'What is your inspiration?'
Otherwise known as… MY FIRST EVER BLOG POST! YAY!
Welcome to this new adventure that I’m jumping into in 2019. Last year I started my mailing list (which hopefully you’ve all signed up to! If not, don’t worry, there are lots of links to do so all over my website). This year I decided to stretch my writing fingers a bit more to start a blog and I know, I know, I’m about 15 years late to the blogosphere but better late than never, right?
I thought this first post should be something inspiring to get me going at the start of this new year, so I’m going to be answering the one question that I get asked most often - What is my inspiration? Which I generally interpret as ‘Where do all these crazy monsters come from?’. Well, if you head over to the ABOUT page of this website you can read a bit about how I started making monsters in the first place. This post is going to be more about what keeps my ideas and inspiration going, what helps me focus on what I’m really about and what all of my work always come back to in the end. And as cliché as it sounds, my biggest inspiration has always been nature.
My family is big on walking, which I think is probably because we have always lived in the city and, as much as we love it here, sometimes you just need to get out, find somewhere quiet, peaceful and breathe some fresh air. We always try to begin each new year with a 3-4 hour walk out in the hills. This year we walked up Kinder Scout in the Peak District and it was incredible. It was very hard work and we took some strange routes, which left me hurting for a few days afterwards, but it also breathed new life into me in a way nothing else could.
Walking across fields, up mountains or through forests I can always see my earthy, unruly, strange, beautiful monsters around me. I design and make them organically, letting go of control and letting the clay lead the way. So it’s pretty clear to me that they come from the earth, like the clay they’re made from and that out in the wild is where they’re most at home.
Even the glazes I use to colour my monsters are chosen because they remind me of the hills. Most of my work only uses one glaze which was advertised just as a blue but which I soon discovered had much more potential. By changing how I mix, apply and fire this glaze I can get a range of earthy tones and colours from a dark, moody, typical English sky blue to a deep, mysterious forest green, with many shades in-between. But it’s not an exact science and I love that! There always comes a point where I’m letting go of control and letting the glaze do its thing and what will be, will be.
You will rarely find post-box red or neon pink in my work because that’s just not what I’m about. But I am trying to introduce a new colour into my work this year – purple! A lot of you will probably think that’s a bit of a weird choice considering everything I’ve just said about being natural and organic and maybe Barney-the-terrifying-purple-dinosaur-thing just came to mind. But it’s not a bright, brash, giant-dinosaur kind of purple that I’m after, it’s the darker, earthier purple that you find in the heather across the Peak District. I love walking and even driving through and seeing that first pop of purple that spreads like wildfire across the hills. I think monsters with splashes of heather-purple across them would be like the breath of fresh air that pulls me to the hills.
I think that gives you a pretty good idea what I’m aiming for with my work as well – to bring a little freedom, a little quirky, organic beauty, quite a bit of joy and a breathe of fresh air into people’s lives.
If you’d like to follow my progress with heathery-monsters this year you can follow me on social media and/or subscribe to my mailing list (both of which can be done below). I’d love to hear what you think of this post – am I the only one who walks through the countyside feeling like a Hobbit, Lara Croft and John Keats all at the same time?
Let me know!