‘ROLL OUT YOUR WOVEN CARPET AND I WILL GREET YOUR SOUL'S REFLECTION’
Turkmen Rug Weavers' proverb
Nestled within the heart of The Oriental Rug Gallery Ltd in Wey Hill, the 'Artisan Atelier' is a hive of creative activity. From within this inner sanctum, Sandre – the Rug Gallery's Decorative Artisan & Creative Director – applies a wide portfolio of professionally trained and self-taught decorative arts skills, textural mixed mediums and creative design disciplines, into an eclectic tapestry of award-winning skills and expertise that form the core fabric of the company.
As a quintessential British company, The Oriental Rug Gallery Ltd’s treasure~trove collections of hundreds of beautiful, hand-woven pieces are testament to Anas and Sandre’s expertise and all-embracing passion for weavings. A meticulously sourced display of sumptuous, authentic pieces await their customers' discovery, exploration and purchase, where they ultimately become the ‘valued custodians’ of these treasured pieces.
As Surrey's multi award-winning Rug Specialists, The Oriental Rug Gallery Ltd is also passionate in harnessing proprietors: Anas and Sandre's long-held creative visions: to help preserve Decorative Arts heritage and establish a philanthropic legacy of bequeathed decorative pieces. Their creating and producing of bespoke-crafted artisan works such as: The Haslemere Coat of Arms Rug Weaving – the UK’s first-ever hand-woven and rug-knotted coat of arms – crafted as a gift for Haslemere Town; and the Diamond Jubilee Embroidery Gift for the Queen, where a personal Royal Letter of Thanks was received from Her Majesty the Queen – expressing her praise and delight in the embroidery's creation by Sandre and Anas, are two of their proudest acheivements to date.
Encouraged and taught at an early age by her mother, grandmothers and great aunts, while surrounded by their inspirational decorative crafts, her father's innovative creations, and a magical children’s dressing-up-box – overflowing with vintage silk, beaded velvet gowns, satin and lace dresses, and decorative cast-offs – Sandre’s formative artistic expression was given textural wings, through a myriad of creative mediums.
During her girlhood, the techniques of embroidery, rug hooking, knitting, tapestry, applique, crewel work, tatting, crochet, needlework, felting, quilting, braiding, macramé, needlepoint, patchwork, bead-work, lace-making and decoupage, were all enthusiasticlly embraced, explored and expressed through a profusion of finished decorative pieces. Naturally drawn to expressing her creativity through a diverse array of artistic mediums, these esthetic skills laid the foundation for a passion-led journey and a life-long interest in decorative and creative arts.
Her artistic-led studies continued to develop and broaden at school, embracing life-drawing and still life, as well as line-drawing, ebru, caligraphy, etching and Art History, as part of her Art O- and A-Level studies syllabus. These artistic disciplines set her life compass on a path for studying Art and Creative Design at the next level.
After graduating from Art & Design College – having studied silk screening, batik dyeing, woven and embroidered textiles, graphics and set design, and broadening her Art History training, and now equipped with an eclectic creative design portfolio – Sandre went on to further her artistic studies with a picture-framing apprenticeship, while simultaneously working in an Art Gallery and volunteering class tutorials in art and craft skills at a community-based Arts Workshop.
Sandre’s passion for decorative rug and carpet weavings was initially inspired by studying the paintings of Hans Holbein, Jan Van Eyck, Hans Memling, Ghirlandaio and Lorenzo Lotto during her Art History training, whose intricately detailed depictions of rug weavings gave their compositions decorative depth and heart-felt meaning.
Brush strokes of continued influence include the Arts & Crafts Movement, the Pre-Raphaelites, Folk Art Costumes and the subsequent Peasant Arts Movement – founded in Haslemere, Surrey. While Art Noveau, the Aesthetic Movement, Botticelli, Klimt, Hokusai, Barbara Hepworth, the Impressionists, as well as the highly decorative Illuminated Manuscripts, Persian Minatures, Iznik and Azulejo tilework, Ottoman-period textiles, Venetian Brocades, French Toile, Chinoiserie and the Renaissance and Baroque art styles – all with their many creatively applied art mediums and varying techniques – have continually inspired Sandre to seek out new ways of expressing a creative and decorative art-led life journey.
Invitations from London--based Artist Guilds and Art Collectives in the 1980s, encouraged Sandre to move to the capital, with a focus on developing and expanding her creative endeavours. Further professional studies at Goldsmiths College and The Designers Guild produced a cornucopia of art & design journals, sketch pads, textile samples and finished wor using a diverse combination of decorative and artworked mediums.
Galvanised by the beautiful woven textural qualities and the complex arrangements of colours and motifs portrayed in Jacquard weavings, French Gobelins, Floral Karabachs and Flemish tapestries, Sandre explored yarn mediums and designs, in order to create loom-weaving templates and pattern samplers. A series of textile-rich pieces, off-set with a mixed-media of materials, were subsequently commissioned and produced as a range of 'feature backdrops' for London theatre sets and decor-styled photo shoots.
Visits to far-flung Rug and Carpet Bazaars, during travels across the globe, have given Sandre additional opportunities to study a variety of weaving and embroidery techniques and styles. Captivated by the diverse array of textiles and enchanted by their heirloom provenance and lost heritage, she wiles away the hours scouring bric-a-brac stalls, exploring French Brocantes and exotic Oriental Souqs, as well as visiting vintage fairs and flea markets, in search of long-lost decorative pieces and elusive hand-woven textiles, to add to her ever expanding ‘magpie trousseau’ collections of weavings and embroideries.
Exploring the ways in which decorative art, hand-crafted skills and creative design disciplines can be harmouniously blended into a fusion of applied mixed-mediums, has always remained at the core of Sandre's passion-led artisan journey in creative expression.
With the emergence of Apple Mac's computer-led graphic design tools, the potential to develop a broader creative design skills portfolio beckoned. Having garnered two City & Guilds and a clutch of Diplomas in Page Layout Design, Desktop Publishing, Copy Editing and Content Writing to further help her achieve this, Sandre then applied and honed these skills in working with London companies as diverse as The Institute of Contemporary Arts, Virgin Music, Readers Digest, The Inns of Court and Aromatherapy Quarterly.
In the 1990s, with further professional qualifications in a range of Creative Design-led mediums and techniques – reaped through studies at the London School of Printing & Design – a plethora of freelancer creative art and textural design-led assignments followed, including: The National Portrait Gallery, The Greenwich Maritime Museum with historian Dr David Starkey, The National Gallery, The Royal College of Physicians Medical Museum, The Royal Academy, The Design Museum, as well as 10 Downing Street, The Houses of Parliament, Earls Court, The Design Centre and Olympia, to name but a few.
Working within the design remits given, she created decoratively-themed art and museum gallery spaces and exhibitions from brief to finished display, while researching and archiving to produce an associated range of artwork including signage, banners, logos, display booklets and event programmes, exhibition catalogues and caption plaques. Her Behind-the-Scenes and ‘hands-on’ work involved sketching and designing layouts and arrangements for collection displays and the placing of curated and archived exhibits. The handling and displaying of Queen Elizabeth I's exquisitely decorated hunting gloves, a lustrous lock of Lord Bryon's hair wrapped in a delicate silk-embroidered pouch, and the unrolling of rare and antique finely-woven textile fragments for display; were just some of the many highlights these decorative art and creative design-led assignments involved.
Further creative artwork assignments included visual design specs for a portfolio of 'coffee table books' and an array of glossies for and including: Condé Nast, Phaidon Press, Macmillans, Haymarket Publishing, Financial Times, Trinity Media, Emap Espirit and The Jewish Chronicle; with multi-media desig works for: Virgin Net, Nature Net, the I&DeA and Informa Web Media; and the researching and writing of variously commissioned articles for a selection of magazines and websites.
In 2002, Sandre met her husband Anas through attending one of his antique rug lectures in London and being totally captivated by his in-depth specialist rug knowledge and mutually shared passion for all things hand-woven. Over the next few years, Sandre threaded her decorative artisan and creative design skills into the fabric of Anas' well established hand-woven Rugs, Oriental Carpets and Tapestries, London-based company, helping to broaden the customer base and expand the ranges of business.
A winning combination of specialist skllls, passion-led knowledge and years of expertise in their respective fields, laid the foundations for the proposed creation of The Oriental Rug Gallery Ltd ~ a unique, independent rug company that would showcase their hand-woven passions and talents in a series of show-stopping and dynamic ways.
In 2007, Sandre was nominated in three separate artwork and design categories for her creative-led works that demonstrated her abilities in a myriad of visual and textural art forms. In 2008, she was short-listed and then crowned ‘One in a Million’ – a nationally-recognised Award that was ceremonially presented at the Palace of Westminster.
“Winning the ‘One in A Million Award‘ is an honour and the recognition of a life-long creative-led journey, with the aim of inspiring and engaging the hearts and minds of individuals.”
Fascinated by the areas Arts and Crafts heritage and inspired by the spirit of the Peasant Arts tradition, whose artisan communities set-up workshops and weaving houses in Haslemere, with the aim of reviving and conserving hand-crafting techniques in England, and along with their Hugenot-weaving predecessors, Anas and Sandre moved to Wey Hill in Haslemere and established The Oriental Rug Gallery Ltd in 2007.
“We see ourselves as ‘Custodians of Rug Craftsmanship’ , where The Oriental Rug Gallery Ltd is a treasure-trove of opportunity for our customers to enrich their lives with traditional woven craftsmanship and enjoy the unique beauty and enduring legacy of these fabulous weavings, for years to come.”
The Oriental Rug Gallery Ltd was awarded a Haslemere Business Chamber Award in 2009 that displayed Anas and Sandre's passion for Haslemere, and led to Sandre being invited by Madam Mayor Cllr. Melanie Odell to join the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade and Commerce Committee – an proud honour, with a valued opportunity to volunteer her skills to help the Town and surrounding districts. Elected to join by the Committee, she served with Chamber Presidents: Simon Labrow and Melissa King during their terms in office.
Requested by the Chamber Committee, Sandre redesigned and further developed the monthly ‘StopPress’ Newsletter, where her original design format was in continual use until the Newsletter's demise in August 2013. She also created associated Chamber logo artwork and strap lines, while communicating with members, writing up and editing articles and news-bites for the newsletter and organising its subsequent distribution district-wide. The generated interest from Chamber members, saw the Newsletter increase from a one-page to a six-page production during this time. She also redesigned the Membership Pack, and created associated events flyers, as well as communicating with and writing various articles for the local press on behalf of the Chamber, to highlight Chamber events.
In 2010, requested by former Haslemere Mayor Cllrs. William and Carole King for ideas on a Shop & Community-based Scheme in the area, Sandre volunteered to formulate a ShopWatch Initiative. Her proposed remit was given full support by the Police, Haslemere Mayor Cllr. Melanie Odell and the Town Council, Haslemere Business Chamber, and the local Neighbourhood Watch and Residents' Associations. Here, she also applied her research and creative design skills to produce associated artwork.
Next, working closely with the local police throughout and accompanied by a Police Neighbourhood Specialist Officer, Sandre visited more than 69 shops and businesses in the area over a six-month period, in an endeavour to encourage more ongoing communication and co-operation between Haslemere shops, businesses and neighbourhoods. Liaising with Councillors, local services, Haslemere Chamber Committee and its members, neighbourhood groups and residents alike, she compiled information and formulated a pilot scheme to help move the Initiative forwards, which developed into a broader, district-wide ShopWatch Initiative remit that was highlighted for a Home Office CCF grant. Although the grant was utilised elsewhere, this remit helped to lay the foundation for more cross-communication and co-operation within the local community.
As a voluntary member of the former Haslemere May Fayre at Lion Green Committee that also combined the Classic Car Show, and which spear-headed the formulation of the Haslemere Fringe Festival and the Proms in the Park events now held annually on Lion Green, Sandre and Anas have also supported Wey Hill in Bloom; are rug conservers for St Christopher’s Church in Wey Hill – to help preserve its exemplary Art and Crafts and Peasant Arts interior; as well as being a Sponsor for a Curated Artefact and Corporate Patrons for Haslemere Educational Museum; and supporters of Haslemere Town Hall and Haslemere Festival.