For the Love of Nature Posted on 29 Mar 13:30
For as long as I can remember, my imagination has been totally captured by nature and the countryside, (despite never actually living in it) and it will always have a huge influence on my work.
As a child I loved looking at nature books before I was able to read them, going to the garden centre was a fun day out, and I would spend hours collecting shells on trips to the French Coast (my mum is French). I kept tiny snails temporarily as pets in an elaborate home I had constructed for them, and remember aged 11 or 12 walking home from school and buying myself a hyacinth plant from the local greengrocers; they are still one of my favourites but looking back, I don't think many children my age saw fit to spend their pocket money on perennial plants.
Picture books which depicted the countryside were also a constant source of wonder for me, and before I had really experienced much of it myself they provided endless inspiration for my childhood drawings - I spent A LOT of time drawing. Even an illustrated puzzle we had, of some mice playing in the garden of a thatched cottage, played a role in my decision that when I grew up I wanted to live in cottage with roses growing up the walls (this hasn't quite happened, maybe one day!) and many of my drawings consisted of cosy, country scenes. I pretty much wanted to live in Brambley Hedge or by The Riverbank with Ratty and Mole!
Below are illustrations from some of my favourite picture books set in the countryside. (The Lovely Present, Maurice Sendak; Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Graham, illustrated by Inga Moore; The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge, Jill Barklem).
Naturally, my love of nature regularly surfaces in my work. Peonies were my favourite garden flower as a child so I happily included them in my Thumbelina - a fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen - inspired children's wallpaper, along with fritillaries (and more) which featured in a botanical colouring book I was given, many years before I saw some in reality at a Royal Horticultural Society show. Renn Designs Big Cats wallpaper is full of tropical plants I have seen on my many visits to the wonderful Kew Gardens.
While working in a book shop a few years ago, I bought a battered book in the sale for 99p called The Sky and the amazing Northern Lights photographs inspired me to create my Northern Lights children's wallpaper, in which I wanted to capture some of the beauty and magic of nature and Space.
A happy customer and lovely friend sent me this wonderful photo of her son appreciating his Northern Lights wallpaper in his bedroom. She said he notices something new every day and I very much hope his young imagination has been captured by my design, in the way that mine was, and still is, by nature and beautiful depictions of it.