I can't think a better way to celebrate easter than by spending time with Sammi of SomethingHorse. She is a new-ish leader on our Folk Reveries team and has been such a help and a unifying force on our team already. I just love following her Woodland Diary, and want to live in the magical landscapes she creates. I'm treating myself to one of Sammi's adorable bunny scuptures today too ... :)
Here are my questions and her answers...
What is your background?
Joe and I both grew up in Southern Africa. Joe grew up in Zambia and I grew up on a sheep farm in a semi-desert area of South Africa called the little Karoo. Joe and I met because he was my painting lecturer at Art college. Because of our opposition to Apartheid it became dangerous for us to live in South Africa, so soon after we met we moved to Ireland where we spent 12 years before moving to London about 9 years ago.
How long have you been working in clay and on paper?
I only began working with clay 4 or 5 years ago, so it is still very new to me, but I have been making drawings and paintings on paper since I was a child. I have been officially working as a painter and illustrator for about 20 years.
Do you work in any other media?
My other favourite medium, which also involves paper, is collage. I also love working with wood, taking photographs and creating collections of found objects.
How does your observance of nature influence your work?
The world of nature is a great source of inspiration for me. I think that the organic shapes, forms, textures and colours that I see find their way into my work. I also love animals and my experiences of watching wild and tame animals has created the basis for many of the animal characters I paint or make out of clay. I also love looking at films, documentaries and artwork which capture the beauty of nature.
Nature is not just a visual source of imagery for me... in a very real way I think that the energy I need in order to create is replenished and renewed through my contact with nature. I could not really keep going without it.
What is the connection with paganism in your life and work?
I connect to Pagan myths and festivals because of the reverence for nature and the close connection with the rhythms and seasons of the earth throughout the year. This is something I try to hold on to and remain aware of.
What is a typical day like for you?
My days tend to vary quite a lot as I am more creative at some times of the month than others - I find that the time before and after the full moon is my most creative time. I often work quite late into the night, so usually I get up quite late, make a to-do list for the day and get to work. Often the early part of the day is spent on loading the kiln, taking photographs, checking mail etc. An hour or so before sunset Joe and I will always take a walk to the wood, forest or fields. This is the most important and most enjoyable part of my day. After cooking dinner I usually get to work on colouring and glazing, or making new pieces out of clay. At the moment I am doing some collage which is a lovely change. I don't paint as much as I used to, but sometimes I will paint or write. I also have to try to squeeze in some time online working on my blog or Etsy shop. Always too much to do and not enough hours to fit it all in!! We always end the day with watching a nice film or documentary or listening to an audio book.
Can you tell us more about your creative partnership?
When Joe and I work together he tends to make things on a large scale and I produce the teeny details. We are working on a gnome house at the moment, it is made in a section of a hollow oak log. Joe has carved stairs and a fireplace and is busy installing the upper storey. I am going to make the gnome family and gnome crockery etc out of clay. He will make some wooden furniture as well.
We are also writing a children's book about a family of beetles. Joe has done most of the illustrations and I have done most of the writing, but we worked out the story together.
We love to work together in this way, but also have our own individual projects... sometimes we need to give one another a lot of space, at other times we offer one another advice and encouragement.
What are your hopes and goals for the future of your creative work?
I have been thinking about learning to crochet so that I can make clothes for my little clay figures... I am waiting till I am less busy, but this is a little dream I really hope to realise one day.
I want to finish the many children's books I have begun writing and illustrating.
And finally in the very near future Joe and I are determined that we are finally going to use the enamels and enamelling equipment we bought a few years ago and make some enamelled jewellery in our kiln.
Thanks so much, Sammi, for sharing your world with us <3 We're so lucky to have you as a team leader!