Inspiration: or, frequently asked questions.

Mole loved to dig: Summer

People often ask me where I get my inspiration. It comes sometimes from the most unlikely places. Last year I worked at the Pop Up Festival in London. My first event was in The Grant Museum. The museum itself is attached to the University of London and is a room filled with skeletons and pieces of creatures. It tells a story of a bygone age, before the days of photography, when ‘specimens’ were collected and studied by ladies and gentlemen. To me it was a macabre mausoleum of death, very beautiful, but also very disturbing. The children in our group absolutely adored it. I would so love to go back there to draw. They had everything, even things that don’t get made anymore, like the Tasmanian tiger skin and skeleton.

They also had a jar of moles.

So what was it about the jar of moles? Perhaps the fact that the mole was not alone in the jar. This little specimen was a celebration designed by, perhaps a golfer? Or someone who really didn’t like Wind in the Willows. Or maybe it had come to the museum via a curious fair ground attraction, or macabre village fete where they played a game of ‘guess how many moles there are in the jar’.

So, When Dylan Calder from the Pop Up festival asked me to do a drawing or painting, a design for a postcard for the Pop Up Festival this year I just couldn’t get the moles out of my head, so I decided to get one of them out of the jar and off to mole heaven. The resulting image has the muted tones of our British summer this year, and one happy mole. And I can’t help thinking that over the rest of my life, one by one, I will find a way of setting free the moles, maybe in a picture book, maybe in a series of paintings.

A jar of pickled moles

Mole loved to dig sketch

If you get a chance to go to any of the events at the Pop Up Festival this year please do, and take as many people, young and old as you can with you. The reward will be pleasure and you never know what might happen.

The postcard is part of a series of 4 images specially designed by artists to promote the work of the Pop Up Festival and to raise money for them so that they can bring the love of stories and reading to an ever wider audience, and I would like to thank Dylan Calder and Daniel Hahn for all the work they do to make this possible. They are really working to help change people’s lives, in a very positive way. To support the festival and the work of Pop Up and find out how to get the postcard go to their site. They also have a facebook page where you can interact and find out what is going on. Here is a direct link to the “Friends” page. And here is more on Pop Up from The Guardian.

March Hares by James Mayhew for Pop Up Festival postcardJames Mayhew’s card was the first, Spring: March Hares, produced using 3 colour lino printing. For more information about James’s up and coming events at Cheltenham and Lichfield check out his blog.

Meanwhile I will continue finding inspiration in curious places: today at Meg Rosoff’s blog where she is being very careful and cautious on the stairs.

About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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7 Responses to Inspiration: or, frequently asked questions.

  1. lynn says:

    I love the idea of setting the moles free ‘off to mole heaven.’ 🙂

  2. dinahmow says:

    Ugh! That jar of moles gives me the creeps! And I’ve worked with a taxidermist, with vets, with injured animals. But this?
    I’m glad you managed to liberate one poor mole.(Perhaps, now, he go messing about in boats with Ratty.’-) )

  3. oh goodness. I could have done with my imagination rather than an actual photo! No wonder it stuck in your mind. Oh, do please free the moles.

    I still remember stages of a chicken egg development -about 7 something like 3 days between – from science when about 11 or 12 all those years ago. Living on a farm, it really bothered me that they hadn’t let the nearly hatched ones finish hatching a few more days.
    Sandy in Bracknell

  4. Jane says:

    Wow! A jar of moles!! There’s just something surreal about all those little hands and feet in the photograph, poor moles. So maligned and hated by farmers and gardeners alike. My brother once came across a dead mole and cleaned and dried it and gave it to me years ago, I treasured it. His fur was SO soft and silky I had him for years on one of my shelves until one day my eldest daughter brought a load of her teenage boy friends home and later on after they’d all left my little mole was missing. I never did discover who ‘nabbed’ him, but I’ve missed him everyday since!
    I wish I could get to visit the Pop-up Festival and also the Grant Museum.


  5. I love your mole post card, and James Mayhew’s lino is brilliant too. Your moles in a jar story reminds me of going to the great museum in Prague with my grandfather every Sunday morning when I was a child. It was a tradition. But we never got out of the first floor mineral section because that’s what he loved the most. I didn’t know there were taxidermy specimens and moles in jars there till I turned 32 and had a chance to return!

  6. Freyalyn says:

    Poor moles – their little hands up against the glass makes it look as if they went in live! I’m so glad that one of them is – at least metaphorically – out and free. That is certainly a very magnificent sand castle!

  7. Anita says:

    Something very sad about a jar full of moles–all those little pink feet—! A sight never to be forgotten. Can’t imagine a good reason for it myself. It’s nice to know that you’ve (virtually) freed one of them to roam wherever your imagination will take him. Maybe you’ll even bring more along soon?;-)

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