Women who inspire us


To mark this year's International Women's Day theme, #choosetochallenge, we've asked some inspirational friends of Busby & Fox to nominate another brilliant woman – a shining example of sisterhood who's challenging the perceptions and limitations of today, or whose legacy has left a lasting mark on all womankind.

Let's see who they chose and why...


To mark this year's International Women's Day theme, #choosetochallenge, we've asked some inspirational friends of Busby & Fox to nominate another brilliant woman – a shining example of sisterhood who's challenging the perceptions and limitations of today, or whose legacy has left a lasting mark on all womankind.

Let's see who they chose and why...

Bryony Gordon

by Jane Gordon

In a journalistic career spanning three decades, Jane Gordon has held columns in The Times, The Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Mirror and The Sunday Telegraph. She's the author of four novels and has recently written her first non-fiction book: How Not To Get Old - One Woman's Quest To Take Control of The Ageing Process, which is released in paperback this May.  

Who have you chosen to nominate?

My daughter, Bryony Gordon.

Who is Bryony and what does she do?

How to start? Bryony is a mental health campaigner, a memoirist (she has written four best-selling memoirs), a Telegraph columnist, a mother, a body positive influencer and, er, my daughter. In a career spanning over twenty years (she had her first column aged 18) Bryony has established herself as perhaps the most honest voice in contemporary British journalism. In chronicling the ups and downs of her life - pure OCD, a dependence on cocaine and alcohol, chaotic emotional relationships and, more recently, the joy of sobriety - she has become an inspirational figure to a growing number of young women (and their mothers!).  

In 2016 a casual tweet of Bryony’s inviting people to join her to ‘walk and talk together without fear or judgement’ inadvertently prompted the creation of Mental Health Mates. MHM is now a thriving community of peer support groups across the UK and beyond run by people with mental health issues who meet regularly to walk, connect, exercise and share.

In 2017 Bryony launched her Mad World podcast with a ground-breaking interview with Prince Harry who controversially opened up about his own mental health.

In 2019 Bryony and MHM Ambassador Jade Sezer partnered with London Marathon Events to launch the ‘Celebrate You’ campaign famously running that year’s marathon in their underwear in order to promote both body positivity and the mental and physical health benefits of exercise.

Why do you love her?

Quite apart from the unconditional love of a mother for her daughter – oh and the ridiculous levels of mother’s pride that her achievements have given me – I absolutely adore everything she does and everything she stands for even if at times her brutal honesty has unnerved me.  

I love her writing – often as hilarious as it is inspiring, I love her brilliant and refreshing Instagram posts (in underwear, no make-up, no filters) and I love her generosity of spirit (I have never heard her be judgemental of anyone).

Perhaps more pertinent on International Women’s Day I love the way that through her boldness and bravery she has broken through the barriers that have held back previous generations of women. Bryony is a true champion of the sisterhood of today (and tomorrow).

Visit www.mentalhealthmates.co.uk for more information.

In Bryony's words...

‘I've always said that feeling weird is the most normal thing in the world, and that the really strange ones are the ones who claim otherwise. But it's worth repeating it, especially now.'

'I spent so long trying so hard to be someone else because I hadn’t realised that the best thing I could be as an adult was me. People come up to me and say ‘I wish I had your confidence!’ but you can just be you, not a version of me or anyone else.'

Bryony Gordon

by Jane Gordon

In a journalistic career spanning three decades, Jane Gordon has held columns in The Times, The Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Mirror and The Sunday Telegraph. She's the author of four novels and has recently written her first non-fiction book: How Not To Get Old - One Woman's Quest To Take Control of The Ageing Process, which is released in paperback this May.  

Who have you chosen to nominate?

My daughter, Bryony Gordon.

Who is Bryony and what does she do?

How to start? Bryony is a mental health campaigner, a memoirist (she has written four best-selling memoirs), a Telegraph columnist, a mother, a body positive influencer and, er, my daughter. In a career spanning over twenty years (she had her first column aged 18) Bryony has established herself as perhaps the most honest voice in contemporary British journalism. In chronicling the ups and downs of her life - pure OCD, a dependence on cocaine and alcohol, chaotic emotional relationships and, more recently, the joy of sobriety - she has become an inspirational figure to a growing number of young women (and their mothers!).  

In 2016 a casual tweet of Bryony’s inviting people to join her to ‘walk and talk together without fear or judgement’ inadvertently prompted the creation of Mental Health Mates. MHM is now a thriving community of peer support groups across the UK and beyond run by people with mental health issues who meet regularly to walk, connect, exercise and share.

In 2017 Bryony launched her Mad World podcast with a ground-breaking interview with Prince Harry who controversially opened up about his own mental health.

In 2019 Bryony and MHM Ambassador Jade Sezer partnered with London Marathon Events to launch the ‘Celebrate You’ campaign famously running that year’s marathon in their underwear in order to promote both body positivity and the mental and physical health benefits of exercise.

Why do you love her?

Quite apart from the unconditional love of a mother for her daughter – oh and the ridiculous levels of mother’s pride that her achievements have given me – I absolutely adore everything she does and everything she stands for even if at times her brutal honesty has unnerved me.  

I love her writing – often as hilarious as it is inspiring, I love her brilliant and refreshing Instagram posts (in underwear, no make-up, no filters) and I love her generosity of spirit (I have never heard her be judgemental of anyone).

Perhaps more pertinent on International Women’s Day I love the way that through her boldness and bravery she has broken through the barriers that have held back previous generations of women. Bryony is a true champion of the sisterhood of today (and tomorrow).

Visit www.mentalhealthmates.co.uk for more information.


In Bryony's words...

‘I've always said that feeling weird is the most normal thing in the world, and that the really strange ones are the ones who claim otherwise. But it's worth repeating it, especially now.'

'I spent so long trying so hard to be someone else because I hadn’t realised that the best thing I could be as an adult was me. People come up to me and say ‘I wish I had your confidence!’ but you can just be you, not a version of me or anyone else.'

________

Alice Aedy

by Sophie Cornish

Sophie Cornish MBE is Managing Partner of Busby & Fox. She’s a multi-award-winning entrepreneur who co-founded notonthehighstreet.com, the online marketplace that's home to more than 5,000 small creative businesses across the UK. Sophie is co-author of two best-selling books, Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table and Shape Up Your Business.

Alice Aedy

by Sophie Cornish

Sophie Cornish MBE is Managing Partner of Busby & Fox. She’s a multi-award-winning entrepreneur who co-founded notonthehighstreet.com, the online marketplace that's home to more than 5,000 small creative businesses across the UK. Sophie is co-author of two best-selling books, Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table and Shape Up Your Business.

Who have you chosen to nominate?

Alice Aedy

Who is Alice and what does she do?

Alice is a documentary photographer, film-maker and activist. She’s the co-founder of Earthrise, a media platform communicating the climate crisis. She is also the founder of Frame of Mind, an online platform spotlighting the female storytellers who are shaping our understanding of the defining social issues of our time.


Who have you chosen to nominate?

Alice Aedy

Who is Alice and what does she do?

Alice is a documentary photographer, film-maker and activist. She’s the co-founder of Earthrise, a media platform communicating the climate crisis. She is also the founder of Frame of Mind, an online platform spotlighting the female storytellers who are shaping our understanding of the defining social issues of our time.

Alice is a poster child for a generation of daughters of women like me: as my values and focus have changed over the last twenty years, our daughters and their contemporaries have grown into brillant, talented adults who are challenging and teaching all of us to do what we need to do so that we leave behind us a safe world for them to live in.  

Alice’s work focuses on forced migration, environmental issues and women’s stories - and she does this beautifully in every sense. Her films have a mesmerising, cinematic quality and the beautiful aesthetic serves to humanise the people she portrays, helping to overcome the tendency we naturally have to detach ourselves from the harsh images we’re used to seeing of climate change and forced migration. She uses her film and photography talent to drive conversation and grow awareness of issues ranging from breast cancer to wildlife, always in an intimate but unobtrusive way. Alice often works entirely alone, managing the logistics of filming, photography and sound single-handed.


Alice is a poster child for a generation of daughters of women like me: as my values and focus have changed over the last twenty years, our daughters and their contemporaries have grown into brillant, talented adults who are challenging and teaching all of us to do what we need to do so that we leave behind us a safe world for them to live in.  

Alice’s work focuses on forced migration, environmental issues and women’s stories - and she does this beautifully in every sense. Her films have a mesmerising, cinematic quality and the beautiful aesthetic serves to humanise the people she portrays, helping to overcome the tendency we naturally have to detach ourselves from the harsh images we’re used to seeing of climate change and forced migration. She uses her film and photography talent to drive conversation and grow awareness of issues ranging from breast cancer to wildlife, always in an intimate but unobtrusive way. Alice often works entirely alone, managing the logistics of filming, photography and sound single-handed.

Credit: @aliceaedy Instagram

Why do you love her?

I’m in awe. Alice stands out here in the UK where celebrated female activists are far too rare. As well as her artistic talent, Alice has the most engaging, gentle quality about her. Watching her talk about her work, you can see exactly how she’s able to get so close to her subject, both physically and emotionally, and produce images which draw you deeply to the heart of the issue.

At 26, Alice has done a huge amount of work in a very short space of time (for publications like The Guardian, The Times and The BBC, brands such as Stella McCartney and Timberland, and refugee charity Choose Love). She’s incredibly wise too. She talks about ‘outrage and optimism’ and her films are a brilliant combination of the two: ‘outrage, frustration and desire for change together with an optimism that that new world is possible’. On top of that, she’s a big champion and advocate for other female filmmakers, and the important role they can play in global change.

Also – Alice wears those gorgeous glasses in the coolest, best way. How can you not think she’s epic?

Why do you love her?

I’m in awe. Alice stands out here in the UK where celebrated female activists are far too rare. As well as her artistic talent, Alice has the most engaging, gentle quality about her. Watching her talk about her work, you can see exactly how she’s able to get so close to her subject, both physically and emotionally, and produce images which draw you deeply to the heart of the issue.

At 26, Alice has done a huge amount of work in a very short space of time (for publications like The Guardian, The Times and The BBC, brands such as Stella McCartney and Timberland, and refugee charity Choose Love). She’s incredibly wise too. She talks about ‘outrage and optimism’ and her films are a brilliant combination of the two: ‘outrage, frustration and desire for change together with an optimism that that new world is possible’. On top of that, she’s a big champion and advocate for other female filmmakers, and the important role they can play in global change.

Also – Alice wears those gorgeous glasses in the coolest, best way. How can you not think she’s epic?


Credit: @aliceaedy Instagram

In Alice's words...

‘Starting out, I wish I’d had more confidence. It took me so long to have confidence in myself and to believe in my own work. I look back at that and it was wasted time. If you’re a young woman, an aspiring photographer or filmmaker… this industry needs you.’


‘I want to move people. I want people to feel passionate about the subjects that I feel passionate about. Visual storytelling is a really powerful way to achieve that.'

In Alice's words...

‘Starting out, I wish I’d had more confidence. It took me so long to have confidence in myself and to believe in my own work. I look back at that and it was wasted time. If you’re a young woman, an aspiring photographer or filmmaker… this industry needs you.’


‘I want to move people. I want people to feel passionate about the subjects that I feel passionate about. Visual storytelling is a really powerful way to achieve that.'

________

Julia Child

by Emily Scott

Based in Cornwall, chef and restaurateur Emily Scott has been recognised by Michelin since 2016. She has been listed in Code Hospitality’s '100 most influential women in hospitality' and has also appeared on Great British Menu, representing the South West. Sea & Shore is Emily's debut cookbook.

Who have you chosen to nominate?

Julia Child.

Who is Julia and what did she do?

Julia Child was a chef, cookery teacher, television personality and author. Julia is recognised for bringing french cuisine to the american public, she was an american icon who pioneered an entire genre of cooking and taught a generation of food lovers that cooking could be easy and enjoyable.

Julia Child was honest, frank and fearless and she was recognised in a world that was predominantly male. Julia had wonderful support from her husband Paul always referring to everything she did as 'we" not I. Julia and Paul would host dinner parties together, plan the menu, shop together, they were a team. When Julia became a celebrity the day to day reality of Julia's wish to be a good wife and the tensions for her professional ambitions were not easy but Julia managed a balance with selflessness and determination.

Julia always said "I am not driven, I am simply enjoying what I do and I am lucky to be in this wonderful profession that I just adore. In 1995 Julia Child founded The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and Culinary Arts, a charitable foundation to make grants to further her life's work.

Julie & Julia – a film adapted by Nora Ephron from Child's memoirs, My Life in France – is simply wonderful and a must-watch film.

Credits: Julschlesinger library Radcliffe Institute Harvard University

Credits: AP/Rex/Shutterstock  

Why do you love her?

I love Julia's warmth and generous spirit, she loved to learn and never rested on her laurels. Julia's open curiosity, love for food and passion for cooking made her such a star. Mastering the Art of French Cooking volumes one and two are the most wonderful books they transport me straight back to my days spent in France. Homemade mayonnaise, the perfect Poulet Roti, creme Anglaise, puff pastry and of course Boeuf Bourguignon with red wine. I love to inspire people to cook, it is not always about being the best or the most perfect cook it is about having a go and being together.
 
Julia Child died in 2004 but her legacy remains and for me she continues to be such an inspiration to so many people around the world. A truly epic, kind hearted wonderful woman.

In Julia's words...

'Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.'
 
'Being tall is an advantage, especially in business. People will always remember you. And if you're in a crowd, you'll always have some clean air to breathe.'

Julia Child

by Emily Scott

Based in Cornwall, chef and restaurateur Emily Scott has been recognised by Michelin since 2016. She has been listed in Code Hospitality’s '100 most influential women in hospitality' and has also appeared on Great British Menu, representing the South West. Sea & Shore is Emily's debut cookbook.

________


Who have you chosen to nominate?

Julia Child.

Who is Julia and what did she do?

Julia Child was a chef, cookery teacher, television personality and author. Julia is recognised for bringing french cuisine to the american public, she was an american icon who pioneered an entire genre of cooking and taught a generation of food lovers that cooking could be easy and enjoyable.

Julia Child was honest, frank and fearless and she was recognised in a world that was predominantly male. Julia had wonderful support from her husband Paul always referring to everything she did as 'we" not I. Julia and Paul would host dinner parties together, plan the menu, shop together, they were a team. When Julia became a celebrity the day to day reality of Julia's wish to be a good wife and the tensions for her professional ambitions were not easy but Julia managed a balance with selflessness and determination.

Julia always said "I am not driven, I am simply enjoying what I do and I am lucky to be in this wonderful profession that I just adore. In 1995 Julia Child founded The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and Culinary Arts, a charitable foundation to make grants to further her life's work.

Julie & Julia – a film adapted by Nora Ephron from Child's memoirs, My Life in France – is simply wonderful and a must-watch film.

Julia Child

by Emily Scott

Based in Cornwall, chef and restaurateur Emily Scott has been recognised by Michelin since 2016. She has been listed in Code Hospitality’s '100 most influential women in hospitality' and has also appeared on Great British Menu, representing the South West. Sea & Shore is Emily's debut cookbook.

Who have you chosen to nominate?

Julia Child.

Who is Julia and what did she do?

Julia Child was a chef, cookery teacher, television personality and author. Julia is recognised for bringing french cuisine to the american public, she was an american icon who pioneered an entire genre of cooking and taught a generation of food lovers that cooking could be easy and enjoyable.

Julia Child was honest, frank and fearless and she was recognised in a world that was predominantly male. Julia had wonderful support from her husband Paul always referring to everything she did as 'we" not I. Julia and Paul would host dinner parties together, plan the menu, shop together, they were a team. When Julia became a celebrity the day to day reality of Julia's wish to be a good wife and the tensions for her professional ambitions were not easy but Julia managed a balance with selflessness and determination.

Julia always said "I am not driven, I am simply enjoying what I do and I am lucky to be in this wonderful profession that I just adore. In 1995 Julia Child founded The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and Culinary Arts, a charitable foundation to make grants to further her life's work.

Julie & Julia – a film adapted by Nora Ephron from Child's memoirs, My Life in France – is simply wonderful and a must-watch film.

Photo credits: (CUSTOM CREDIT)/JULSCHLESINGER LIBRARY RADCLIFFE INSTITUTE HARVARD UNIVERSITY

Photo credits: AP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Why do you love her?

I love Julia's warmth and generous spirit, she loved to learn and never rested on her laurels. Julia's open curiosity, love for food and passion for cooking made her such a star. Mastering the Art of French Cooking volumes one and two are the most wonderful books they transport me straight back to my days spent in France. Homemade mayonnaise, the perfect Poulet Roti, creme Anglaise, puff pastry and of course Boeuf Bourguignon with red wine. I love to inspire people to cook, it is not always about being the best or the most perfect cook it is about having a go and being together.
 
Julia Child died in 2004 but her legacy remains and for me she continues to be such an inspiration to so many people around the world. A truly epic, kind hearted wonderful woman.

In Julia's words...

'Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.'
 
'Being tall is an advantage, especially in business. People will always remember you. And if you're in a crowd, you'll always have some clean air to breathe.'

________

Jane Campion

by Miranda Gardiner

Miranda is a highly successful artist whose stunning work can be found in galleries all over the world. Her work and life-long interests have always been art and food. She is a post-graduate of The Courtauld Institute of Art in London and Falmouth College of Art in Cornwall. As a former curator of contemporary art she has worked with artists such as James Turrell, Andy Goldsworthy, Tacita Dean, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, as well as written a cookbook, How to Teach Dad to Cook Flapjack published by Hardie Grant. Miranda paints landscapes and still-lifes on linen, canvas and deep wooden panels.

Who have you chosen to nominate?

Jane Campion.

Who is Jane and what does she do?

Jane Campion is an Oscar-winning New Zealand Film Director, writer and producer who is the first, and still the only female director to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with her 1993 film, The Piano. She creates visually compelling films, about strong, vulnerable, real, complex and dynamic women.

Why do you love her?

Ever since I saw her film, The Piano, one April night in a cinema on the wind swept west coast of rural Ireland in the early 90s, I have always been fascinated by Jane’s work with its sublime fusion of wild naturalistic imagery, sheer awkwardness and gritty unfiltered scenes. The Piano is set in the ancient and remote kauri forests of 19th century New Zealand and tells the story of a mute Scottish migrant, played by Holly Hunter. After a long sea voyage, she is dumped on an exposed beach with her grand piano and daughter to begin her new life, which starts with an arranged marriage.

Jane’s films are immersed in the everyday experience of women. You can’t help admire the way her intentions are not to primarily please her audience, or the movie funders, but to provide a personal exploration of dirty and dangerous lives that are revealed when you scratch the surface of life. Her recent tv series, Top of the Lake, is set in the chic Alpine ski town, of Queenstown, renamed Laketop, on the South Island of New Zealand and highlights the intersection of some dark realities that are masked by the authorities and female exploitation that bubbles to the surface. Most of her work was well before the Me Too movement, but she was robustly probing into this territory long before.

My own work is far removed from the gritty scenes that Jane lingers on, as they are mostly still-lifes, landscapes and abstract works. However, I strive for what I consider to be a wobbly balance between beautifully made marks and passages that are inherently awkward, to provide a feeling of being present in the moment, however restful they may at first appear.

Credits: Apparition

Credits: Lee Celano/Reuters

In Jane's words...

‘One of the things we learn in movies directed by men is that the ‘fantasy women’ is. What we learn in movies directed by women is what real women are about, I don’t think that men see things wrong and women right, just that we see things differently.’

Jane Campion

by Miranda Gardiner

Miranda is a highly successful artist whose stunning work can be found in galleries all over the world. Her work and life-long interests have always been art and food. She is a post-graduate of The Courtauld Institute of Art in London and Falmouth College of Art in Cornwall. As a former curator of contemporary art she has worked with artists such as James Turrell, Andy Goldsworthy, Tacita Dean, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, as well as written a cookbook, How to Teach Dad to Cook Flapjack published by Hardie Grant. Miranda paints landscapes and still-lifes on linen, canvas and deep wooden panels.


Who have you chosen to nominate?

Jane Campion.

Who is Jane and what does she do?

Jane Campion is an Oscar-winning New Zealand Film Director, writer and producer who is the first, and still the only female director to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with her 1993 film, The Piano. She creates visually compelling films, about strong, vulnerable, real, complex and dynamic women.

Why do you love her?

Ever since I saw her film, The Piano, one April night in a cinema on the wind swept west coast of rural Ireland in the early 90s, I have always been fascinated by Jane’s work with its sublime fusion of wild naturalistic imagery, sheer awkwardness and gritty unfiltered scenes. The Piano is set in the ancient and remote kauri forests of 19th century New Zealand and tells the story of a mute Scottish migrant, played by Holly Hunter. After a long sea voyage, she is dumped on an exposed beach with her grand piano and daughter to begin her new life, which starts with an arranged marriage.


Jane’s films are immersed in the everyday experience of women. You can’t help admire the way her intentions are not to primarily please her audience, or the movie funders, but to provide a personal exploration of dirty and dangerous lives that are revealed when you scratch the surface of life. Her recent tv series, Top of the Lake, is set in the chic Alpine ski town, of Queenstown, renamed Laketop, on the South Island of New Zealand and highlights the intersection of some dark realities that are masked by the authorities and female exploitation that bubbles to the surface. Most of her work was well before the Me Too movement, but she was robustly probing into this territory long before.

My own work is far removed from the gritty scenes that Jane lingers on, as they are mostly still-lifes, landscapes and abstract works. However, I strive for what I consider to be a wobbly balance between beautifully made marks and passages that are inherently awkward, to provide a feeling of being present in the moment, however restful they may at first appear.

Credits: Apparition

Credits: Lee Celano/Reuters

In Jane's words...

‘One of the things we learn in movies directed by men is that the ‘fantasy women’ is. What we learn in movies directed by women is what real women are about, I don’t think that men see things wrong and women right, just that we see things differently.’

________

Constance Spry

by Emma Vowles

Emma needs little introduction as Founder and Creative Director of Busby & Fox. Emma began as a florist in 2008, a kitchen-table enterprise which quickly grew and by 2010, Emma and her husband Felix collected the keys to their first shop in Totnes, expanding their offering to include women’s clothing, shoes, jewellery and homewares - and so, the first ‘Busby & Fox’ was born...

Who have you chosen to nominate?

Constance Spry.

Who is Constance and what did she do?

Born in Derby in 1822, in her early years Constance studied nursing, was a headmistress and worked for the Ministry of Aircraft amongst a few other jobs. After a courageous (in those days) divorce from an abusive marriage, she headed to the Big Smoke with her son and opened the doors to her first florist shop ‘Flower Decoration’ which is where she started to change the way floristry had ever been approached.

Constance used seasonal flowers but with ‘unusual’ hedgerow and garden foliage, which at the time were considered as weeds and unconventional material. The creator of wilder more natural ‘looks’ using things like pussywillow, twigs, branches and trailing ivy - arrangements which looked like they had grown into their final position as opposed to being placed. People would travel miles to see her arrangements and her shop window displays stopped traffic.

She was also known for using unconventional vessels that had never been used for floristry before travelling all over to flea markets and antique fairs where she would stash her vintage finds, paint and reuse them.

She was no stranger to going against the grain and had an affair which evolved into a long-term relationship with the female painter Gluck. She ensured she had little exposure out in society but still, a courageous thing to pursue in that day in age. Constance also opened a floristry and domestic science school, was responsible for the flowers at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, invented ‘Coronation Chicken’ ...and oh, published a cool thirteen books.

Why do you love her?

When I first started my own floristry journey, I learnt a lot more about Constance. I felt a funny sense of approval to try and break the mould slightly in the floristry world. I wasn’t following the traditional routes, my work was more seasonal, looser, free - you can see how I quickly became fascinated with her love of all things growing, rather than picked and manicured. She kept her arrangements looking like a section pulled straight from the garden: authentic, original with a bit of a wild side - everything I wanted my work to be. Not to mention our shared love for vintage pots, jars, pots and anything antiquey.

Her use of countryside foliage together with commercial flowers was genius and revolutionary. Something she pioneered almost 100 years ago that still has huge influence on modern florists today and has done through the years. David Austin (‘the English Rose King’ in my eyes) named his original rose after Constance. A stunning, deeply cupped easy light magenta rose - just timeless and magnificent.

She is a total inspiration and a true 'domestic goddess’!

Credit: George Konig/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Credits: Popperfoto/Getty Images

In Constance's words...

 'Do whatever you please. Follow your own star: be original if you want to be and don't if you don't want to be. Just be natural and gay and light-hearted and pretty and simple and overflowing and general and baroque and bare and austere and stylized and wild and daring and conservative. And learn and learn and learn. Open your mind to every form of beauty.'

‘Never forget that when arranging flowers, you have an opportunity to express your own sense of what is beautiful and you should feel free and uninhibited in doing it.’

Constance Spry

by Emma Vowles

Emma needs little introduction as Founder and Creative Director of Busby & Fox. Emma began as a florist in 2008, a kitchen-table enterprise which quickly grew and by 2010, Emma and her husband Felix collected the keys to their first shop in Totnes, expanding their offering to include women’s clothing, shoes, jewellery and homewares - and so, the first ‘Busby & Fox’ was born...


Who have you chosen to nominate?

Constance Spry.

Who is Constance and what did she do?

Born in Derby in 1822, in her early years Constance studied nursing, was a headmistress and worked for the Ministry of Aircraft amongst a few other jobs. After a courageous (in those days) divorce from an abusive marriage, she headed to the Big Smoke with her son and opened the doors to her first florist shop ‘Flower Decoration’ which is where she started to change the way floristry had ever been approached.

Constance used seasonal flowers but with ‘unusual’ hedgerow and garden foliage, which at the time were considered as weeds and unconventional material. The creator of wilder more natural ‘looks’ using things like pussywillow, twigs, branches and trailing ivy - arrangements which looked like they had grown into their final position as opposed to being placed. People would travel miles to see her arrangements and her shop window displays stopped traffic.

She was also known for using unconventional vessels that had never been used for floristry before travelling all over to flea markets and antique fairs where she would stash her vintage finds, paint and reuse them.

She was no stranger to going against the grain and had an affair which evolved into a long-term relationship with the female painter Gluck. She ensured she had little exposure out in society but still, a courageous thing to pursue in that day in age. Constance also opened a floristry and domestic science school, was responsible for the flowers at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, invented ‘Coronation Chicken’ ...and oh, published a cool thirteen books.

Credit: George Konig/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Credits: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Why do you love her?

When I first started my own floristry journey, I learnt a lot more about Constance. I felt a funny sense of approval to try and break the mould slightly in the floristry world. I wasn’t following the traditional routes, my work was more seasonal, looser, free - you can see how I quickly became fascinated with her love of all things growing, rather than picked and manicured. She kept her arrangements looking like a section pulled straight from the garden: authentic, original with a bit of a wild side - everything I wanted my work to be. Not to mention our shared love for vintage pots, jars, pots and anything antiquey.

Her use of countryside foliage together with commercial flowers was genius and revolutionary. Something she pioneered almost 100 years ago that still has huge influence on modern florists today and has done through the years. David Austin (‘the English Rose King’ in my eyes) named his original rose after Constance. A stunning, deeply cupped easy light magenta rose - just timeless and magnificent.

She is a total inspiration and a true 'domestic goddess’!

In Constance's words...

 'Do whatever you please. Follow your own star: be original if you want to be and don't if you don't want to be. Just be natural and gay and light-hearted and pretty and simple and overflowing and general and baroque and bare and austere and stylized and wild and daring and conservative. And learn and learn and learn. Open your mind to every form of beauty.'

‘Never forget that when arranging flowers, you have an opportunity to express your own sense of what is beautiful and you should feel free and uninhibited in doing it.’

________

Alicia Livingstone

by Emma Solley

Emma Solley is a Devon based artist and photographer and founder of Salt + Land, Contemporary Fine Art. Nature is a recurring theme for Emma. Her works are visual meditations, where you can lose yourself in the same way you do when you are by the sea. From huge dramatic skies, to tranquil oceans, scenes of big surf and rugged coastline, whatever the subject, Emma is constantly seeking a sense of peace, beauty and contemplation.
 
She lives on Dartmoor with her husband and daughter, but with family in Polzeath, she is a frequent visitor to the Cornish coast.

Who have you chosen to nominate?

Alicia Livingstone

Who is Alicia and what does she do?

Alicia Livingstone is the founder and owner of British Contemporary Art Gallery Livingstone St Ives and its sister company Far & Wild. Livingstone St. Ives sources and exhibits contemporary and modern art associated with Cornwall, its artistic heritage, and future direction. Alicia places special emphasis on representing artists living or working in Cornwall in the medium of oil painting. 

Alicia’s two-story gallery space is converted from two historic fishing cottages in the heart of St. Ives, on Fore Street. It’s a light and airy space to wander around, sit and enjoy the regularly changing artwork on display. Livingstone St. Ives works with artists to deliver an exciting programme of exhibitions displaying and promoting new artwork at both galleries, and online.

They also offer a bespoke sourcing service, and work with domestic clients and interior designers to source the perfect piece of artwork for commercial and domestic projects. Recent projects include sourcing artwork for House of Hackney’s newly refurbished Trematon Castle in Liskeard; for the re-design of a Victorian manse-house in Yorkshire, and a curation of contemporary abstract paintings for a beachfront apartment on the north Cornish coast to reflect the panoramic view of the ocean.

It's not just incredible women in Alicia’s family, her brother is a mover and shaker in the art world as well. He is Tobias Vernon of 8 Holland Street @8hollandstreet, a highly regarded gallery space and design studio with bespoke services in art sourcing and curation, furniture sourcing, and interior design. 

Why do you love her?

Principally I love her because of her inner strength and resolve. By the time we are in our 40s, most of us will have weathered a fair few storms, yet here we are, stronger and more self assured. Why? Because we choose to challenge, when the going gets really tough, we choose to challenge life and all it throws at us. To quote Coldplay and please forgive the cliched reference, “we are diamonds taking shape” and right now at the start of her 40s, it is Alicia’s time to shine. Alicia has not only founded and built from the ground up two of the most remarkable art businesses in the country, Livingstone St Ives and Far & Wild, she has thrived during a pandemic, when most of us are just struggling to homeschool.

Alicia is an ultra marathon runner, an iron women, a mother of three and most importantly Alicia is a huge champion of important living female artists, that challenge the gender and equality concepts of the world we live in, such as Henrietta Dubrey & Isobel Litten. I have grown up around strong women. Alicia and I were at school together and we are just two of a huge cohort of strong, kind, hardworking, multifaceted, resilient women, many of whom are now shaping their chosen fields of industry, whilst juggling motherhood and all that life continues to throw at us. I love her simply because Alicia is the epitome of female inner strength and has such a beautiful vision for the art filled world of the future.

One of the major things, aside from our loved ones, I think we have all missed during the pandemic is access to arts and culture. That creativity, it nurtures our souls and I believe it is what sets us apart as a species and makes us so special to be human. I want my daughter to grow up in a kind, culture rich, diverse world where women don’t have to choose. If we are strong enough and choose to challenge and evolve, we can have it all.

In Alicia's words...

'Sometimes trying to work and run a family feels completely overwhelming, and then I remember the advice, ‘When you look back, the big things are in fact the little things’ so when it feels like its all going to explode – like I’m going to drop all the balls in the air – I try and focus on the fact that my children are in fact my source of strength, not my adversity.'

Alicia Livingstone

by Emma Solley

Emma Solley is a Devon based artist and photographer and founder of Salt + Land, Contemporary Fine Art. Nature is a recurring theme for Emma. Her works are visual meditations, where you can lose yourself in the same way you do when you are by the sea. From huge dramatic skies, to tranquil oceans, scenes of big surf and rugged coastline, whatever the subject, Emma is constantly seeking a sense of peace, beauty and contemplation.
 
She lives on Dartmoor with her husband and daughter, but with family in Polzeath, she is a frequent visitor to the Cornish coast.

Who have you chosen to nominate?

Alicia Livingstone

Who is Alicia and what does she do?

Alicia Livingstone is the founder and owner of British Contemporary Art Gallery Livingstone St Ives and its sister company Far & Wild. Livingstone St. Ives sources and exhibits contemporary and modern art associated with Cornwall, its artistic heritage, and future direction. Alicia places special emphasis on representing artists living or working in Cornwall in the medium of oil painting. 

Alicia’s two-story gallery space is converted from two historic fishing cottages in the heart of St. Ives, on Fore Street. It’s a light and airy space to wander around, sit and enjoy the regularly changing artwork on display. Livingstone St. Ives works with artists to deliver an exciting programme of exhibitions displaying and promoting new artwork at both galleries, and online.

They also offer a bespoke sourcing service, and work with domestic clients and interior designers to source the perfect piece of artwork for commercial and domestic projects. Recent projects include sourcing artwork for House of Hackney’s newly refurbished Trematon Castle in Liskeard; for the re-design of a Victorian manse-house in Yorkshire, and a curation of contemporary abstract paintings for a beachfront apartment on the north Cornish coast to reflect the panoramic view of the ocean.

It's not just incredible women in Alicia’s family, her brother is a mover and shaker in the art world as well. He is Tobias Vernon of 8 Holland Street @8hollandstreet, a highly regarded gallery space and design studio with bespoke services in art sourcing and curation, furniture sourcing, and interior design. 

Why do you love her?

Principally I love her because of her inner strength and resolve. By the time we are in our 40s, most of us will have weathered a fair few storms, yet here we are, stronger and more self assured. Why? Because we choose to challenge, when the going gets really tough, we choose to challenge life and all it throws at us. To quote Coldplay and please forgive the cliched reference, “we are diamonds taking shape” and right now at the start of her 40s, it is Alicia’s time to shine. Alicia has not only founded and built from the ground up two of the most remarkable art businesses in the country, Livingstone St Ives and Far & Wild, she has thrived during a pandemic, when most of us are just struggling to homeschool.

Alicia is an ultra marathon runner, an iron women, a mother of three and most importantly Alicia is a huge champion of important living female artists, that challenge the gender and equality concepts of the world we live in, such as Henrietta Dubrey & Isobel Litten. I have grown up around strong women. Alicia and I were at school together and we are just two of a huge cohort of strong, kind, hardworking, multifaceted, resilient women, many of whom are now shaping their chosen fields of industry, whilst juggling motherhood and all that life continues to throw at us. I love her simply because Alicia is the epitome of female inner strength and has such a beautiful vision for the art filled world of the future.

One of the major things, aside from our loved ones, I think we have all missed during the pandemic is access to arts and culture. That creativity, it nurtures our souls and I believe it is what sets us apart as a species and makes us so special to be human. I want my daughter to grow up in a kind, culture rich, diverse world where women don’t have to choose. If we are strong enough and choose to challenge and evolve, we can have it all.

In Alicia's words...

'Sometimes trying to work and run a family feels completely overwhelming, and then I remember the advice, ‘When you look back, the big things are in fact the little things’ so when it feels like its all going to explode – like I’m going to drop all the balls in the air – I try and focus on the fact that my children are in fact my source of strength, not my adversity.'