Verve talks to Gemma Jackson, Emmy Award-winning production designer of the ever-popular Game of Thrones. Gemma, who was also the production designer for Bridget Jones’s Diary and the Academy Award-nominated art director of Finding Neverland, shares with us where she finds inspiration along with a few of her favourite things. She also lets us in on her special connection to New Zealand.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am trying to take a break! However my most recent job was designing Knights of the Round Table: Arthur, which is directed by Guy Ritchie and wonderfully epic in scale! In the next few months I have some additional photography to complete.
What are you most looking forward for the rest of this year?
Spending adventure time with my husband Andrew McAlpine, a New Zealander who is also a production designer! Shortly, we are heading over to the Cabo de Gata in the southeast of Spain which we love for the blue skies, the azure seas and the tall stately aloes growing out of the most magical desert. We have had an apartment there for many years.
What do you do in your leisure time?
My leisure time is precious as the film industry is all-consuming!
Both Andrew and I practice yoga and I love to find teachers wherever I am in the world. I have been doing it for many years and it really does keep both my body and soul focused on what is important. I also enjoy going to the theatre and watching captivating movies. I am an artist and I need to know who is out there at exhibitions. And then, because I am a story teller, I search and sift museums, markets, junk shops and galleries.
From where do you draw inspiration?
Anything and everything, but I feel particularly inspired by textures and colours of different regions of India. Additionally, I find myself looking at early renaissance Italian paintings for the extraordinary colour combinations. I am fascinated by how human beings have lived and survived over the centuries. The old Kowloon in Hong Kong held huge secrets for me.
Favourite space in your home?
I share a study with Andrew and it is a space which has to fit so many job titles! We each have a desk with our personal stuff. The walls are lined with our huge collection of books. Additionally I have my piano there, a section of wooden floor for our yoga practice and a niche for a spare bed. My picture shows my desk.
Favourite café in your city?
A flat white in The Providores on Marylebone High Street is one of my favourites café breaks.
Favourite hidden gem in London?
There are few hidden gems as such left in London! It is a beautiful city with so many nooks and crannies opened and exploited. We live near Little Venice which connects with the canal network across London and out into the English countryside. I love these canals and I love to go on a long boat which potters along in the water so slowly making the world fly past all around.
My favourite recipe is for a Goan fish curry. Absolutely delicious and a sure winner with all my friends give or take the amount of chilli I use!
There are so many fabulous designers! I buy Haat clothes which are a part of Isseye Miyake. I admire the production designer Stuart Craig unreservedly. And for costumes it has to be Michele Clapton who did the costumes for Game of Thrones.
Favourite place for a holiday?
I find the world constantly fascinating and inspiring. Holidays can be tough to fit in with two working peoples hectic agendas. We love heading off to our apartment in southern Spain which I know so well and am instantly relaxed there. But I also love heading off to the foothills of the Himalayas where I have been for yoga retreats many times over the years. Then I love to explore parts of India and the rest of Asia new to me. I enjoy the mysteries of European cities such as Rome, Paris and Amsterdam. I have spent time in Croatia which was such a tightly held secret but revealed so much beauty there! And I would never turn down a chance to play or work in Morocco and experience once again driving across the Atlas mountains in the pink dawn.
I must add that I have also had some incredible holidays in beautiful New Zealand.
Favourite project you have worked on?
A favourite project is a tough one as I sincerely enjoy every project I work on in one way or another. I enjoy the design process and then really love the building, the plastering/texturing and painting. I am fascinated by colour and form and finding that particular jade green armchair to put in front of the burnt cracked wall is a constant passion and indeed a drug to me.
Favourite part of your job?
If life is a journey then each film or TV series I design is its own particular extraordinary journey!