Ideas for a sunny day: Marvellous murals

Hatty Pocock is the human equivalent of a walking, talking sunflower. Each time I see her, at a drinks party, or barbecue with friends (weren’t they the golden days we took for granted?) she is dressed in some hippy collective featuring dungarees and a home-sewn patterned top with her wild mop of curly hair piled above her ever smiling face. Chatting with Hatty is like turning your face towards the sun. 

And if her sunny demeanour wasn’t enough, she also happens to create some of the most joyful artwork in East London. Her instagram feed is a constant source of highly stylised and lively animal paintings featured on an assortment of canvas, pottery and greetings cards. My favourite medium that she works on though is walls, her wild and colourful creations seeming so much more intense when given a larger space to live on. 

“I always had an interest in big paintings. It was something that excited me. The bigger the better in my eyes,” Hatty explained to me over email. “I wanted to create large-scale, colourful paintings that incorporated symbolic meaning for me personally, drawing on childhood experiences, but also to make the people who viewed my work smile, leaving them with a sense of happiness and calmness.”

First stages of a mural

Her philosophy is that art should be about feeling and energy and can act as a powerful healing tool when channelled effectively. Currently training for a masters in art psychotherapy and working as a special needs art teacher, Hatty lives true to that philosophy by running art therapy sessions and creating pieces for communal spaces. Murals, which she has painted in schools, care homes and gardens, act as the most potent form for her special style of spirit lifting. 

Mural painting has been an impactful form of communication and expression since cavemen depicted hunting wooly mammals on the walls of caves. Later came the Ancient Egyptians who covered tombs in once colourful and detailed hieroglyphics. Diego Rivero, husband of Frida Kahlo, painted highly charged political murals throughout the first half of the 20th century. Now there is Hatty.

Painting a mural for a private garden

“I first started painting murals when I was asked to create one for the primary school I work for in South East London,” Hatty tells me. “This was a great opportunity for me to explore this way of working but also to collaborate with the children I worked with in the school. They helped me come up with the design and I incorporated their ideas. The children I work with have autism and are a massive inspiration.”

Since then, Hatty has created work for both private and public enjoyment. A mutual friend commissioned a piece for her garden, coming up with the concept together over Aperol Spritz. “We discussed what we thought might look good and I drew up some designs. Lucy was amazing because she was open to anything, an artist’s dream client. The purpose was simply to make her garden look amazing and colourful. A happy place to be in.”

Christobel MacGreevy’s mural for Pandora Sykes

The resulting work creates a vivid energy in the small walled terrace and acts as a unique backdrop for summer gatherings. A similar example was created by artist Christabel MacGreevy for writer and podcast host Pandora Sykes’ illustrating how fashion’s doyens are exploring the ‘bigger is better’ ideology. 

Hatty lists Matisse’s paper-cut-outs, David Hockney’s big landscape paintings, Grayson Perry’s tapestries and everything about Frida Kahlo as her main sources of inspiration. If you’re considering a similar project yourself while confined to your own home and garden, Hatty suggests giving yourself a minimum of four days for the project and to make sure you have enough of the correct paint depending on whether painting inside or outside. A solid plan is essential before starting. A large scale space has surprisingly little room for mistakes. 

The way we decorate and add joy to our homes feels more important than ever. The thought of facing a summer confined to the house might make you look for colourful methods to enliven the lockdown. A mural is a high-risk, high-reward option to turn everyday places into impressive ones. If you’ve got the guts, one of Hatty’s sunshine specials, might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Visit Hatty’s website or follow her on instagram

Lauren Saving

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