WORDS: URSULA GLITCH
ILLUSTRATION: EMILY WARREN
Every illustrator and his dog seems to be drawing stags, bears, hares and owls these days. I don’t know where this obsession with woodland creatures has come from – perhaps a widespread nostalgia for a time past, when the rules of the forest were the rules of men? Whatever the reason, Emily Warren’s papier-mâché creatures stand out from the crowd. They appear to possess an emotional intelligence that gently draws you in. When I ask her what colour today is, I somehow know she’ll have an answer. “Oh, today is green”, she says, as if it’s obvious. And she’s right. It is.
Describe your work in brief.
I make funny-looking, slightly wonky animals for a living. Which is amazing really.
What attracts you to working in papier-mâché?
It’s free. Also you can create surprisingly solid and lasting pieces from a material that often just gets thrown away. I am a bit picky with the paper I use though. Only The Guardian will do. I’ve tried other papers but The Guardian is the right weight and just works the best.
What inspires you?
I think my grandfather is very inspiring. He used to be a farmer and is very resourceful. He is always on the lookout for useful odds and ends. He is brilliant at making and fixing things with glue and nails and string. He also taught me to be interested in everything around you. Always observe and be interested in things.
If you were one of your creations, which would you be?
Well, a friend (Ai Lucas) painted a picture of my boyfriend and I as animals – he is a sloth and I am a sleepy looking rabbit. I suppose a rabbit who has eaten too much lettuce.
Painting by Ai Lucas
What was the last thing you drew?
Doodles of different noses, and the Queen and Prince Philip dancing with corgis.
What do you most enjoy drawing at the moment?
I draw my best drawings when I’m not trying. I’m usually really pleased with the last-minute birthday cards and little doodles on scraps of paper. I keep thinking I should do some life drawing again as I love doing really quick observational drawing. It’s exciting seeing the results when you just have to draw without thinking too much. It’s a hard experience to replicate on your own, I just don’t have the self discipline. I end up overdoing things.
Name three contemporaries whose work you think we should check out.
I’m drawn to work that is illustration-based and has a certain darkness about it. I visited an exhibition by Anthony Hall last week. He does paper cuts but they are anything but whimsical and sweet. They are peopled by strange characters and animals. Seiko Kato is an illustrator (and a very lovely person) from Brighton who I really admire for her intense and bizarre collage works. She uses imagery from old books and medical catalogues to create images of amazing depth and intensity. I suppose I really admire craftsmanship as well as people who create beautiful images. Kaye Blegvad is an amazing and sensitive illustrator and she also makes beautiful jewellery. Oh, and Dave Lupton’s dark illustrations are amazing too. Sorry, that’s four.
Where can we see your work?
I am working on some pieces for the wonderful End of the Road Festival at the moment, to be displayed around the festival site. It’s a bit of a secret as to what I’m actually making, but I will also be selling some smaller pieces in the merch’ tent.
In the run up to Christmas I will be involved in an exhibition and pop-up shop organized by the Museum of British Folklore and a lovely new shop in Rye called the Lion Street Store. I also have work in Wickle in Lewes, Blackbird in Margate and soon on the Campaign for Drawing webshop. There are quite a few other exciting things happening which I will post on my blog.