amy exton and presley the cockapoo
When my friend Kirsty - the very Kirsty that took these amazing pictures - informed me of the Margate Location House, I HAD to check it out for myself. Kirsty told me it was a sight to behold. That it was like the inside of her mind in actual reality. That I would love it beyond anything I've ever loved before. That Amy, the artist, curator and owner of said location house is a walking, talking genius.
And Kirsty wasn't wrong. The unassuming off-white house in a quiet residential square in the middle of Margate opens up to be an insane, psychedelic mishmash of coloured walls, doors and rooms. In fact, anything you can see or touch in this house is painted a different colour. And Amy, with deep red hair, bright red toe nails and a blue leopard print shirt, is the Picasso of this house. The house that has been used by the likes of Disney, Lazy Oaf, Benefit Cosmetics and many more.
See more from the house, meet Presley, and hear from Amy below.
Words: Simon Glazin Photos: Kirsty Merrett
On life with Presley: I know it’s a proper cliché, but Pres really is my best mate. Margate’s really dog friendly, so I take him everywhere with me - work, dinner, parties. He has his moments when he’s naughty, but in general he’s really really chill, so he’s easy company and he’s really funny as well (probably unintentionally, but he does have a cheeky little glint in is eye, so you never know).
I’ve always wanted a dog but was always talked out of it. I looked after my mates' poodle for a month while she was on holiday and when I gave him back I really missed him, so I impulsively decided to get my own. It definitely wasn’t a clever move, especially not when he was a naughty puppy, but he makes me happy and it gives me a real sense of responsibility knowing I need to take care of him. He has brought out my nurturing side and his beautiful little soul makes everything right in the world.
On work: I started out as a set designer (mainly for fashion and music videos) but have always wanted to get into interior design. Again, on a whim, I decided to relocate to Margate, renovate my house and hire it out as a location house. The project combined set and interior design, and it has had an incredible response, which has proved to me that I’ve got what it takes to pursue a career in interiors. So that’s what I’m doing now.
On career plan B: I always have a plan B career, just incase, and it constantly changes. Last month it was herbal therapist, this month electrician (just because I re-wired a ceiling light without electrocuting myself), who know’s what it’ll be next. When I first graduated I worked temporarily as a copywriter – it was only two days a week but I absolutely dreaded it. It taught me that an office job wasn’t for me, I need freedom to work in my own time
On 'the house': It has taken me the past two years to do it up, much longer than anticipated but I’ve done most of the work myself, so I do have a real sense of achievement. My work (first as a fine artist and then set design) has always been fun and full of colour, so it seemed natural to go down the same route with my interior design. A lot of the set design work I had leading up to getting the house was very commercial and uncreative – with the house I didn’t have a brief and had no one to answer to, so I just went mad with it.
We’ve had far more shoots so far than I expected, which is great. It’s mainly fashion shoots and music videos, and we’ve had a couple of TV commercials too. We’ve had rap, grime, rock and pop videos so a real mixed bag. It’s interesting seeing how people put their own swing on the house, and seeing what people get up to. I came home once to three naked men in the bath swinging around a dead fish, as you do.
"my absolute favourite thing is cuddling up with him on the sofa. he watches true-crime documentaries with me."
On her daily routine: Pres sleeps in my bed (little spoon, head on pillow, don’t judge) so he’s the first thing I see every morning. When I first got Pres he woke me up really early every day, he was a good little alarm clock. He’s far lazier now he’s grown-up so he tends to sleep until I get up - not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. I always start the day by walking him on the beach, come home for a coffee with my housemate Siobhan, and then crack on with whatever projects I have on. The pace of life down here in Margate is much slower than in London, particularly in the summer, so if it’s a particularly hot day, that morning walk might turn into a day on the beach. I’ve learnt to dedicate a bit more time to chilling out since being down here and get a better work-life balance.
On career advice: I’m still finding my feet myself so that’s a tricky one. I would say that if you really want it, just power through and never give up (another cliché but it’s true). You tend to have periods when work’s going great, and you think you’ve made it, but then it all goes quiet again. That can be pretty disheartening. Sometimes it’s hard finding the motivation to power through those quiet times – occasionally it all gets on top of you and you feel like giving it all up and doing something easier and more reliable (Plan B). But if you stay positive and keep on working through those times -reaching out to people in the industry, creating your own projects - it all sorts itself out in the end.
I think it’s really important that people are open and honest about it though. Lots of people pretend they’re doing better than they are, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (PMA and all that) but it also gives a false impression and plays down the struggle of being successful in the creative industries. Everyone goes through the same problems (lack of work, difficult clients, not getting paid) at some time or another, and I do think it’s really important to be open about it. I’m very lucky that I’m surrounded by a lot of supportive people who get it – we have faith in each others talents, support each other and don’t let each other give up.
Also, a big one: clients can be real assholes. Try not to take it personally and use it to push yourself further instead, it’s the best kind of revenge. No easy feat but can be empowering if you channel all that negativity the right way – something I’ve only just learnt myself after a lot of sleepless nights.
Best piece advice she has been given: You’re in no position to get a dog.
On her favourite 'tail' about Presley: When we first moved down to Margate, me and Siobhan, my housemate, went to the 1st birthday party of a local restaurant. Someone bought out a cake, the whole room started singing happy birthday, and Presley started parading around the room, wagging his tail and going up to everyone one by one. He thought they were all singing to him. It was brilliant. He’s a real character and provides endless entertainment, but he’s also really affectionate, and my absolute favourite thing is cuddling up with him on the sofa (he watches true-crime documentaries with me).
On her favourite things to do in Margate: Margate’s a really sociable place, there’s always people about, and there usually tend to be people around the house too which is nice. In the summer is has to be hanging out on the beach with the dogs (lots of my mates down here have dogs too) or having a beer and watching the sunset.
One thing people should know: I’m obsessed with Elvis Presley. I wrote my dissertation on him and went on a sort of Elvis pilgrimage around America as part of my research. I’ve been a weird fan ever since.