Pookie's bicycle in the garden
Everywhere…….just looking out of the window at my garden right now, the rusty old bike with a wire shopping basket on the back, leaning up against the apple tree and dandelions growing out of the path.
I’ve always loved juxtapositions and contrasts that are unusual and quirky, coarse against smooth, precious against rough.
I think it all started at college (Camberwell School of Art and Crafts). My favourite print for my degree was of crocodiles whose mouths were tied up with stripy ribbons, I even had a screen made up that was just for printing the crocodile’s teeth, soft against spiky and scaly.
The best inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places; train journeys are mesmerising, all the colours whizzing past, telegraph poles, goods yards, trees, streaks of bright yellow rape seed fields.
My work has developed hugely over the years. I used to painstakingly draw everything and now with the digital revolution everything has speeded up and become more photographic. Anything is possible now - too much in a way - it’s easy to forget the beauty of simplicity. I love the sophisticated aesthetic of Japan - I spent 3 weeks there in the late 80s and it had a huge effect, the subtlety of colour they use and the stylisation of nature.
Travel is very important, even if it’s just getting on the train to Waterloo! It jiggles everything, seeing the unfamiliar.
Pookie in Arizona
Now I take trips deliberately to look for new ideas. The current summer collection was inspired by a trip to Arizona, the extraordinary plants and vast spaces, the Grand Canyon and the open road. Winter 2012 it was Paris, but the un-obvious things, the underbelly of the city, often the seedier side, neon lights in Pigalle, floating bottles and leaves in a fountain, layers of stickers on lamp posts, graffiti.
A weekend in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, was inspiration for another summer collection. As a townie, it was totally not how I imagined the seaside to be. It had a beautiful bleached out simplicity and many unusual, not obviously pretty, things - the beauty of a thorny bush on a pebble beach, peeling paint on the side of a boat.
Sometimes it’s a risk, working in this way. “Occupy” – inspired by the protestors at St. Pauls, their amazing hand painted banners, knitwear, tents and alternative lifestyle - was not a success with UK stores but ended up being my bestseller as it sold really well in Japan, and surprisingly, Belgium.
When I was studying at Camberwell the tutors would go into ecstasy about things like torn posters. I can remember carefully working on my 10 screen fabulous (I thought) print onto pinned out silk and being so happy when a tutor came across to admire my work. “Beautiful”, he said with a look of rapture. He was referring to the places where the print had gone onto the backing cloth over faded out layers of other prints and blobs of dye. I now appreciate what he was showing me.
Pookie's Crocodile Print Camberwell School of Art and Crafts
Pookie on the beach in Aldebrugh, Suffolk