Friday, May 8, 2009

Profile: Jackie Morris

Jackie Morris

"Signpost" can be found on page 9 of the 2009 Paws For Charity Art Book. I was intrigued by this photo from the moment I saw it. How in the world did the ginger cat get up that post? You can find the answer by reading this entry on the We Three Cats blog.

For Jackie's bio, I have taken bits and pieces from the biography page of her website. The words are written by Jackie:

...from at least the age of six I wanted to be an artist. I watched my dad drawing a picture of a lapwing, making a bird appear on a piece of paper using only a pencil, and I thought it was some magic that made this happen. So there and then I decided to learn how to conjure birds from paper and colour.

I went to school in Evesham to Prince Henry's High School and I remember walking to school past shop fronts above which elegant buildings grew. I used to get told off at school for drawing and dreaming. Now I get paid to do both.

I remember walking in the park by the river, bank voles and weeping willows and bright flashes of kingfishers. I loved the ferry at Hampton where the ferryman pulled you across the river to a land of fields and blackberries, where my dad would walk with me and show me how to find birds' nests and tales of when he was a boy.

After school I went to college, first in Hereford, then to Exeter where they told me that I would never make it as an illustrator and from there I escaped to Bath Academy, set in a beautiful stately home in Corsham. Here I developed a love for peacocks. These bright birds with their ridiculous tails would fly into our gardens.

After college I moved briefly to London, just off Balham High Road. I thought you had to live in London because that is where most of the publishing houses are. (It didn't take me long to realize that I was not born to live in a city) It was here that my real education began as I took my portfolio around magazine publishers and book publishers. I worked in magazines and books for seven years, for The New Statesman, New Socialist, Independent, Guardian and Radio Times. I designed cards and calendars for Greenpeace and Amnesty International and fell into children's books by accident.

I moved to Wales just before starting my first children's book, Jo's Storm, by Caroline Pitcher and have lived in the same place ever since, a small cottage held together by spider's webs. Cats come and go. At the moment I share the house with Tom and Hannah, my son and daughter, Floss and Bella, two odd dogs, and Maurice, Pixie, Elmo, Martha and Max, cats of various colour but mostly ginger.

Things I like: Blue, cats, the smell of honeysuckle, rose petals, birds, words, fires, good books, crayons and paint, the smell of a new book, polar bears, moonlight and moonshadows, stars, sunrise, sunset, dew on the grass, poetry, red, random acts of kindness, long gold grass of late summer, the sound of the wind in the trees, the brush of a butterfly's wings, the fragility of bone, wasp's nests, washing on a line blowing in the wind on a sunny winter's day, the patterns the sea draws on a beach each day and night.

Wishes and Desires: I would like a grandfather clock that chimes the hour and has a big key to wind it up. It would sit in my studio and when I have painted for six hours I would get up to make tea and wind back time, because what I need more than anything is more hours in the day. I would like infinite patience and a quiet mind. I would like a tidy house, clean and smelling of roses or frankincense, instead of a house that looks as if it inhabited by trolls and smelling of wet dogs. I would like my garden to be consumed by the hillside, to grow heather and foxgloves and all things wild, where snakes and spiders live with butterflies and birds.

Things I like to do: Walk, fly kites, watch birds fly, lie back on a high rock and watch clouds form and disperse, lie back in a wood and watch leaves fall, read, watch a good film under a blanket of cats, making things appear on paper using only coloured water, walking by shallow rivers where water tumbles over clear stone beds.

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