Early hours of the 25th December. I’ve woken up in my old bed, and there’s art all around me.
I travelled from Japan to spend Christmas and New Years at home in Herefordshire in the UK, where I grew up.
Herefordshire is a very green farming county in the Welsh Marches, to the west of England and on the border with Wales. In winter it always gets frosty and it’s generally a very pretty, if muddy, place to live.
The colours in the scenery are very muted in winter, and the deadening of the landscape gives it an otherworldly air.
One of the wonderful things about life in the UK is that there is the culture that second hand is best for a lot of people. As a result, there is an abundance of car boot sales and antique fairs. My mum and dad have collected art very cheaply over decades, simply by scouring these markets. The art in my house formed a big part of my inspiration to become an illustrator, and also fostered my interest in other cultures when I was growing up.
Besides pictures on the walls, I think the patterns on fabrics and carpets, or the designs ingrained in woodwork are a kind of art too.
Seeing this rich visual landscape as I was growing up also changed the way I see the world. Though it might seem cluttered and slightly mad, there was always more to see at home, and that helped me to look at the world around me with interest.
The art I grew up with ranged from the conventional to the utterly bizarre.
Every picture tells a story, and I used to enjoy guessing what the artist was thinking when they made their work.
The pictures in my home also helped to feed my imagination. I always remember the part of The Witches by Roald Dahl, where a little girl lives her entire life inside a painting. Although slightly macabre, I always liked that idea; that paintings could represent another world.
I often find that art and illustration are represented as two different disciplines. I can see how that may be, but I do not think that it is entirely correct. Both art and illustration tell us stories about the world around us, or encourage us to see the world in a different way.
I’m hoping to write and illustrate my first children’s book in 2018, and being at home surrounded by all the things that inspired me in childhood is a great way to begin thinking about it.
Wishing you a Happy Christmas in 2017.