Prep before and remember, more is more


The sunny and bright flat of 28-year-old London-based artist Venetia Berry is like walking into one of Van Gogh’s swirly paintings. Walls come in happy shades of sunflower yellow or cornflower blue juxtaposed with leafy greens, and every single surface available is covered in paintings, posters, sculptures, vases, little dishes, nick-nacks and plates. You would be hard-pressed to put down a cup of tea.

“I sometimes get overwhelmed at how much stuff I have,” Berry says. Well, if you don’t want it - give it to me! I reply enthusiastically. Berry laughs, but I note I have not been handed a painting off the wall. Damn. Worth a try. 

Over the past few years, Berry has forged a name for herself in both the art and fashion world. Her colourful line paintings, depicting the female form in various guises, have attracted the likes of author Dolly Alderton, Stella McCartney and Jessie Ware. She has now expanded her works to include ceramics (she proudly purchased a kiln for her studio last year) and creates plates, dishes and vases, and has worked on multiple fashion collaborations creating designs for bags and dresses.

All of the above is laid on a patterned hand-embellished tablecloth (a KOIBIRD exclusive by Abbie Walsh) with frilled edges. “I think a tablecloth is always such a nice thing, better than a bare table, it automatically means you have a base for decorating,” she says.

Berry loves hosting, the fact she pre-prepares most of her food and nibbles the day before guests arrive tells you all you need to know. “I find it hard to cook and talk at the same time, so it’s better for me to pre-prepare and then I can enjoy myself.” Two of Berry’s ultimate go-to dishes to cook include Anna Jones’ Dahl and gazpacho. Berry’s top tip here is to use the pulp left over by the gazpacho as a dip for the crisps – genius, no?!

The table is pre-prepared (obviously) but, in typical Berry manner, looks as if she’s casually thrown it all together without a thought. When pressed, she revealed her rules for tablescaping:

1. Firstly, it’s always mix and match, welcoming the fact you have different glasses and cutlery is part of the fun. “Embrace the imperfect,” she says. Flowers and candles are always warranted. No exceptions. For the festive period, Berry suggests using foliage and branches down the centre of your table.

2. When looking at your items on the table, clash textures, colours and prints, and when you think there’s enough on the table - add more. “I really love the speckled Murano glasses by Stories of Italy, they are beautiful and bring a lot of instant colour.”

3. You can always cheat for dessert. “I love the Gu puddings, and the best thing is the ramekin dishes at the end which I actually turn into paint pots.” Artists, take note.

Looking forward, Berry will be making many New Year resolutions, however, one, in particular, is made annually. “ I always say I will write a diary, but this only lasts for about two weeks in January, which coincidentally is the most boring time of the year,” she laughs cheekily. After this statement it’s time for Berry to enjoy her table and to receive guests, I make my way back through the flat eyeing the walls hungrily. One day!

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