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.
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.
James 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.