ISSUE 40  |  The DIY Mudroom

Garden Visit: At Home with Erica Van Horn in the Irish Countryside

March 17, 2016 6:00 AM

BY Jane Potrykus

Wandering the stalls at London’s Small Publishers Fair a few months ago, I came across the work of writer and illustrator Erica Van Horn and her partner, poet Simon Cutts. Together they run Coracle Press from their small farm in southern Ireland. As I perused the Coracle table, I was instantly drawn to the way Van Horn’s minimalist line drawings convey so much emotion.

Her recently published book, Living Locally (£12 via Uniformbooks), is a compendium of five years of journal entries detailing her life in Ireland. Van Horn’s ability to turn a phrase makes reading the diary a delight. Keen observations and insights render the most quotidian of activities riveting. Racing through her entries, I took note of how her many walks with Em, her beloved dog, helped connect her to her community and surroundings (and I made plans to be more aware during my own outings with the dog).

I’m an American who recently moved to London, experiencing anxiety about finding my way as an expat. So when I learned that Van Horn is also an American expat (now an Irish citizen), I needed the story to continue. Thankfully, she invited us to Ireland to see her garden:

Photography by Rincy Koshy for Gardenista, except where noted.


Above: Van Horn and Cutts make their home on what was once a small farm in South Tipperary. Pictured above is the property’s Book Barn. While the building once held animals and hay, now it is filled with the necessary tools for the two artists to pursue a life devoted to all things paper. The space holds a large work table as well as shelving and cupboards to store the requisite supplies.

An outdoor seating area looks over the foothills of Ireland’s Comeragh Mountains. The Book Barn’s stone steps lead to a mezzanine level where more paper is stored, and on occasion, the space serves as a guest bedroom.


Above: The white printing shed holds drawers of metal type, as well as a small Adana printing press. (A large wild fuschia, lovingly transplanted by Van Horn and Cutts, adds a bit of red to the verdant surroundings.)


Above: A utilitarian corner of the property includes a lean-to for firewood, a potting bench, clothesline, and of course, the view.


Above: A bit of Cutts’ poetry stenciled on to the main house’s wall. 


Above: Hanging rusted objects serve as inspiration for many of Van Horn’s drawings.


Above L: An homage to the couple’s beloved dog Em, a sheepdog mix who died in late August (Van Horn and Cutts are missing her terribly). Above R: A photo of Em, courtesy of Van Horn. Stories from Van Horn and Em’s walks were a central part of Living Locally.


Above: An abundance of late-summer wildflowers nearly obscures the view of the printing shed.


Above: Even when it’s raining (a frequent occurrence in Ireland), the view from the Book Barn reminds you of nature.


Above: Lavender grows in abundance. 

Want to see more from Ireland? Take a hike up Galway’s Diamond Hill, or for outdoor room inspiration, check out the 2013 Considered Design Award Winner For Best Outdoor Room.