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Figures, Creatures and Tea, the latest Gallery @ Half Moon exhibition (until 13 April 2015), is a stunning collection of rich and colourful paintings and prints inspired by the artist’s family, friends and her great love of tea.
We caught up with Julia de Greff to find out more about her work, inspiration and her love of a good brew.
Where did the inspiration for Figures, Creatures and Tea come from?
Well, I like people. I find them interesting. I am interested in what is important to them. So I like painting people. That’s the figures.
With the creatures, I have read a lot of children’s books to my kids in the last few years and they seem to have a lot of animals and creatures in them. I like creatures – animals, birds, fish – but especially birds and flying creatures, and I just seem to find myself painting them. I like the way they are sometimes drawn in children’s books and that has been an inspiration to me
And tea… Well, someone once said that tea was my religion. I don’t think that’s true, but I really like to sit down around 4pm and have a cup or two of loose leaf tea. Plus, I have always liked old china, cups and plates. I don’t know why, but I do. So tea, in an old china cup if possible, is an important part of my everyday life.
So, that is what I have been painting and my title is just quite literal.
Three of the paintings are inspired by the latest Half Moon season (Chicken Licken, Handa’s Surprise and Pitschi, the Kitten). What was it about these productions that spoke to you?
I think it was the puppet creatures and their expressions. I liked how they looked and the handmade quality of them. They inspired me in that they looked full of interesting expressions and I felt I would like to get to know them. Painting something gives me a feeling of getting to know it.
Bold colour plays an important role in your work. What are you trying to achieve by using such playful colours?
I’m not sure that I’m trying to achieve something. I think that’s just what comes out. I think it’s quite intuitive. I’m quite particular about colour and getting colours that I like. There is often quite an intensity to them. I like the contrast with the black charcoal – if there’s not enough dark in the painting it usually doesn’t work for me.
How would you describe your style?
Colourful, alive, a bit rough, sometimes intense, sometimes delicate, a bit strange, a bit mad, but hopefully warm.
And finally, tell us about your love of tea and why it plays a recurring role in your work!
I only drink caffeinated brown tea once a day at tea time, so it is a very important cup of tea for me and there is something of a ritual about it. In everyday life my presentation of things is quite scruffy, but I always have to put the milk in a milk jug at tea time!
I am completely undiscerning about wine, but I am very particular about tea. Fortunately my brother sells tea, so I have a good supply. I like having tea and a chat with my husband or a good friend. I suppose there is something warm and comforting about tea.
Figures, Creatures and Tea, by Julia de Greff, runs until 13 April 2015 during the theatre opening hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm and Saturdays 10am – 4pm (theatre show days only). To discover more about Julia visit www.juliadegreff.co.uk.