Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Percie Edgeler: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

percie edgeler
Percie Edgeler is another recent graduate of Camberwell College of Arts, (see also Tiffany Baxter) whose work caught my eye at the graduate shows. She contributes an unusual and wonderful piece for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion inspired by a Japanese folk tale

percie edgeler
What kind of artwork will you be creating on the theme of magic and rituals for your upcoming group exhibition?
I’m not entirely sure yet. I have a few different ideas I need to figure out the layouts for. We’ve been given some guidelines by the lovely people at Treadwell’s Books (the venue) and we can’t have anything three dimensional due to size of the space, so that’s definitely not an option. Luckily it’s with a very friendly group of people from a mix of disciplines, including Tiffany Baxter, who’s being included in the colouring book, and we can share our ideas quite easily and get feedback on what we think is best collectively.

percie edgeler
Why have you decided to push your artwork into 3 dimensions and how are you progressing?
I trained and work now as an illustrator, which most would assume is primarily a two dimensional way of working. Three dimensional work has never been my strong point, and by making ceramics I’m trying to push myself not to be limited to one skill. I guess in part it’s also a question of style: if I’m limiting myself to working in a certain way, my two dimensional work won’t evolve from what it already is because it’s not being challenged. It’s slow progress because I don’t know much about three dimensional forms, but I’m learning. I chose to start with ceramics because to me it seems the most natural. I’ve always worked quite traditionally with my hands, so being able to hold and lump of clay and form it makes more sense to me than any other three dimensional form for now. At the moment everything I try to shape is quite wobbly, I’ve made a fair few wobbly dogs, but they’re getting better over time.

percie edgeler
In what way does the built environment inspire you?
At the risk of being too political, my generation is limited in terms of housing; so it’s hard for us not to notice the built environment more than ever. It’s interesting when you go to other countries and see their architecture how in comparison the UK has a mixture of old and new that is juxtaposed. The spaces in which we work and play can no longer be limited to a building. I’m lucky in that the area I live in is the greenest borough in London, and for me it’s easy to go into a park or field without losing my connection to the city. But now we need more housing and infrastructure, those green areas are increasingly under threat. There’s a balance of being part of something man made and something natural which I really enjoy, though recently in what I’ve been drawing I’ve been erring towards the natural. Often we don’t take the time to consider what’s there already because we’re used to it, and I think now as an adult I appreciate that environment a lot more.

percie edgeler
Why did you decide to focus on a Japanese fairytale for your colouring book page?
There’s something very honest about Japanese folk stories. There’s so many different ones, and in the Japanese culture it’s not just a fairy tale, it’s a part of life, a tale of a time before our time. The way they’re told is mostly through spoken word; more reportage than storytelling like we have in Europe. And the way someone tells a story verbally is very different to how one may draw one, with the storyteller adding their own inflections or details which others may not. That culture of storytelling is still there now, I think; if you read a novel by a contemporary Japanese author, say for instance the ever popular Haruki Murakami, the facts are given with such detail that it’s fascinating. In 1Q84, Murakami writes about two people who have loved each other for years and in one scene they miss each other by minutes. That pure feeling expressed in folk stories is still there, and that’s absolutely lovely. I chose to base the artwork for my colouring book page on a folk tale for this reason. I wanted to give my own take, and share a story in a new way that people could interact with.

percie edgeler
Which cultures are you most enjoying learning the folk tales about and why?
I enjoy learning the folk tales from most cultures, be it from European cultures or further afield. I think my favourite so far is a Maori one talking about how Ta Moko, a form of facial tattooing, came to their tribe as there is no distinguishing between what happened in the story as fact or fiction. Icelandic folk tales are also quite enjoyable as they can be quite traditional by Western standards but also feature dark elements.

percie edgeler
What is it that you love about books and what kind of books do you hope to make yourself one day?
As childrens’ books are an escape. You can live a hundred times through all those characters and have all of those adventures through reading them. As an adult, the same can still apply on some level but they also help to challenge a lot of issues in society and reflect on society at that time. Precisely because of that, my long term goal is to work with books. Every opportunity I’ve had to work with books has just confirmed that. I want to make books for children that they can enjoy, but also want to make them accessible for adults; reading to children and encouraging them to read should be something to have fun with, though very few books achieve that.

percie edgeler
How did you get involved with Four Corners Books and what did you do with them?
Through my university in our final year we had a choice of external projects for a range of different people; e.g. the BBC, Tate Modern, Nexus. I chose the Four Corners one because I wanted to make something outside of my comfort zone of something narrative. By creating animal images from the Edwardian short story of Saki’s Sredni Vashtar, I was pushed to do something different but still work with books and illustration in a way that I felt made the project fun and exciting.

percie edgeler
What happens in your story about a man and a dog?
A boy loses his dog after the dog runs out of the house because the dog is tired of never being played with. The boy, desperately sorry for his actions, chases the dog out and follows him on his adventures around the world only to miss him and his incredible feats each time. It escalates and escalates until eventually, unable to find him, the boy goes home and gives up – but luckily for him, that’s not the end of the story. I don’t want to give too much away because it’s something I definitely want to complete and put out into the world. Maybe that’s a little self indulgent. When I started it for the Macmillan Prize in 2014, I felt like giving up on illustration. It made drawing exciting again and forced me to keep going.

percie edgeler
What was the best thing to come out of your graduate exhibition Rock, Paper, Scissors in Hoxton?
I think the best thing to come out of my graduate exhibition was the experience of doing something on such a large scale. I managed the Kickstarter for it with a small group of people, and that was insanely difficult. We raised about two hundred pounds over what we needed in that in the few hours before it finished, so it allowed us to cover a lot of extras which really made a difference to the exhibition as a whole. Also the venue let me recreate a mural I did inside the university, albeit on a smaller scale, which was really enjoyable. I also ran a paper marbling workshop while there and that was really fun to do, especially with little kids. It was messy though so their parents probably weren’t too pleased!

What else have you been doing this year, it sounds like you’ve been super busy!
Two weeks after I graduated I was offered a job interning at Kritical Mass, a company which works with charities and businesses trying to make a change with their products in a positive way; so through them I’ve been given some work for clients such as BirdLife International which has been great. For them I’ve made a set of illustrations concerning the decline in vulture population which has been really interesting, I’ve learnt a lot from it which I wouldn’t learn in any other job. I’ve been quite lucky this year in that I was also featured in Secret 7” which was held at Somerset House for the first time, and also had work in Belly Kids’ ‘Milhouse From Memory’ exhibition. I have a few projects in the pipelines as well now which are something a bit different to what I’ve done before; so from here I’m interested to see where I can go and what I can do, I’m excited for what’s to come.

Categories ,1Q84, ,26 illustrators, ,Adult Coloring Book, ,Adult Colouring Book, ,BirdLife International, ,Camberwell College of Arts, ,Coloring Book, ,Colouring Book, ,Four Corners Books, ,Haruki Murakami, ,illustration, ,Kickstarter, ,Kritical Mass, ,Macmillan Prize, ,Milhouse From Memory, ,Percie Edgeler, ,Rock Paper Scissors, ,Secret 7”, ,Sredni Vashtar, ,Ta Moko, ,Tiffany Baxter, ,Treadwell’s Books

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