Interview: Why The 1990s Inspires London Artist Sal Freckles

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It’s less than a month until our ‘90s themed exhibition, Don’t Look Back In Anger, and very we’re proud to say that we have lots of artists contributing to it. Many of those artists featured at our last event, Changes, but, others like Sal Freckles, are new to the fold, and come bearing fresh concepts and ideas.

Sal Freckles is an all-round creative from London who juggles being a mum with producing amazing works of art. She’s an educator, illustrator, photography dabbler and serious “hip hopaholic” whose portfolio spans many styles and mediums.

As someone who lived through the 1990s as a teenager, Sal remembers the decade with adolescent longing and uses this feeling to drive her work.

We caught up with Sal for a chat about her work and life outside of it. Here’s what she to say.

 How would you describe what you do in a creative capacity?

At the moment, I have so many pent up ideas! I’m exploring and putting them out there as much as I can using different styles and media.

As well as music-inspired canvases, prints and cards, I’ve created and painted mural designs for children’s rooms and nurseries.

Which key themes do you focus on in your pieces and why?

My main themes are music-inspired images – particularly hip hop – and the samples used to create them.

Fashion crosses into my art too. On various occasions I’ve done illustrations of groups of people in various 90’s attire enjoying a club scene or striking a pose!

Club Scene

Which mediums do you most tend to work with?

At the moment it’s very much acrylic paint. I like how adaptable it is – it can be watered down or applied thickly, allowing one to build up a flexible texture. It’s been really satisfying using it to create the grooves in the records I’ve painted!

I’m also a big fan of pen and ink, which I use for the illustrations I do. Recently been revisiting lino printing, which I did a fair bit of in art lessons at school – in the 90s!!!

It’s nice to make limited edition reproductions that are all still a little unique – ultimately their character depends on where the ink rests!

Who are your main creative influences?

First and foremost, my mum, who was always saving scraps of fabric and making clothes.

Then my dad! He was always drawing at the weekends and used to take me and my brother to his workplace, art college. We’d do screen prints and draw all day. He still draws us a birthday card each year.

Artist wise, I’m a big fan of Salvador Dali. I love his surreal paintings, and loved them even more after visiting his museum in Spain.

I also dig Chris Riddell’s and Graham Rounthwaite’s illustrations.

I don’t feel I have one style of working myself. My art is adaptable to my mood, or to what I’m drawing, but it’s definitely my own.

How difficult is it balancing being an artist, educator and mum?

Well – I had my first daughter soon after finishing my studies. Rather than diving straight into a graphics workplace, I paused to raise my three children, along the way incorporating art into my activities with them. Their nursery ran a craft session for parents which served as a great creative outlet for me.

Being in a nursery environment inspired me to follow a career in early years teaching, which would fit in with my children’s schooling, but also give me the opportunity to use my creative skills with the children I work with.

A few years ago, I bought some canvases, and made the decision to give up my weekend job with the promise to myself that I would spend the time with my children.

However, as they’re older now, and don’t need my 24/7 supervision, it’s freed up “art time” for me. That art time has inspired them too, I think. Two of them studied art in their GCSEs so it’s certainly rubbed off. Conclusion – the “juggle” has been successfully mastered!

To what extent has the ‘90s as a decade come to shape your art?

The 1990s were my teenage years! You know, the college days – that time when you’re at the peak of exploring your freedom and social life.

The British club scene was great for hip hop and R&B; fashion was fantastically free; and we had Choice FM and Kiss FM playing a wide range of music – not just playlists as they do now.

So these are the memories I’m putting into my art right now. Am I stuck in the 90s??! Perhaps a little bit. Back then we didn’t have camera phones, so the visualisations I’m creating now are an important way of remembering the past.

Breakdance drawing

What’s your lasting memory of the ‘90s?

The music, the music!! Hip hop with dope beats and lyrics; music video channels; R&B creating a great vibe on the dancefloor.

Then there were magazines like Touch, Hip Hop ConnectionThe SourceVibe and True, as well as films like Boyz n the HoodJuice and Mo’ Money, which you could see at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for £1 on a Thursday.

Not forgetting the ‘90s nightclub scene in London which gave us such venues as Legends, Iceni and Hanover Grand.

Taking my two daughters to see the firework displays 1999/2000, aged 21 months and 2 months, was another memorable point!

What sort of message do you hope to get across at our Don’t Look Back In Anger exhibition?

I’d like to encapsulate that happy party feel we had in the club: trendy, funky people and dancers doing their thing like one big family!

How can people get in touch with you? 

You can reach me on any of the following:
Instagram: @sal_freckles
Twitter: @Sal_Freckles
Facebook: Sal_Freckles’ doodles and illustrations

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