For the last few years, I’ve been doing artwork which I’m still not sure how to describe – appliqué or collage would be closest. They’re mostly fabric-based but along the way I’ve experimented with other materials like feathers, buttons, leather and jewelry. I get my inspirations from different sources but I’m often drawn to mythical and fairytale themes.
My first attempt with the new-found technique. I didn’t deliberately set out to do a portrait of PJ Harvey (incidentally one of my biggest musical loves), but I wanted to model it on her because she has such striking features. At the time, I also just read Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, which is probably why I put her in a medieval-style red dress. I’m still very fond of this one even though it’s not as complicated or polished as the later pieces.
I love the art of Gustav Klimt and I based my second artwork on his famous Tree of Life. I had a lot of fun playing with the decorative elements, like the flowers I made from fabric and the buttons.
I was inspired by the inside artwork of the album Cabin Fever! by Rasputina, a quirky cello-based band with a Victorian influence. At one point early on I had to redo the walls from scratch because I was unhappy with the original fabric. It taught me to always trust my gut instinct.
I picked the wall portraits rather randomly. On the wall to the left, there’s Queen Elizabeth I, then going clockwise it’s an old Flemish painting, a medieval portrait, a photograph of Brian Eno and a couple of images from one of my photography books. On the right wall, there’s another portrait of Elizabeth as a young girl, then a photo of myself aged four, cover of PJ Harvey’s White Chalk album, another medieval artwork, Isabella Rossellini, and the cover of Joanna Newsom’s Ys.
Another artwork inspired by an album cover, this time Fever Ray’s self-titled debut. From the reactions I got, people can’t make up their mind whether the angel looks male or female, which is what I was aiming for. Initially I was going to have the little girl on her own, but then I felt bad about leaving her all alone in the woods, so I gave her a giant cat as a companion.
Technically, it was an interesting piece to do; I got to experiment with materials like felt, fur, sequins, glitter and feathers. I got an unexpected lesson in goose feathers along the way – they curve! I had to make a special call to the supplier and ask them to pretty please pick the rarer feathers that curve to the left for the angel’s left wing.
Ivan Bilibin was a Russian illustrator from the first half of the 20th century who, among other things, did wonderful and distinctive illustrations heavily influenced by the traditional Russian folklore. I based my fifth piece on one of his works, which I followed quite faithfully, except changing the main rider from male to female, just because. The two patterned squares and the stripe at the bottom actually go over the glass. Also, the spear points are metal and were kindly made for me by a friend.
This artwork kicked off a series of orders from my family, starting with a request from my brother to make him one based on Red vs. Blue web TV series. It’s the most complicated and detailed artwork I’ve done yet, taking me a couple of years to complete.
An easy breezy one for my Mum, who wanted an artwork with a sail boat. A plain sail boat would have been a tad dull, so I was lucky to find a nice cubist-style painting as inspiration. It’s easily the most upbeat and cheerful piece I’ve done so far.
Another request from my brother, based on Dark Souls III video game. While I miss doing artworks just for myself, I do like a challenge of imagery that I probably would never have chosen. I won’t lie, I would have loved to keep this one for myself. I really enjoyed working with leather and creating fire with the help of layered transparent fabrics. The air bubbles effect on the golden background was a pure fluke that would have ruined a different artwork, but worked perfectly here.