“I believe in the ability of design to ignite a spark, just as it did in me. This is why I created the Sumi 墨 Collection.”
The first time I thought about representation was when I was sitting in my Nan’s living room. Although I didn’t know what it was at the time.
I was only little and was sat, legs dangling from one of her green, fabric armchairs, looking at the two paintings on the walls nearest me. One painting featured a stylised but delicately painted duck by my Uncle David.
The other painting, well I didn’t know exactly what the other painting was and this was what was bothering me. This had been painted by my Uncle John who I knew was an art teacher. I couldn’t believe how two people could paint so differently and why someone would paint something that you couldn’t recognise straight away? What did that mean?
For a long time afterwards, I would sit in my Nan’s living room and ponder this. It both unnerved and intrigued me; it had made me question what I had been looking at up until that point? Was there more than one way to paint? And perhaps even other things to paint?
Like many young people, I had been striving for something whenever I drew or painted and that was an amount of realism. I don’t think I quite realised it then but to differing degrees, both of these paintings started to turn that on its head and to raise issues of intention and with that communication.
Around this time there were other things bothering me. Not least my Mom’s Delphis Poole Pottery plates and dishes and in particular the plate which is shown in this photograph.
I liked the colours and wanted to see an owl sitting on a branch but the top part of the motif, being devoid of eyes was making this difficult. In fact, it reminded me of an open mouth with teeth. It scared me a little bit, making me uncomfortable. Similarly, her other dishes, with their energetic and vibrant colours were so unlike anything else I’d seen, I couldn’t stop looking at them. In my mind at the time they were unresolved. I now know these were all very good things as they forced me to ask questions and I’m sure played a part in fostering my curiosity and interest in design.
It is well documented how the visual environment we are exposed to plays a vital role in our development both as children and as adults. The rich disciplines which fall under the umbrella of visual design; to include interior design, surface pattern design, graphic design, illustration and many others all have the power to make us think. They all have the power to intrigue us so that we ask such questions, to point things out we may have overlooked or forgotten, to enrich our environment, both internally and externally and thus our lives. I believe in the ability of design to do all these things and at its very best to ignite a spark, just as it did in me. This is why I created the Sumi 墨 Collection.
“Design is not for philosophy it’s for life.” Issey Miyake