Over the past month, I’ve caught up with some of the creatives set to have their work published in Changeling Annual 2023. I’ve picked their brains on their experience of the creative process, what art means to them, and what inspires them to create. Today, let’s sit down with artist Marigold Bells.
Emmy: Hello there! Please tell our readers a little about yourself.
Marigold: My name is Marigold Bells, I’m based in the UK, and I make watercolour paintings. These paintings are normally in the genres of dark fantasy, mythology, and pop surrealism.
Emmy: Your Changeling piece, “First Frost”, is beautifully ethereal. What inspired this piece?
Marigold: This particular piece was inspired by a reference image I saw online of a ballet dancer in the pose that the central figure is in the painting. Whenever I see a particular pose, which is usually a ballet pose because I love ballet, my imagination runs wild. The world that I build usually puts human behaviours in a fantasy setting, because a lot of fantasy worlds have very human elements. In this case, my imagination placed the figure on something delicate and easily changed. It was a pond to begin with, which then changed into a spider’s web because it was an effective way to portray the frost. The colour palette was very much inspired by the “Dew Fairy” sequences from Fantasia, and I wanted to make my own painting “glow” in a similar fashion.
Emmy: How long have you been creating art?
Marigold: I started painting properly when I was about 15 years old. I started off making still-life acrylic pieces that were usually for my Art GCSE. I always wanted the items that I painted to tell their own stories or invoke curiosity in the viewer, so I’d deliberately choose objects that were a bit unusual, such as the reflection of a dead butterfly in a mirror. When I was older, about 17, I studied History of Art, which opened me properly to Classical and Renaissance art, as well as the Pre-Raphaelites. I was captivated by these beautifully made art pieces that told stories without words. Even the darkest stories were made ethereal.
Emmy: Where is your favourite place to create?
Marigold: Since I live in the UK, there are lots of old houses here, and I happen to live in one of them. It’s an unusual Victorian house with an attic, which has become my own studio. When I’m there, I paint at my easel, on my bed, on the floor, anywhere. It’s great because it’s a big room so I have a lot of space to work at different scales.
Emmy: Who was your favourite artist when you were younger?
Marigold: My family always supported my fascination with art, and fortunately they’re quite interested in art too, so I was always being taken to galleries and exhibitions and receiving books about famous artists. I think my special interest with fairy-tales and folklore started with Christian Birmingham. I had a treasury of stories by Hans Christian Anderson, and Birmingham created these gorgeous illustrations to go with them. I love how he is able to make characters look so human even when they aren’t. Another artist is Josephine Wall, who I was lucky enough to meet. Her style has very largely influenced my own, with her depictions of otherworldly figures in vibrant colours.
Emmy: What were you passionate about when you were younger?
Marigold: I was always obsessed with anything that involved the imagination and the natural world. I used to constantly be searching for the place where all these mythologies and fairy-tales and folklore were born. I wanted to visit it so that I could be a part of it, but then as I grew older, I realised that all of these ideas came from the beautiful and remarkable human mind. With the right amount of time, I could create my own stories and ideas too. I spent more time in my imagination than I did in the real world when I was a child, and that hasn’t changed much now as an adult! My imagination was fortunate enough to have the encouragement of my family, which helped it flourish.
Emmy: What is your favourite thing about creating art?
Marigold: There’s a real sense of satisfaction when you’ve successfully manifested an idea onto a page and it turns out exactly how you visualised it in your mind. It’s not easy to do at all, which is why it really pays off when you’re able to do it. It’s a great feeling. Practically, I love painting women’s faces, especially their eyes and their lips. I give them makeup sometimes because it’s fun to paint. I also like to paint hands; I always try to make them as delicately as possible. When you’re working in your favourite medium, it feels like your imagination has become a second set of eyes and hands. You don’t just feel like you’re working as one person. You and your imagination work together as something much greater.
Emmy: What is your favourite thing about being neurodivergent?
Marigold: I’m not particularly sure I have a “favourite” thing about being neurodivergent, and that’s for the sole reason that I’m only neurodivergent in a clinical setting. In the real world, I’m just me. I don’t know any different. It’s a bit like me explaining what my favourite thing is about having brown eyes. I have eyes, and they allow me to see. I have an imagination, and it allows me to create. I’m very lucky!
Emmy: Do you think being neurodivergent impacts your creativity in any way?
Marigold: I honestly can’t say whether being neurodivergent impacts my work, because I don’t know if my imagination is the result of neurodivergence. It’s just always been a part of me, a gift I was given from my grandmother and my uncle (the other artists in my family). I’ve never personally investigated it. Would I be the same person without my imagination? No, that I can say for certain. One might look at my paintings and say “she’s neurotypical”, another might look at them and say “no, she strikes me as pretty neurodivergent”, and my answer is just that I don’t know where my neurodivergence ends and I begin. I’ve never seen the world through a different set of eyes as a different person, I’ve always been one person inside a body and that’s how I’ll always be. So, I don’t find myself focusing on it too much. Instead, I just go with the flow.
Emmy: What would you say to encourage any young, aspiring artists reading this?
Marigold: My imagination is the most important part of me. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Feed your imagination as much as possible, encourage it to grow, and it’ll become a friend that you’ll never lose. Your imagination is not just a way for you to bring ideas to life, but it can also help you solve problems, come up with solutions, and see the world in a totally unique perspective.
Marigold Bells’s personal art website is marigoldbells.wordpress.com, and her art Instagram is @marigoldbells_art.
Changeling Annual 2023 will be published in Spring — keep an eye out for updates by following our Instagram.
One response to “An interview with… Marigold Bells”
I really like this interview, because it talks about creativity in such a beautiful way. I love the respect for the human mind and the love of nature that comes out. Some pics of the relevant art would be a great idea for the future. 🙂