I thought for the blog before Christmas I would do a short interview with artist and author Nick Sproxton, who is based in Stratford upon Avon and self-published his first work earlier in the year. Yeah yeah yeah I hear you say, everyone’s doing it these days, but what caught my eye was Nick’s personally designed and hand-made Christmas cards. So Nick, how come?
For the last 50+ years I have been making my own Christmas cards. It is time-consuming to make more than a hundred, then to write in them all something personal and, I hope, interesting to the recipient.
So you don’t fancy going digital for Christmas? Although that may cause a few problems when wanting to display them..
It’s the personal element which I hold to be of the greatest importance which is why, despite the cost, I stick with the homemade and reject the digital. Sending a digital card can be a fairly thoughtless act. Furthermore, unless you want to incur the labour and cost of printing the card you receive, it lives, un (or under) appreciated, in your in-box.
That is very true, although I am guilty of sending a digital Birthday card recently. However, on this occasion an all-singing all-dancing purple cat licking a birthday cake seemed appropriate (when would it not be?!) But tell me about the picture you’ve designed – it’s certainly unique!
Not everyone will understand my take on Christmas; I’m a non-believer but not an atheist so my attitude engenders a range of imagery that has little to do with the Bible or Christianity. This year I decided to use the front over image of my novel The Girl And The Mutant but suitably enhanced with festive trappings.
I love it – it appealed to my artistic side (such as it is) and can only agree that homemade cards are a wonderful treat. I have kept several made many years ago by my own children and the pictures of wonky Rudolphs and cock-eyed Christmas trees bring a smile to my face every year. These days we still design our own family cards – thank goodness for the Meme. Where would we be without a forlorn cat gazing at a turkey or peering wild-eyed from the depths of a Christmas tree?
But back to your book and that natty cover. For those readers still in the dark about the title of Nick’s book, The Girl And The Mutant is a dystopian young adult/teen book, and I think that the cover (and now the card) would very much appeal to that age group.
I rather liked the idea that, even in the bizarre dystopian world I describe in the book, there might still be the urge to celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of the new.
And with such an engaging title, it would be mean if I weren’t to share the opening chapter right here, right now.
Over to you Nick…
‘Sometimes when she felt exhausted or desperate she would try to recall the life she’d had before her captivity. It was her way of giving herself courage to survive. It was very difficult though because the memories seemed vague and hard to focus, as though she were looking at a landscape through rose-coloured, frosted glass. If she concentrated she imagined a beautiful life, with a mum and a dad who loved each other and their children; they lived in a cosy house with a garden full of gorgeous flowers. And yet, perhaps not everything was quite as perfect as she remembered. Didn’t her father often get drunk? Didn’t he slap her mother around and his children too if he felt like it. There were often food shortages so the garden was for vegetables, not flowers. Wages were low and there were few jobs. Her father was terrified of losing his. You have to do what you’re told and keep out of trouble, he would often say. You’re always being spied on. Everyone spies on everyone else. He too had to do it. Otherwise he’d be out on his ear.
She had a brother, Jpeg, called Peg for short. He was three years younger. They were always quarrelling because he was a pain in the arse. But how she missed him now. The thought that she may never see her family again made her want to cry. Being beaten by her father was nothing to what she was suffering now. She tried to suppress her tears. It just set other girls off and made their situation worse. And they looked on her as tough and bossy, a character which she worked hard to maintain.
The day she had been snatched began like any other. They were having the usual chaotic breakfast; her mum harassed and trying to get them ready for school, their dad rushing around in a rage saying he would be late for work and trying to stuff a sandwich into his mouth while putting on his coat. Then they had run out of milk.
‘Pop round to the shop, Sim,’ her mother had said…’
Nick Sproxton is a self-taught artist who has had a regular summer exhibition in the Chapelle St Roch, Isigny sur Mer. He works mainly in acrylics and mixed media to create landscapes and abstracts. He also works on glass, one of his commissions being to paint a window in an historical house in France.