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Adelaide, SA, 5000

Behind The Watercolours With Watching Foxes


Behind The Watercolours With Watching Foxes

Sara Gilligan

From deep within the apple orchards of Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills, we have seen the growth of an emerging twenty-three-year-old artist, Polly Macaulay of Watching Foxes. Macaulay’s unique brand featuring work with pen and watercolour reflects her passion for animal conservation, and reveals the beauty and the innocence of the female body. Through soft and transparent colours a lot of the pieces feature minimal and clean design, while others have intricate detail in the line work.

We had the pleasure of meeting with Macaulay to discuss her new brand.

Artist, Polly Macaulay in her workshop

Artist, Polly Macaulay in her workshop

Tell us a bit about your work...

I mainly just do illustrations, working with watercolours and pen. I began making tea lights and lanterns when I started doing markets but I found I was too all over the place so I thought I will focus on my artwork, prints and gift cards. That seems to be enough for now, I’d love to branch out and maybe do some ceramic work or pottery or sculpture, but I am just trying to establish myself as more of an illustrator and more of an artist at the moment. I’ve also started doing some hand-stamped wrapping paper with stamps I create out of rubber and bits of wood.

Why Watching Foxes?

I did dabble with a few names, I didn’t just want to call myself Polly Macaulay Illustrations or something like that. I guess Watching Foxes is a nice childhood memory that I have, we grew up in the UK in Berkshire, and I have this nice memory of walking down this winding little lane and there is a family of foxes in the field near our house, and it’s sort of whimsical and cute. I feel that is sort of what I want to achieve with my work.

Where do you find your Inspiration?

A lot of other artists give me inspiration. One of my favourites is a Melbourne-based artist called Ghostpatrol, and another Melbourne artist under the name Furry Little Peach. She does a lot of watercolour stuff as well. I also feel inspired by the books that I am reading, by nature, and I love geometry and sacred geometry. I really want to start doing more with shapes.

This dream-like print set creates a floating feel

This dream-like print set creates a floating feel

You obviously have a love of animals, what else do you enjoy drawing?

I love drawing women and girls, in a non-weird way. I think the female body is a beautiful thing. I love drawing nudes, not just of stick thin beautiful models but full, curvy, gorgeous women and I think these types of figures should be represented more, especially for the younger generation.

Is there a theme to your work?

Not really, I have a couple of ongoing series that I like to do. There is the lonely animal series and I have two out at the moment. As I am very passionate about animal conservation, I like to draw attention to endangered species and such so 52 hertz is a whale that sings at an odd frequency, no other whales can hear him. Lonesome George the tortoise is one I have just released, he was the last of his kind and was over 100 years old. He died only a few years ago. So in a cute way I like to draw attention to the endangered species.

When did you begin Watching Foxes?

Funnily enough, it was when I broke my leg at the end of 2013. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t go out. I couldn’t really do anything. It was during one of the hottest summers of all time so I just sat inside and painted, and started to get a collection together. I’ve always been creative and done doodles and stuff, but this was when I really sat down and thought this is something I want to pursue.

Where do you see your business going?

At the moment I’m pretty happy. I have just been stocked in a couple of shops: Have you met Charlie? In Regent Arcade and The Council of Objects in Ebenezer Place. I [also] have an etsy shop where people can purchase my prints and cards.

I would love to branch over interstate, get my work known over there, and I am aiming to do a solo exhibition for SALA next year.

52 Hertz the whale, part of Macaulay's lonely animal series

52 Hertz the whale, part of Macaulay's lonely animal series

What are you doing when you’re not creating?

I currently work at Wheel & Barrow Homewares as well as Little Dot Bake Shop, which I love as it is a chance to be creative – not only with baking, but also styling for photos and hand making paper craft etc. I have a degree in Design and Architecture, but it is not my sort of creativity. I would love to do an art course to further my technique and maybe try my hand at teaching art and design.

Do you face any challenges with your work?

With the current trend of social media I’ve found that there is just so much out there and so much accessible that it is hard to find something that is different. You have to find a way to stand out from the crowd and it can be difficult because art is such a personal thing.

I tend to run an Instagram competition at most of my markets. I find it is a good way to get new followers, expand awareness of my brand and connect with the public through my art. It is also a great incentive to come to the market, browse and support all of the local Adelaide talent!

Do you have any advice for other artists?

Starting is the hardest part. Just apply for a market, give yourself a month or so, get a bunch of prints together and go for it! I was so nervous before my first market, by the time I was set up I wanted to pack up and go home, but I got so much positive feedback I couldn’t believe it. I honestly can’t believe that people have my work hanging in their homes. You really just have to put yourself out there and give it a go!

Go and visit Macaulay and her Watching Foxes stand at That Dapper Market on Sunday the 23rd of August from 11-7pm at 17 Park Tce, Bowden.

To view more of her distinctive work, like her Facebook page ‘Watching Foxes’ or follow her on Instagram: @watchingfoxes.

All images taken by Polly Macaulay and Georgia Macaulay