With Wonder and Astonishment

by HRM on September 5, 2011

Interview with Badaude, by Harriet Alida Lye

Badaude – (ba’daude; nf): a person given to idle observation of everything with wonder or astonishment; a credulous or gossipy idler – describes herself as a “writer with pictures”. I met Badaude (otherwise known as Joanna Walsh) for the first time in the gardens of the Musée Zadkine in Paris. We sat side by side talking for a while before going in to see the exhibition, and I noticed the way her eyes roved around, touching upon each component of my outfit, the garden, the other people around. I sensed that she was gleaning material, observing everything – eyes not idle, but alert.

Croissant Escalier

The cover of Her Royal Majesty #11 is designed and illustrated by Badaude, but you’ll see that for yourselves when the time comes. Badaude’s work has appeared internationally in (amongst others) The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Economist, Bomb Magazine, The New York Times, World of Interiors and the Wall Street Journal. She is a regular contributor to The Idler Magazine and is Psychogeography Mistress at the Idler Academy. She writes and draws a weekly column for The Times. She is based in Oxford, UK.

Her latest book, London Walks, is available from independent bookshops such as Foyles, Shakespeare & Company, and online.

Art Girls in Paris

How would you describe your job? What was your path to get to where you are now?
For years I resisted becoming an illustrator: at school art was looked on as a second-tier lesson for students who couldn’t cope with ‘academic’ subjects. I did an English degree and doodled during lectures. I don’t regret it because reading and writing are at the heart of what I do.

I still shrink a bit from being called an artist. I think it’s because what I’m really interested in is narratives and how they work: I’d describe myself as a writer with pictures.

What are the things you spend the most time doing every day?
Drawing; writing and, I won’t say cooking, but making often odd food combinations from what is in the fridge; drinking coffee; drinking wine; reading. When I’m drawing I listen to spotify or librivox.org. When I’m writing I don’t listen to anything. My last book was about walking but when I go for a walk I usually walk for most of the day so I won’t include that as an everyday activity.

London Walks

In your work, the text and images have a very mutualistic relationship. How does the page evolve in your mind, and on the page?
Some pages spring up more or less fully formed. Of course others don’t but I usually know either something I want to draw or something I want to say and work from there. By the time I’m ready to do the final drawing I know almost everything I’d like to say but I don’t like to rough things out too fully or the final drawing lacks spontaneity.

Perfumed WardrobeWhat draws you to your subject matter?
Probably paradox. Like most people I notice what strikes me as unusual. I write and draw a weekly piece about fashion for The Times newspaper (UK) and what fascinates me is not the perfection of the catwalk presentation but the way people I see in the street combine different elements of fashion: sometimes surprisingly elegantly, sometimes not, which can be even more interesting.

What are you inspired by right now?
OuLiPo. I got interested in OuBaPo – the Ouvroir de Bande Dessinée Potentielle – but I’m not sure I’ve yet seen a really engaging restriction that works simultaneously with both text and visuals but I’m determined to work on this in my next substantial piece. I just read Perec’s Tentative d’Epuisement d’un Lieu Parisien and immediately wanted to reinterpret it using pictures.

Read Badaude’s blog: www.badaude.typepad.com

Follow her Twitter: twitter.com/#!/badaude

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