Pookie Blezard & Suzy Thompson creating at our desk. I'm wearing the photographer's jacket
Apart from a phase when I wanted to be Julie Andrews, I always knew I wanted to make things. It was assumed that I’d do something artistic. My parents, who were musicians, had a strong philosophy that you do what you are passionate about – whether it makes money or not. Feeling fed up I once said to my mum that I wanted to give up; horrified she said, “But this is what you do!!” (Although she did make me get a job cleaning our local church in the early days). I realise now this is not the norm for others, it was never considered I should do anything other than what I loved.
In my last year at school, when I didn’t know which course to follow, I visited our neighbour Francis Hoyland, (who taught painting at Camberwell) and he said instantly, “You look like a textile person” and I thought “Yeah”. So I applied to do a foundation course at Camberwell and got in, (fortunately the head of foundation was another neighbour - Barnes was jam-packed with artists and musicians in those days). I then went on to do the B.A. in Printed Textiles.
Though seemingly a random choice my Dad later told me our ancestors had been Huguenot silk weavers, hence our unusual surname, Blezard. So it was in my blood.
Camberwell was a unique textile course – so arty and free, the tutors were all real characters and artists rather than designers. We really got stuck in, sloshing around in wellies, making our own silk screens, boiling up huge vats of dye and generally causing mayhem. I think it took me most of the 3 years to understand the tutors’ ramblings but now I really appreciate being schooled in that sensibility.
Pookie Blezard & Suzy Thompson with our bikes. This photo is out of a Japanese Magazine
Whilst there I did a two month exchange with the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, and I found it all so dry and neat and tidy, arid. I got sucked into their way of thinking and I can remember the culture shock on arriving back at Camberwell and seeing piles of collages, block prints pinned up, buckets of paper pulp, dustbins full of pungent indigo. A lovely messy creative soup, it felt like I was home.
Sadly, soon after I left, the powers that be decided the department should be closed, unappreciative of the richness of a course that also produced the hugely successful and innovative designers Georgina von Etzdorf, Helen David of English Eccentrics, and Neisha Crossland.After leaving Camberwell all I knew was that I wanted to carry on producing fabric and after an extra extended study year at Camberwell (working one day a week as a motorbike despatch rider) I set up Pazuki with Suzy Thompson, a fellow Camberwell graduate.