Laura Wall: My Favourite Places
When Muddy Devon launched back in January (that long ago, already?!), we featured the brilliantly talented Teignmouth-based artist and children’s book author/illustrator Laura Wall. Her series of Goose books have honked their way to the hearts of kids all over the world and, guess what? The next title, Wild Goose, has just been released. A little different to the rest, the words are rhyming in this one and, as the name suggests, it’s all about getting the kids out into nature, which is kinda cool, right?
Laura meanwhile, has been busily getting out there into the media jungle to promote the book. She’ll be popping up over the coming weeks for readings and signings, so get yourself along to Waterstones in Drakes Circus, Plymouth on Sat 29 April, for a book reading and wild art activities; or head down to Cornwall’s Eden Project on Sat 6 May.
But how, you may ask, does she find time to enjoy actually living in Devon? Beats me, but here she is, sharing her favourite places here and beyond. Over to you, Laura! *Honk*
I love Shop Dead Gorgeous – there are a few now in Devon, one in Totnes and in my own town Teignmouth. I can’t get enough of the quirky curio’s that have been lovingly sourced by the owners of these gorgeous shops. Whether it be egg cups in the shape of peacocks, butter dishes emblazoned with a flock of seagulls, or the cutest dog bowl (yes I have one for Roxy dog) I could spend hours in here!
In the summertime me and my husband Dave love picking out walks from the South Devon Wild Swimming Walks guide. One of my favourites starts at Churston, near Paignton and follows the coast (via a drink at the 15th Century Churston Court Inn where Agatha Christie would come and stay) to Brixham. On the way is the old bath house – now a ruin – that Lord Churston built. You meander to Elberry cove and through the woods that drop into Brixham, it’s a good two – three hour circular walk. Roxy dog loves jumping in all the coves and we often stop for a swim if it is hot!
Inspiration for work
Living in South Devon there is inspiration all around me. However one of my all time favourite spots has to be sat at The Ship Inn on Back Beach in Teignmouth. After work on a summer’s day there is nothing more satisfying than bundling off to the pub for a glass of wine and watching the sun set over the estuary. Teignmouth is so unique because it has a front beach which faces the sea and gets the sun in the morning and lunchtime, and then there’s the back beach, hidden away behind some colourful beach huts and old fisherman’s cottages. It is protected from the wind and backs onto the Teign estuary where the sun gloriously sets. It is both the most peaceful hidden gem of a place and yet alive with so much activity. Parents come to drink whilst their children play on the beach darting between little rowing boats, dogs run around jumping in the sea, and the harbour wall is lined with friends chatting with a drink in hand, all content with just being in this unique place. I have painted back beach (sometimes known as River Beach) many times – it is a firm favourite!
For Nights Away
I adore Tenby in Wales. This picture perfect place is a great source of inspiration – because to look at it it is just that – perfect! This place requires no artistic license when being painted. The pastel coloured houses circling the Naples yellow beach, the colourful fishing boats with their weathered owners tinkering away, placed as though by a film crew ready for a shoot, is both calming and exciting to be in. It feels as though you are walking through an old film set, its quaintness not yet tarnished by large retail chains, but holding on strong to its independent shops and past. It’s no surprise I got engaged here…it is a thoroughly romantic town and will always be a special place to me 🙂
One of my favourite countries has to be Borneo. I went with my husband on our honeymoon, we travelled from the Malaysian North of the Island to the South through Brunei. It is a spectacular country with so much wildlife, between travelling we would spend the days just walking. We never met any one else. I shall never forget whilst trekking through one forest, along with a host of other alien sounds, we could hear a rustling of the trees from a distance and bizarre calls, the sound got closer and closer, until suddenly a group of Proboscis monkeys jumped over our heads and through the trees, the noise was deafening! What a sight and a feeling!
It’s not just the wildlife though, the people are incredible too. We stayed with the Iban people one night when we were caught out by a storm in the rainforest. We ate and slept in a longhouse where we were made to feel welcome by the chief and extended family. A longhouse is just that – a long wooden house on stilts shared by several families with their own individual dwellings, but connected by one communal corridor. Even now I can hear the sound of the rain on the roof whilst we sat on the floor of a family’s house. An old woman sat above the rest of the family on an old fashioned fabric sofa smiling (I thought how did they get that there?!) whilst we all sat on the wooden floor with the women who were weaving baskets. We spoke in broken english gesticulating animatedly to each other sharing stories from our countries. It was magic.
You can find Laura at work in her studio in Teignmouth. Her new book, Wild Goose is out now. www.laurawall.com