1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
I’m Maddy, I work as a model as well creating things for squares & things. I’ve been all over the place! I’m English but I was born in Singapore and spent 7 years there growing up in the lovely sticky heat, before my family and I then moved to Hong Kong. We lived there for 5 years and I absolutely loved it. The tropical plants, the heat, the rainstorms, riding through busy Central in a red taxi on my own… so many great memories. I always give this long answer when asked where I’m from, as this chunk of my life was so important to me and influenced so much of who I am now -I can never just say ‘I’m from London’! I’ve been living in London now for the past 6 or so years, England for a further 10 and yet I still feel a homing signal pull towards Asia… and hot places!
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
Fun and simple, with postmodern influences, with a bit of silliness poured in, COLOURFUL and all about joy.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
I love working with sennelier oil pastels, the pigment of some of the blues is incredible. I can immediately translate an idea in my head and put it straight onto paper the way I want when I use them as the colours are so bright and instant. Since working on my sculptures though, I’ve really enjoyed being more physical with a piece and having more control of the space it may take up in a room. I work with polymer clay and it’s so easy to use with a decent choice of colours so I’m happy with that for the time being. I’m always working towards finding more sustainable materials.
4. What is your artistic process like?
For my sculptures, I sketch. When I get round to creating the physical pieces, I use these as reference but the final product can be very different to what I initially dreamt up! Other times, it can be instantaneous -I see a combination of colours whilst I’m walking down the road or I see a plant that hangs in a certain way and if I don’t have my sketch book with me, I feel like I have to rush home to get an idea out of my head.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I’ve had my eye on Jean Royère’s work recently… but my primary inspiration comes straight from my holidays with my partner in his hometown of Nice. I can just stare at the turquoise sea in a bit of a happy trance, if I get that same feeling when I look at one of my sculptures, I know I’ve done the right thing. Plants and flowers are a huge source of inspiration too – again going back to my childhood in Asia where I fell in love with all the forest vines tumbling down the Peak in Hong Kong, this sense of being surrounded by greenery and leaves became something I’ve tried to recreate throughout my life in many forms, not just through art.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
At this point in my life, it’s therapeutic, fun and I get the sense that I’m doing the thing I was meant to be doing all my life! I have always enjoyed creating but it took me a while to reach a point where it was a consistent product or style. So now I see a clear pathway for my brand and I see things through a squares & things lens where If I’m inspired by something, I have the freedom to create from it and keep that moment forever in the form of a sculpture or a drawing.
7. Where did you study?
I studied at University of Glamorgan in Cardiff, Wales. I had a LOT of fun and the course helped me find my creative lane. I studied Fashion Promotion.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Great question… Ok I’ll be honest and say I’d love a squares & things shop with a tiny cafe in it! For people to view my work in person (I’m hoping the virus is a thing of the past at this point) and have a nice slice of cake and coffee whilst being surrounded by soothing and fun art. I would also be happy with having lots of international stockists so that I can connect to more people that might otherwise not find out about me.
9. What about in ten?
Working full time on s&t (somewhere sunny) with a lovely assistant to help with things I can’t manage because I’m so busy running my squares & things store, also connecting with other small business owners and having them display and sell in said shop! If this doesn’t work out I’d be happy with a big open plan studio for people to walk around.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I want people to feel the same content I feel when I’ve finished a piece and I can see all the elements of ideas/inspiration/memories that have led me to making it. The hot sun baking down on you in the South of France, the sand underneath your feet as you walk to take a dip in the sea to cool down… the plants you can only find in hot climates randomly poking out of concrete… I hope people see those elements and feel a sense of calm and happiness, no underlying or confusing messages. Being approached by a hotel or restaurant to design pieces for a foyer or garden would be my dream.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Nutella on toast, I ate it so much as a child I eventually developed a mild allergy to hazelnuts. A staple for dinner is the sweet potatoes I bake with honey and sometimes, nigella seeds. I love Lebanese food.
12. Favourite book?
Too many to list but I’ve never been so emotionally involved with a book as I have with anything by Maggie O’Farrell. She’ll have you wanting to throw the book across the room and then crawl back to it and apologise -heavy stuff.
13. Favourite genre of music?
Anything really. I can happily listen to trashy club music and metallica on the same playlist at the gym, when I’m on set with my job I ask if they can put 70s Disco music as it puts everyone in a good mood and the same amount of energy as an espresso.
14. What are your hobbies?
Squares & things is more than a hobby now but it takes up most of my free time, which I enjoy! otherwise I love park walks, running, coffee breaks in my favourite cafes, gardening and tending to the plants on my balcony…
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I would be living deep in the Amazon rainforest in a well-made wooden tree house with WiFi and a dehumidifier, helping animals somehow, or maybe a zoo keeper?