Despite several owners, house moves and clear outs, ‘What Colour is Love’ written and illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund in 1966 has remained on our family bookshelf with no known reason to how it ended up there. My curiosity around its origin and the message within the book has meant I am unable to part with such a treasure. The simple, but relevant message about the inclusivity of love and its ability to connect with all walks of life has created inspiration at many stages of my life so far. It is because of this connection, ‘Putto and the Unexpected Guest’ was written. Following the story of a little cherub who is overwhelmed by an indescribable feeling which fellow putti describe as a feeling called ‘love’, putto embarks on an adventure of realisation and self-reflection, stumbling across this ‘love’ in his own reflection in a nearby puddle.
Taking influence from the renaissance period, juxtaposing classical imagery with a more contemporary outlook on love and its wider meaning in society today, alongside charms and tokens of love from different cultures round the world, a narrative has been built up through illustration and colour, in the form of textile design. Through the new experiences and feeling exposed to Putto, the different definitions of love are explored, alongside a new type which is yet to gain a place on the list established by the ancient greeks. ‘Existing Love’ is a term I have taken from the phrase ‘pre-loved’, which is often associated with the used or worn, yet taught through Putto’s innocence, this is redefined as cherished and transferable - poising a wider and deeper meaning between the love for people and for the planet. This is embedded throughout the collection with the use of secondhand, recycled or natural fabrics.
Interestingly, the current crisis has opened up doors which would have never been considered in the project and with the help of my lovely Instagram following, I have been able to create an additional illustrated publication of love letters, dedicating thoughtfully crafted notes of love to loved ones. People, places and objects have been the subject of these and it’s been moving to read expressions of love in such an intimate way – so thank you to those who participated and thank you to Putto for the constant reminder of the importance of love – ‘within you, within me and within these budding flowers.’