Just about to put some gorgeous roast veggies in the oven for later, but was so taken by the colours, I had to get my camera out.  I'm always surprised when people ask me about inspiration, because for me it's all around.  I'm constantly amazed by the mundane - surrounded by glorious, yet ordinary images - and the knack is just to make sure you open your eyes and look.  It's easy to walk around with your eyes closed, taking the constant visual floorshow for granted, but if you consciously open your eyes it's like a psychedelic trip without the LSD!
Years ago I was interviewed by a journalist for a retrospective Rowan book.  She arrived on the doorstep armed with all the usual questions about background, training, inspiration etc and I remember being quite thrown when she asked where I got my ideas from.  Several other designers were also interviewed, giving their design sources as being drawn from nature, architecture, ceramics, paintings and world textiles - all grand and worthy examples of beautiful inspiration.  When the book came out I felt that by contrast, my response that I'm constantly inspired by the little things in everyday life, seemed rather thin.

Coming from a completely self-taught perspective, I'd never been to art school, so when I started my design career I knew nothing of art history and comparatively little about the sort of references any designer worth her salt would be expected to have. It was a huge learning curve for me and one that subsequently I greedily explored and lapped up.

However, instinctively I'd always been excited by colour and texture, wherever it occurred, especially as I'd spent my childhood in a smoggy Lancashire mill town, where the only colour was grey.  This made me eager to pour as much colour into my own world as possible and it became the focus in everything I did.  I learnt to cook, putting the colours of ingredients before taste,  I bought clothes for colour rather than fit,  and before I knew better, the colour of a plant was more important to me than whether it could survive where I placed it.  Philip even commented that our cats were chosen to match our respective hair colours, although I hotly deny this!
Getting back to the cooking though, food presentation has gone through many different fashionable phases, but I still feel that the colour of a meal is hugely important to our enjoyment of it. The eyes must have a direct line to the taste buds.  I made a note to myself the other day that I'd love to do a hybrid knit, cook and gardening book, but another one to go on my list for a future life is Cooking for Colour.


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