Explore the following article from designer, Jess Lea-Wilson, who talks about living beside the Menai Strait, her love of the coastal landscape of Anglesey, and her characterful series of prints focusing on her favourite places on the island. 

I have been lucky enough to live in a few places over the past thirty years - a handful of years in Nottingham, London full time for longer, even New York city for a romantic spell - but one small island right on the northern edge of Wales has always, and will always, remain my home.

 

Ynys Môn is characterised by storybook coastlines, seemingly endless dunes, green green grass, and, perhaps most importantly for my family, who make sea salt, incredible, clean seas. The isle of Anglesey has the most beautiful combination of mountain and sea views, looking out as it does over Snowdonia, separated only by a thin stretch of water called the Menai Strait.  

My very favourite spots are always the ones where the landscapes feature beautiful, simple buildings or structures - a child’s drawing of a lighthouse, an old working windmill, a tiny, ancient church. 

 

The cottage I live in much of the time sits almost underneath the suspension bridge which connects us to the mainland. Lying in bed on a Sunday I can watch boats go by and fisher men set up their kit right on the rocky edges. Every morning before work I wander down with my dog, Jolene, and listen to the rush of the sea. On a warm day, the sea side scents rush in, good or bad, through the windows of the kitchen.

I split my time between Anglesey and London for my work - which makes me a. feel like a true Milennial and b. appreciate each place even more. It also heavily influences my design. Inevitably I am drawn to the landscape of Wales, but inspired by cutting edge Hackney, too. 

 

My latest prints are bold, colourful designs that celebrate simple shapes, coastlines and forms. Graphic design makes up a lot of my day job, so to draw and create my own personal projects, where I can choose every element of the pictures, feels like such a treat. I love using collage as a technique, often literally cutting and sticking for hours until I find a combination I like.

Llanddwyn island is perched on the end of the idyllic beach, Newborough, and is home to a picture-perfect lighthouse, with the backdrop of Snowdonia and a romantic saint’s tale of love and loss at its heart. It’s the walk we do each Christmas day every year, with plenty of walks in the months in between.

Melin Llynon is a recently restored windmill in an exposed part of the island. It’s hard not to be inspired by the history of the site when you visit.

South Stack, a lighthouse on the North West edge of the island, is wild, windy and looks like something from a movie. 

The Menai Bridge is of such local importance that the town it joins to the mainland is named after it – in Welsh ‘Porthaethwy’.

Puffin island is another worth a special trip – best seen by boat. The lighthouse still chimes very sweetly, and though there are less than there were, it is still home to pairs of the beautiful black and white birds.

Coastal Collages

Designs & Words by Jess Lea-Wilson | @smallislandbigcity

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