As part of her ongoing residency in the Visual Arts department at West Dean College, Freya Pocklington gave a talk about her work to the full-time students and a number of guests. Freya gave a chronological account of how her practice had developed over the years, before going on to explain her intentions for the three-week residency. Having been brought up in the Lake District, Freya first spoke of how her father's antiques dealing meant that she was always surrounded by interesting objects (including ubiquitous Spode pottery) that instilled in her an enduring appreciation for craft, hand skills, the art of repair and so on. Another notable exposures to art included seeing David Hockney's etchings for the sets of The Rake's Progress at Salt's Mill in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, a series that underlined Hockney's ability to shift styles throughout his career, adapting his approach according to different concerns yet maintaining a constant focus on the importance and adaptability of drawing.
David Hockney - The Gospel Singing (Good People) Madison Sq., 1961-1963 from the portfolio "A Rake's Progress: A Graphic Tale Comprising Sixteen Etchings 1961 to 1963", 12 1/3 x 15 7/8 inches, 65.325.06, © David Hockney, Inc.[/caption]
Freya Pocklington at work during residency at Somerset House[/caption]
After going on to describe the importance of supplementing her practice with teaching - particularly working with children in healthcare, notably at Great Ormand Street Hospital - as well as working in collaboration with artists such as Rachel Simm, Freya described how a period of prolonged illness meant that she had to spend a lot of time indoors, often confined to her room, creating various difficulties in terms of making new work. The difficulties of this period perhaps inevitably started to come through, both in the subject matter and tone of many new compositions, perhaps referencing aspects of the work of Frida Kahlo, another artist for whom themes of autobiography and trauma would always provide material with which to work. A similar intensity of the gaze, albeit laced with wry humour, comes through in many of Freya's pieces during this time.
The restrictions also had a productive impact, however, not least the development of a new strategy for using images and stories found on the internet as starting points for new compositions. The strangeness of some of these resources would feed directly into the fantasy worlds created in the pastel and ink drawings: odd tales involving menageries of humans as well as animals, surreal landscapes, occurrences of modern technology colliding with 'primitive' cultures, and so on. With the artist no longer able to travel, technology provided a way for exotic climes and a whole slew of 'otherness' to be introduced to the work.
Freya ended the talk by outlining her ongoing research interests in the role of animals in healthcare and recovery, again describing the general context of a crossover between art making and medicine that continues to inform her work and to suggest new territories into which it can move.