Designer Simon Turner on how the rugged Suffolk coast has inspired his artwork. Interview: Alex Fisher
My wife, Joanna, introduced me to the coast. Having grown up in Manchester I was city boy, but Joanna’s grandmother lived in Suffolk and we started coming down here when we had our children, Joseph, now 15, and Rosie, 18. We were here so often that we ended up buying a little, almost derelict, cottage four years ago.
Previously, I’d made huge wooden tables for Big Brother and lots of oak benches for the Eden project, but the more time I spent by the coast, the more it influenced my work. Although I still make items of furniture, I started to create smaller pieces of artwork. These included huge numbers of tiny wooden birds, all individually cut out and mounted on to timber. I also began to paint driftwood and other objects I found on the beach and display them in local galleries. The response has been great and I receive a lot of commissions from local people who want something that represents the area they love.
In 2012 I took over one of the beach huts at Yoxford Antiques, so my work can be seen there throughout the year. Yoxford Antiques has a series of ‘art beach huts’ in its reclamation centre. My studio is in Yoxford and I open this for exhibitions every now and again. I love to sit on the beach and sketch. There is a real moodiness and atmosphere in this area. I’ll often get up in the middle of the night and go down to the sea to watch a great storm.