People often ask about my inspirations and how I developed @the14thfactory. This is my story...
I’m Simon Birch (...the artist, not the little guy from the movie of the same name!).
I come from a humble background, relative to UK standards (so far better off than much of the world) and have very little now but have had many adventures along the way and am super grateful. I never set out to be an artist but I am one now and it's been an unusual journey and perhaps it's just getting started.
Half of my family were Polish refugees having had awful Nazi experiences. The other half were Armenian exiles, escaping genocide.
I’m named after my great-great-grandfather, Sopon Bezirdjian, he changed the name to Birch. He was a famous architect/designer before he was forced to give it all up. At 19 he started designing mosques for the Sultan in Istanbul but the tensions between the Turks and Armenians forced him to leave with his wife, the leading Armenian actress of the time, Arousiag Papazian. He lived in Paris and Manchester but my dad grew up in Beirut.
Crazy how our identities are so complex but it always reminds me that diverse backgrounds connect you to just about anyone and that's a good thing.
Sopon also painted and some of his illustrations are now in the archives at the V&A in London. Here are some of his work with his signature, my great grandfather, grandfather and grandma holding my dad: