Anna Crichton / illustrator / ceramicist

By Cuisine2 Minutes
February 11, 2022By Cuisine

Anna Crichton describes herself as an illustrator, ceramicist and adventurer, but even that doesn’t span all her talents. Add in her recently published book Dear Virus – a collection of daily cartoons inspired by Anna’s sharply noted yet tenderly rendered observations of life under lockdown – and embroideries and woodblock prints crafted in Varanasi and Ahmedabad in India in a collaboration with local craftspeople, and you begin to get an idea of her wide-ranging gifts.

It is her ceramic work that has most recently caught our attention, particularly her wall plates. Minutely detailed, using techniques of freehand drawing, raised dots and 3D sculptural elements, they’re part sculpture, part wall hanging, part plate – but not one you’ll be serving dinner on.

Whatever the medium, a strong streak of social commentary runs through Anna’s work, shot through with provocative satirical images, metaphor and oblique references. She wants the viewer to think and to consider the work for themselves: “Each work has a title and the title leads you into the image, gives you a hint. But I like the reader to interpret images in their own way.” Yet at other times, it’s quite simple: a kiss is just a glorious, passionate kiss, in Anna’s words, “A fully ‘immersed’ passionate embrace.” As you can see, though dealing with themes such as environmental degradation or a global pandemic, there’s plenty of time for fun and a hint of naughtiness – amid the intricately executed coloured dots adorning a wall plate, little pink nipples play peek-a-boo on voluptuously cavorting nudes.

Inspiration can lead from a seemingly commonplace observation into the realms of imagination and whimsy. The pandemic panic buying of toilet paper led Anna to think, “What can you do with toilet rolls? You can unravel them, peer through the middle, stack them…” And so rallied Mr and Mrs Dear, ready to do battle from a makeshift fort, fighting off the virus from toilet-roll ramparts.

See Anna’s exhibition ‘Mother India – Embroidered Tales’ at Newmarket’s Railway Street Gallery from 5 March to 5 April. TRACY WHITMEY