Enid Marx and the Innocent Eye

I draw my inspiration from various forms of vernacular arts and crafts or 'Folk Art'. These are objects or artifacts that have been created out of necessity by an 'untrained eye' such as everyday domestic items or architectural structures. It is the decoration however, that has then been applied to these objects greater than is necessary for their useful purpose that really interests me. The surface design can be traditional, it can tell a story or simply demonstrate the love and pride of the maker. I love the use of simple forms and shapes, the naïve but emotive interpretation of people or animals and more importantly (as a textile designer), an almost indigenous sense of pattern and repeat. Folk Art has an immediacy and a basic human appeal so that knowledge of Fine Art, complex themes or political context is not necessary for it to be appreciated.

Having said this, I am aware that as a 'trained' designer it may be somewhat hypocritical or inappropriate to use Folk Art to set the foundations and principles of my own design work. However, it was upon reading Enid Marx and Margaret Lambert's 'English Popular Art' that I felt encouraged to move forward with my project.

“[Folk Art] is not a thing that can be artificially revived; to try to do so would be to get the antithesis of the genuine tradition. But by preserving examples from the past for study and enjoyment we may, through our designers of the future, possibly regain some of the old individual qualities and delight in simple forms.” – Enid Marx, English Popular Art, 1951.

Enid Marx had been nothing short of a guiding light for me throughout my Masters year and her own work continues to inspire me. I am amazed by the wide spectrum of her talents; from printmaking to illustration, and painting to textile design, and yet she is relatively unknown and under appreciated by the design world. It is my aim to celebrate folk art sensibilities through pattern and surface illustration and to evoke a narrative through the imagery as a tribute to traditional folk art. The stimulus for my imagery undoubtably comes from both Scandinavian and British folk art and although both have important differences, I try to reproduce a quality and style that is intrinsically the same in all folk art no matter where it may originate.

You can read more about Enid Marx here.