Yep, it’s a cliché but that doesn’t mean that it’s not true. Travel really does broaden the mind. I don’t think that I would have been inspired to create even half of my designs if I had stayed home. The Boyfriend has a thing for a fast car and last year we took a road trip to Slovenia, ostensibly for a holiday but in truth so we, I should say he, could drive at high speed on the Autobahn. It was a new car: very shiny, very black, very fast, very cool, with flashes of red, low bucket seats and a surprisingly capacious boot. We managed to get us all in, with bags, and various engine parts for a mate of his who has the enviable talent of being able to make fast cars even faster. He is a sort of god I believe.
I had never driven across Europe before, having always flown. That’s the true difference between islanders and continentals. They think nothing of hopping in a car and driving for hours; we can’t wait to get on a plane. Being in a car usually means sitting in a traffic jam. Which we didn’t. All went smoothly if a little too sedately for the Boyfriend. I can tell you there are some very impressively clean, well designed loos and not bad coffee on the route but not much exciting by way of views; and a dearth of racing Germans. We duly arrived in Ptuj, the Boyfriend’s home town, late at night and just at the end of a thunderstorm which had the benefit of breaking the 40°C heat. I really cannot conceive of 40°C heat. I mean obviously I know it exists; I just can’t imagine existing in it. I most definitely do not tan.
Ptuj really is lovely. It is the oldest recorded town in Slovenia and is picturesquely situated on the bend of the River Drava. It has a sea of red roofs, an impressive castle that was once a holiday home for some important Austrians and narrow streets with colourfully painted houses, nearly all of which seem to have statement doors. Evidently having an impressive doorway was the thing.
Now of course I can’t go anywhere without seeing pattern potential but I find that it’s not always the things that appeal to me most obviously at the time. Mostly it’s later, on returning home, when I look back over the images I have taken on a trip, that a design suggests itself to me, in this case a pattern from the most impressive of the impressive doors. I sketched it out, scanned it into my computer and when cleaning it up, it came to me that the door should be partly transparent to show a streetscape behind it. As Okno was one of my early designs, I was ridiculously pleased and a little surprised by the result. I liked how the colours worked together and the glimpse of another unexpected world behind the doorway. Indeed, I find myself surprised by much of what I create, both terrified and exhilarated as I am by the exposure inherent in sharing my work and the window it affords into my rather jumbled brain. It is comforting though to be reminded that being in possession of a crazy internal life is what it is to be human and alive, at one and the same time.
I later discovered that the most impressive of the impressive doorways was once the door to the police station. I leave you to make of that what you will.