative long-term resident is Monica Maja Richardson, an Italian born former TV presenter, Artist and Fashion Designer.

Monica has created a resort wear collection, perfect for the Summer months and a body of abstract artwork sold through her website and the Saatchi Art Catalogue.

We spoke to Monica about her combined love of art and fashion; what we can expect from her work – and of course, her love of the area.

You’ve been an artist for almost twenty years, what drives you to stay in the art world?

I have always loved art, my mum used to take me and my sister to museums and art galleries in Rome, and the first thing I remember is falling in love with the Impressionists… I adored them!

My great uncle was a priest, but loved painting. I remember his painting room really well – the smell of oil paint and turpentine, a smell that still makes me think of him. 

Despite always painting, Iʼve only been doing it professionally for a few years so it still really excites me to be alone and painting in my little studio. Itʼs my secret garden, where the magic can happen…

You’ve successfully managed to cultivate a fashion business from your artwork, what prompted you to make the extension into fashion?

One day in October 2016 I remember looking at a large green painting, lying on the bed in the loft, and thinking that it really looked like a bed cover. And I think thatʼs the first moment I realised there was more I could do with my artwork.

It has been quite a long journey of research since then; I didnʼt know anyone in the fashion industry, and had to research everything. But it was an amazing journey of discovery which I loved. 

Your fashion pieces are bright and colourful, perfect for the Summer season – what have been your best-selling items to date and will they be in the SS ’19 collection?

My paintings are full of colour and my fashion collection is catered to the Summer season so the colours of the sun and the sea are always present. My best selling item is the short kaftan which comes in a range of  colours and one size fits all – perfect for home, on the beach or even with a pair of jeans.

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Your kimonos kaftans are very versatile, any tips on different ways to wear them?

I love the kimonos which are being shown for the first time this season. They come in three different prints, all very colorful, and are perfect for so many occasions. I love them over a bikini or swim suit; worn as a special dressing gown at home – or even as part of a daily outfit. 

Your art pieces have been really well received with sell out exhibitions, do you plan on having any more exhibitions locally and if so, what can we expect to see?

Oh, I canʼt wait to have another exhibition!

My fashion collection has taken so much of my time that for the last couple of years it’s been impossible to focus on anything else. But of course art is my passion, is always inside, and so I keep painting.

I have a range of new artworks ready to be stretched and I’m planning an exhibition before the end of 2019 – I’ll keep you posted!

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Do you have plans to expand your ranges in the future?

I love adding new pieces but do so slowly.  I love and support #slowfashion so for me itʼs not about quantity, but quality.

My motto is ‘Be Unique, Wear Art!’ and thatʼs the reason I treat all my items with love and respect. Every piece you buy is a little piece of art, not just some fast fashion thing that youʼll throw away in few months (or even worse, few weeks..).

Next Summer however will see more designs –  my head is always spinning with new ideas and Iʼm already making new samples!

You’ve lived in Kensal Rise for fourteen years, what made you decide to live in our corner of London?

I came to Kensal Rise with my English born husband and the house where we live now was the first place we went to see, and the one I fell in love with. It was a total disaster inside, but had such a lovely vibe that I couldnʼt resist.

After so long, Kensal Rise doesn’t just have my home – but my entire life from friends, kidsʼs school, everything!  I even work from home, so I literally couldnʼt be in the area more.

What are you favourite things to do and places to visit in and around the area?

My favourite thing to do in Kensal Rise is definitely being with my friends either at our house or theirs – to eat and drink  (Iʼm italian donʼt forget) or having my kidsʼ friends over (who always seem to be hungry!).

There are so many nice shops in Kensal and in Queenʼs Park that I feel I have everything I need and enjoy staying local, using my bike to get around.  I also love doing yoga at Yoga Loft, 3-4 times per week which is what keeps me sane!

Itʼs an amazing community here – my home isn’t just London, it’s Kensal Rise.

You’re a self-taught artist, what advice would you give to others hoping to enter the art world without formal training?

It’s hard to give advice to other people – especially as I wasn’t given any, I had to discover the good and the bad myself.

However, the one piece of advice I can give, is to do what you do with love, and do it often. Follow your passion and listen to your gut. Art is something that can change and be improved every day – you need to work hard to achieve what you want, nothing comes for free…

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

To my younger self I would say ‘keep doing it girl, never stop dreaming!’

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Monica is offering 20% off all merchandise via her website, using the code QUEENSPARKMUMS at checkout.

Monica will be showcasing her works at the Spirit of Summer Fair, Olympia on 19-23 June, stand K74.  For 30% off tickets, simply enter code ET44.

www.monicamajarichardsonlondon.com
Instagram – @monicamajarichardsonlondon
Facebook – @monicamajarichardsonlondon


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