In just a few days’ time, the bears will hit the streets of Sheffield for this summer’s sculpture trail. Ahead of the launch on 12th July, we caught up with Eleanor Young, the artist of Webhelp’s Pastel Pattern Patchwork Bear to learn more about our bear sculpture and the creative process behind the design.

 

First of all, tell us a little bit about your background as an artist?

I’m a designer maker based in rural Perthshire, where I run my design studio Fun Makes Good. Having studied textile design at Glasgow School of Art I now specialise in contemporary patchwork, creating bold, bright, design-led interior products and upholstery as well as large scale bespoke textile pieces for commercial spaces and the public realm. Although primarily specialising in textiles I’ve enjoyed evolving my practice to include murals and pieces of public art too, all in my signature colourful graphic style.

How did you come across the call out for artists to design a Bear for the trail?

I was privileged enough to be asked by The Children’s Hospital Charity’s team to submit a design as I was already working on a project with Sheffield Children’s Hospital. I jumped at the chance, as it seemed a nice way to develop on the work I was already creating for them, bringing the work out of the hospital and into the wider city for people on the street to enjoy.


How did you feel when your design was chosen by Webhelp?

It’s really lovely to have a company behind it who feel passionate about the cause and want to support the sculpture trail. I’m delighted my design was selected!


What inspired you to choose the patchwork theme for the bear?

I chose to create a design that takes direct reference from the textile work that I had been working on for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. I’d recently been making bespoke cushions for seats and seating areas in the hospital that featured soft patchworks of flowing shapes in ice-cream colours. I wanted to use the same colour pallet and reference the same pattern but as if the shapes continued on into one large patchwork, that could wrap around the bear. It was nice to expand on the design and take it into a 3-dimentional space!


How many weeks did it take you to complete the sculpture, did you hit a creative block?

It was very good timing as the bear arrived just days before the very first lockdown last year. It provided me with a very calming activity to work on whilst everything else seemed to be so uncertain. It was really lovely just taking the time to work on it bit by bit unpressured.

Fun Makes Good has created work for unusual and interesting places, what has been the most memorable place?

One of my favourite projects actually took one of my pieces out on tour, to help promote live performance across the Highlands and Islands. I upholstered some theatre chairs in bespoke digitally printed velvet. The chairs travelled across country on the top of a yellow car and were placed in some of the most beautiful locations across the Highlands including beaches, hills and beside lochs. It was such a fun idea!


Can you tell us about your collaboration with Artfelt when you created bespoke textiles and interior decoration within Sheffield Children’s Hospital?

I feel very privileged to have worked with Artfelt, the charity arts programme at Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital, on a few different commissions after meeting Jade Richardson the Arts commissioner at a Christmas Market at the Hepworth in 2018. After seeing my cushions at the market I was asked to make some in a hospital suitable material, that could add an element of ‘home’ and comfort in some of the seating areas. Working with healthcare grade vinyl, I made a number of patchwork designs that tied in with the existing interior decoration.

From there, I worked on designing a whole scheme for one of the parent’s rooms, bringing together textiles with hand painted murals and wall art. It was a fantastic experience and I received great feedback from the staff who were all involved in the design process, making sure all the elements were right for the space. I also really enjoyed the experience of coming into the hospital to paint, as I was able to meet some of the parents who would be using the room and could see how much they appreciated having an area designed for them.

Around the same time, I was commissioned to design some large-scale cushions to be fitted into internal windows within the newly completed ward. The scale of the large internal windows provided an opportunity to create a space within the corridors for seating. These individual pods could provide semi private, quiet spaces for waiting and contemplation and I designed some complimentary soft seating pads.


Will you be visiting Sheffield to see the Bears?

Yes! I’m very much hoping to make a trip later in the summer with my family as my wee boy has been asking ‘where has the bear gone’ and I know he’ll love hunting out the others across the city.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Eleanor’s designs check out Fun Makes Good amazing product selection here.

As proud sponsors of the trail, Webhelpers across our three Yorkshire sites have various actives planned to raise funds for Sheffield Children’s Hospital. We can’t wait to see what they have in store!

In the meantime, let the bear hunt begin #PatchworkBear.