October 18, 2023


Schooled on the Isle of Mull surrounded by seascapes and raised on the cusp of the Yorkshire Dales in Ripon, England’s oldest city, Sasha Compton’s illustrative hand is one informed by the imperfect beauty of the natural world that embraced her childhood. A painter and illustrator, her work is freehand, full of classical references from Roman art and Delft influence to colour and playful Bloomsbury notes. 


Joyous Expressions is a twelve-strong collection of tiles, created exclusively for Ca’ Pietra. Ten of them are 13x13cm wall tiles, fired in Wiltshire. While two of them are 22.5 x 22.5cm tiles and porcelain, meaning they can be used on walls and floors. 

A blend of all that inspires Sasha most of all, she describes the overall story of the collection as being more of a feeling than a style – the emotion you experience when you’re in a completely content state of flow. A little romantic and coloured with never-ending sunsets and oceans in mind, the tiles can be combined to be as playful as you please. An artist’s impression of heritage and the wholesome draw of Mother Nature. 


This summer, we announced our new Artist in Residence campaign where we’ll be inviting a British painters, illustrators, collage-creators and more to collaborate with us on an exclusive tile capsule collection. The first artist with whom we’re joining hands? Classical-meets-contemporary, colour-loving, nature-inspired creative, Sasha Compton and her FABulous free-flowing hand. 

Q: Tell us first, what’s your story? Where did art first find you?

A: “As a child I was surrounded by three main things nature, history, and love. And they’re what come through my work more than anything else – and colour. My mum restored antiques so Roman busts were always around, and growing up close to the Yorkshire Dales meant that I was always surrounded by nature. I went to school on the Isle of Mull too which is why I find myself drawing motifs or leaning into palettes that reflect seascapes. The first loves you have as a child really stay with you, I think.”

Q: What about home now? Does that inspire your work?

A: “Definitely. London has such a “buzz”. I also lived in Amsterdam for four years after art school and my time there really informs some of my work. Amsterdam isn’t like Portugal where the use of tiles is all over, it’s subtler, but their use of Delft tiling is what I found especially beautiful. The city of Delft is only an hour or so from Amsterdam and so I spent some time there or wandering around Rembrandt’s house taking in the fireplaces edged with delft and all the little scenes painted on them. The palette and the detail of Delft is definitely one of the later elements of inspiration for me.” 

Q:  What have been some of your most exciting commissions to date? (Aside from ours of course!)

A: “I’ve been so lucky to have had many great projects come my way; I’m so grateful for all of them. From designing lampshades with Martin Brudnizki to being one of the seven artists chosen by The Elephant Family for their Eggs of an Era campaign for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (which was then exhibited by Faberge! ) and creating art for the beautiful Thyme in Oxfordshire – there’ve been some truly wonderful commissions.”

Q: A defining feature of your art is your free hand. Have you always drawn in that way?

A: “I remember at school having a teacher who taught us that it’s ok to paint imperfectly, and that was the first moment I remember feeling I’d found my stye. I always loved how Picasso painted traditionally but with abstract lines and colours, and was drawn to works by Matisse, Hockney and contemporary artists like Grayson Perry. I loved the freedom and naivety of imperfection and the combination of that approach with classical references, looking to the Greeks and the Romans. Nothing is really ever new, everything has been explored before, but it’s the freedom of your hand and your unique perspective that lets the unexpected happen.”

Q: You paint a lot with ceramics – what’s your process for creating art on pottery be it porcelain or ceramic?

A: “I always start with hand-drawn sketches in my notebook using water colours or crayons. I remember at university [Sasha studied illustration at the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s in London] everyone would be drawing digitally but I’ve always been about the hand. From here I draw directly onto the tile, the plate, or whatever it might be, gradually building up layers of paint to achieve just the right amount of depth and texture.”

Q: Where did the idea for your Ca’ Pietra capsule come from?

A: “All of my work fundamentally comes back to those three childhood references – history, nature and expressions of love or happiness. Within each of the ten tiles that make up the Joyous Expressions collection, you’ll see elements of those things. Whether it’s the flowers and sprigs of the Blossom tiles, the jug illustrations [the one in the Iris tile is inspired by the jug in Matisse’s Still Life with Seashell on Black Marble while the others are impressions of those owned by her mum] or the balance of romance and serenity of the palettes that reflect sunset and the sea, the collection is a mirror to my main muses.”

Q:  How did you picture the tiles being used as you created them?

A: “I loved thinking of them being used as a big mixture. Not the colours necessarily; I personally think the palettes look nicer used separately, but a pattern combination would look so fun – such as Amphora, Athenium, Iris, Lyra, Seaward and Coral all jumbled on a splashback. Laid on their own would be just as lovely, like Sunset on a bathroom floor with a ruffled red shower curtain or Aurora as a floor in a wet room shower. I think Blossom is really pretty as a border too.”

Q:  If you had to pick just one of the tiles to have in your home, which would it be?

A: “I’d pick the Blossom tiles in either colourway and have them in my kitchen in a little row with a simple white field tile elsewhere.”

Q:  And finally, if you had to summarise the capsule in a sentence, how would you describe it?

A: “I’d say it’s more of a feeling than a style – the emotion you experience when you’re in a completely content state of flow.”

Shop the full Sasha Compton x Ca’ Pietra collection here