Had Adele Neil followed her childhood ambition, she’d currently be yelling at reluctant schoolgirls on a rainsoaked hockey pitch in her native Aberdeenshire.
fate intervened when her new art teacher, the renowned sculptor, Ian MacKintosh, spotted her creative talents and encouraged her to head in a new direction.
After developing her artistic talents at the Mearns Academy Adele went on to complete a BA Hons in Design at Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee. During that time, she entered a design competition run by advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi and was awarded a commendation before going on to work for a graphic design agency at the end of her degree, specialising in corporate identity and product packaging.
When a recession in the oil industry had a knock on effect in the Aberdeenshire business community, Adele spread her wings and moved to Madrid to explore pastures new. A chance conversation led to her being offered a job providing art direction to technical colleagues in a post production company working within TV espaniol. This in turn lead o being part of the production team creating a TV Series called El Arte del Video and anthology of video art.
That role exposed her to lots of design influences from a wide variety of projects spanning many countries of the world and when she later moved back to Scotland she brought with her those influences and a new found confidence which earned her high regard in many roles, including commercial producer for local TV , interior design and designing of props and merchandising in the high end fashion market.
With the growth in the nightclub scene in the 1990s, Adele’s new found 3 dimensional design skills became more in demand. Designing and producing large scale props and scenery for the clubs which transformed the look for one night only and then moving them to other clubs as was the style at that time. This allowed her to explore a wilder side of her artistic abilities and gave her experience of larger scale design and construction. Accolade at the SECC Clothes show for the props used in one of the exhibition stands.
Responding to her wanderlust once more, Adele moved to Athens in 1996 and soon found an outlet for her talents designing and making mirror frames from recycled materials and found objects. At one time she had the honour of her pieces sitting alongside works by Philip Starke in an upscale interiors store.
During this time Adele started to creatively recycle furniture pieces and learn new paint techniques. Working for another Scottish Designer they reused the transformed furniture to create unique and interesting stands for clients to exhibit their products at trade fairs and exhibitions.
Adele became a self-confessed Womble – rummaging around and finding discarded items to turn into works of art. Anything from old furniture to roof tiles was reclaimed and redesigned and then used to transform cafe bars and shops.
Returning to Scotland in the year 2000 she continued her Wombling. A kitchen makeover project she completed was given an honorable mention by Colin and Justin in a competiton called Scottish Stylish Spaces run by The Scotland on Sunday.
The mirrors that had proved so popular in Greece soon gained popularity in Scotland and Adele was able to start selling them through local independent galleries. In honour of her roots, she created a ‘Braveheart’ collection incorporating hessian, studs and shield-like shapes to her mirrors.
The wandering spirit soon got the better of her again and Adele ventured off on an extended holiday to Thailand where she realised that she prefered it to the rat race back home. The holiday soon turned into a seven year adventure around S E Asia during which time she renovated a dive resort in Indonesia among many other projects. Long periods were spent travelling in a traditional dug out canoe around over 150 islands where Adele soaked up even more international and ethnic influences as well as discovering a talent for carving as a way to wile away the long hours afloat.
Adele developed a fascination with both nature and the remnants of human development. Her current works echo both these aspects with the wide use of natural materials and drawing elements from nature such as leaf and bark patterns. The effects of light playing through trees can be seen in some of the motifs Adele uses. The worn out paint of old buildings, where the history of the place and its occupants are revealed through the many layers are recreated in the distressed paint effects seen in so many of Adele’s pieces.
In 2008 Adele moved to Cyprus in search of the sun and the outdoor life she had enjoyed in Indonesia It was a logical choice as she had family here and already spoke Greek from her time in Athens. She quickly found employment as the visual merchandising manager for Marks & Spencer. The position gave an ideal outlet for previously learned skills in design, merchandising and use of colour and also allowed her some travel back to the UK to study with other VM before returning and implementing new skills. While it seemed like a terrific opportunity, she was increasingly restricted in what she could do and had lost an outlet for her self expression.
So in 2012, Adele resigned from M & S and decided to return to her true calling – to be hands on creative and close to nature.
She now spends her time doing a mixture of private commissions and speculative furniture pieces for sale as well as being an artist.
More recently “house doctoring” for clients who would like a revamp of their homes using the furniture available but giving a new fresh look.
Her passion is bringing new attitude to old furniture, seeing the beauty where others don’t and transforming yesterday’s trash into tomorrow’s treasure. her skills as a visual merchandiser and stylist also proves valuable to clients who would like their properties to sell faster or gain more interest in the rental market