Sarah Bainbridge, Sarah Blythe
Sarah Bainbridge grew up in Australia, where she loved to collect and paint flowers as a child with her grandmother, Joan. After moving to London in 2015 to study textile design at Chelsea College of Arts, Sarah carried on producing botanically inspired work, eventually creating her own technique for preserving flowers on textiles. This became the basis for her business in 2016. She works by hammering petals into cotton or linen.
‘The natural pigments become the paints,’ says Sarah. ‘It’s lovely to create work from something that would otherwise be thrown away and to make its beauty last.’ Sarah photographs the pressed petals, then creates prints to decorate cushions, silk scarves and lampshades. A popular product is her Wedding Bouquet Smash, where the colour and aura of the real flowers are carried through into decorative keepsakes.
Sarah now lives in East Grinstead, West Sussex, with partner Jon, but runs her online business with her mother, Sharon, who contributes new techniques from back in Australia. The business name of Blythe – Sarah’s middle name – pays homage to Joan, who has always called her by this name. ‘It’s great to keep the home connections strong,’ says Sarah. ‘Mum and my grandmother are always sending photographs of beautiful flora.’
With business flourishing, the mother-and-daughter team have opened a shop in Edenbridge, Kent. ‘When you love what you do, the hard graft is worth it,’ says Sarah. ‘The award has made me even more motivated.’