Friends of Milou Milou, Jessica MacCormick, Photographer
New Zealand born, UK-based Jessica MacCormick is a phenomenal creative and photographer, one whose sensitive eye and command of light and form is particularly attuned to the natural world and portraiture. We feel incredibly lucky to have had her capture Milou Milou linens in her gorgeous, sprawling East Sussex home. Here, she shares her approach to colour, home and ritual.
MM: How is colour important to you and how does it influence your life? Tell us about some treasured objects, about the colours you find yourself returning to again, the meanings they hold, the systems you have around colour in your life, wardrobe and home.
JM: We’re talking about colour in great detail at the moment, the functional, purposeful application of it in particular. We recently bought a Grade II listed apartment in a terrace in East Sussex that was in a poor state of repair.
However she was gorgeous, and we’d decided to plunge into a project neither Daniel, my partner, nor I had any experience in. The major project right now is redoing the lime walls. Lime is a truly lovely thing. Breathing with the house, light reflective and textured, so we’ve been talking about the many different shades of white! It’s almost impossible to jump to the next topic, that of colour.
As we’ve stripped back the old wallpaper, layers of the most beautiful paint colour are being revealed, in particular a gorgeous, pale sage green. One of the reasons I fell in love with this home was how light moves around a room, how I’ve seen colour emerge in the garden, the wall of green, evergreen trees that line the street opposite against a park. They stand steadfast through the winter, bar one deciduous tree, who rebelliously turns gold and orange and then loses all her leaves. This deep focus on home is to do with living inside the pandemic - I can watch the seasons changing. All of this influences the way I use colour in my work, and my work definitely has a palette — one of the natural world, accented with colour.
How do you begin and end your days?
JM: Our bedroom was most likely the housekeeper's room, where most of the household transactions took place. It has high ceilings, two beautiful big windows and a surprisingly generous amount of light. We discovered a window that had been covered up, restored the walls using lime plaster and have rebuilt the floor using reclaimed floor boards from another 1860 property in East Sussex. It’s very plain and simple, which I like, and the unadorned windows and straight lines remind me of Californian Spanish architecture. I can see our bird feeders from bed, so in winter I love to lie and watch them.
Mornings generally involve being woken by our daughter who has undoubtedly already crept in with us during the night. Then it’s a hustle for coffee and eggs. If I can get someone to bring me a coffee in bed, it’s a dream. Bedtime is marked by listening to a podcast or book as I fall asleep. The best part of the week is having crisp, freshly washed sheets. Beautiful sheets elevate sleeping like nothing else.
What have you been consuming of late, can you share the artists, books, podcasts, albums, films and brands you've been drawn to?
Emahoy Tsegue Maryam Guebrou’s album Éthiopiques 21: Piano Solo has been the record of choice as the seasons change here, and quiet nights in the garden move indoors. It’s perfect listening anytime, any mood. There’s nothing quite like it. We’ve also been listening to Grimes’ Miss Anthropocene, Dionne Warwick, Falle Nioke, friends playlists on Spotify and the best compilation of NZ music, the Topless Women Talk About Their Lives soundtrack.
I’m also very interested in Tesla at the moment. A friend has one, and has been kind enough to let me drive it, which has completely transformed how I view driving. One night I stood in my back garden and watched Space X fly across the sky on its way to the International Space Station. This technology is a game changer. I say that in as much as I am entirely conflicted over Musk himself.
I’ve loved many books this year, notably The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, Peter Pan, Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, Wilding by Isabella Tree and Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates.
Producers Radiolab are my new This American LIfe. Dolly Parton’s America is such an incredibly poignant exploration of identity and memory that goes much further than Dolly herself. Gardens, Weeds and Words, holds not only practical advice about gardening, but is also thoughtful and poetic. For cinema lovers, You Must Remember This is fantastic.
Tell us about your recent work and creative practise.
I was lucky enough to contribute to a series on gardens and people for Le Monde’s M Magazine in partnership with gardener and publisher John Tebbs of Pleasure Garden magazine. I also wrote and photographed a series for The Ethnobotanical Assembly, an online magazine for research, writing, and thinking about people-plant relationships. I’ve captured some incredible, creative women in London for Studio Nicholson, and brand images for Monument, a beautiful new online store full of curated art and furniture by Leah Forsyth-Steel and Victoria Spicer.
It would be interesting to hear how you think about living in two places, having your heart in both Aotearoa and the UK.
JM: It’s been extraordinarily tough this past year, being so, so, so far away from everyone I hold dear, and not just being able to jump a flight home like I would have been able to before the world changed. This has changed my feeling of being at ease over here. I was in love with being in Europe, it challenges and inspires me always, and that still exists, but the UK now has a very different relationship with the world after Brexit. I have two grandmothers from here, one born in Ireland, the other born in London. So some sort of ancestral voodoo definitely plays a part in the comfort I get from being in this part of the world. However, I do want my daughter, Paloma to know her family and our friends in NZ, so at some point we will return. Return to the amazing people and landscape of NZ, which really is like no other.
Find more of Jessica’s work here.
Follow her on Instagram here.