a little bit about us the

the people behind Tilly Ba Lou 


Tilly Ba Lou was the brainchild of Denise Patton. Upon leaving school Denise embarked on a career at Kendal Milne in Manchester as a Trainee Buyer. From this she moved on to Merchandising within the same store, before deciding upon a career change and joining a multi national company to try her hand at office work.

14 years later and having worked her way up to middle management level Denise made the decision to branch out alone. Having always had a love of art she took the brave leap of faith into the great unknown, opening a gallery/gift shop in a Manchester suburb. It was here that she met the other half of Tilly Ba Lou, her now life and business partner, Brian Newman.

When the couple met, Brian had just himself embarked on a new business venture with his Brother, Mark.  The business was the design and manufacture of wrought iron furniture. They had read about Denise's gallery in a double page feature in the Manchester Evening News and brought along a couple of pieces of their furniture to see if Denise felt it would fit in with the design ethos of the gallery. Indeed it did and Newman & Newman wrought iron furniture, coupled with Denise's eye and natural flair for design, won the gallery the accolade, "City Life Magazine" design store of the year in 1997.

Gradually the store shifted organically from a gallery and into a design led interiors store and during this period, as part of a contract to interior design a brand new club in Manchester's popular gay village, Denise plucked up the courage to embark on her first attempts at commercial art. It was at this point that Tilly Ba Lou was born. Being unsure of her artistic capability, Denise created the name Tilly Ba Lou, behind which to hide. The paintings were a huge success and so she painted more and more for her own store. The paintings continued to sell and some for hundreds of pounds.

Denise's style was somewhat unique and the use of wire featured very heavily, along with often very poignant words and flowers and the realms of angels and fairies were her main subject matter.  The recurring presence of metal wires which ran through Denise's work was symbolic of the restraints and shackles of society, coupled with the protection, however unpleasant, these restraints provide.

By the time the opening of the nearby Trafford Centre had eventually taken its toll on the area, Mark had already left to return to an office based career.  As Denise and Brian watched store after store closing down in the area, the two decided it was time to radically re-think their businesses. Brian had already begun his Ibis & Oberon bird sculpture business and Denise had started producing hand made cards and mirrors, again using the name Tilly Ba Lou. They decided to take some of their products to various florists and design stores in the area and on their first trip out they came back with over a months worth of orders from around 20 stores … and the rest as they say is history.

Denise' work and designs naturally followed the flow of her commercial artwork and again the use of wire features heavily.   As the key designer for Tilly Ba Lou, Denise is influenced by many things not least a love of flowers, interior design and of course wire !!!!! ... more on inspirations ...


  © Denise Patton Tilly Ba Lou