Sunday, 28 September 2014

Fresh Pickings: The wild world of Polly Fern Sergeant

From every breed of English bird you can name, to tiny colourful insects, doe-eyed miniature hares and silky-feathered chickens, Polly Fern Sergeant's beautiful illustrations are a who's who of British wildlife.

During her studies at Norwich University of the Arts, she has established a dedicated following, with a rapt audience of over 23,000 followers on Instagram.

Her beautiful drawings and paintings feature everything from pheasants and peonies to crickets and canaries (which are no doubt occasionally modeled on the birds she keeps as pets and live-in muses.)

As big nature lovers ourselves, Assemblage couldn't resist sitting down with her to find out more about her work. 

What inspires you?
Countryside walks, changing of seasons, my canary companions that are always beside me whilst I am painting. 
I currently live in Norwich city and I find the history of a place very inspiring and I enjoy discovering small everyday events/stories.

What drew you to focusing on wildlife in particular in your work?
I think it's because of the amount of time I spent in the English countryside as a child. I would spend my days in the garden, looking after my animals, cleaning out the chickens, playing with the frogs and attending my fairy garden. I kept birds as a child and when I came across injured birds, I would take them under my wing, keeping them in my bedroom and nurturing them in till they were fully recovered. I think this is where my love of birds comes from.

Do you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors gathering inspiration for new subjects and working on pieces? 
Yes I do, but I spend a lot of time in the studio too, working out ideas and testing new materials.
I find that it's important to be open minded about where I am gathering my inspiration from, as I feel that it helps me progress my work and ideas.

Where are your favourite places to go for inspiration?
I like visiting small, quaint towns in Suffolk and also coastal areas in North Norfolk.

What are your favourite materials to work with? 
Watercolour, gouache paint and I love working with mixed medias for collaging.

What types of wildlife do you enjoy studying and painting the most?
I think I would have to say birds - of course!

Who are your favourite artists and illustrators? 
Alice and Martin Provensen, Stig Lindberg, Mark Hearld, Josef Frank, Charley Harper, Cedric Morris, John Piper.

What exciting projects have you worked on in the past, and what have you got coming up?
A lot of uni projects...I usually have a lot of small personal illustration projects that I am constantly 
thinking about and working on. I am now approaching my third year which will be one big intensive project!
I hope to illustrate my own book in the upcoming future.

What would your dream project be?
I would love to design some wallpaper and fabrics. I have recently taken up sewing and I am into dressmaking at 
the moment, so illustrating some fabrics would be wonderful.

All illustrations and photographs are credited to Polly Fern Sergeant. To see more, visit her on Instagram @pollyfern, follow her Tumblr or visit the online shop.

- Abigail

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