I think rugs should sit quietly and make everything else in the room look wonderful,’ says the carpet designer Sandy Jones. Now, her designs are taking centre stage in a retrospective selling exhibition from May 14 to June 14 at the Afridi Gallery, SW3, which specialises in twentieth-century design and antique carpets. Seven of Sandy’s playful, colour-blocked works, reflecting her 27-year career, have been reproduced for Sandy Jones: Stepping into the Light.
Having modelled for Mary Quant in her youth and later worked as a costume designer, Sandy turned to textiles in the early Nineties. She became passionate about African and Asian examples – thanks in part to her interior-designer husband, Chester Jones – and enrolled on a textiles and embroidery course at London College of Fashion. She started making carpets when a client of her husband’s suggested that a couple of paintings in Chester’s office would provide wonderful inspiration for a carpet. ‘I made eight for him,’ recalls Sandy.
Since then, she has created carpets for interior designers, including Hugh Leslie, and worked on prestigious projects such as a 12 x 12-metre rug for Claridge’s. The carpets in this exhibition, created in collaboration with the gallery’s owner, Shahbaz Afridi, are made in Turkey from hand-dyed, hand-spun wool. ‘The craftspeople don’t scour the wool, so you get a wonderfully irregular finish,’ she says. Now in her seventies, she continues to take on commissions. ‘Some people just ask me to design a carpet for their space,’ she says. ‘They don’t specify a style and they let me get on with it. I create the designs by tearing up handmade papers, colouring them and playing with their arrangement,’ Sandy explains.
The gallery is holding a number of exhibitions over the coming months, including a showcase of Neisha Crosland’s original artworks in September.