There was an old man with a beard.....

Corrina Rothwell

I don't remember much about what used to make me laugh as a kid. The Goodies made me laugh, I do remember that. And I also remember that one of my absolute favourite books was Edward Lear's 'Book of Nonsense' which I can only assume I found amusing back then, even if I don't remember laughing at it.

Edward Lear's illustrated limericks had a profound effect on me and have been perhaps the biggest influence on my own work to date. The combination of sheer silliness and the spiky, off-kilter drawings have been a constant presence in my mental creative reference library. Lear's voice was there in my head when I began creating humourous embroideries years ago. Not just his voice but his take on life, the words he used, his whole sensibility.

I don't know who bought the Book of Nonsense for me but I suspect it was my parents. They had a taste for things that were a bit off-beat. There was a lot of anxiety and depression around at home as I grew up, but there were startling gaps in the clouds filled with sheer daftness. My mum and dad shared an affinity for the ridiculous, which of course I've only realised via the distance of time and absence. It's something I've obviously inherited (along with the other stuff, unfortunately!) and it's such a valuable legacy. Sometimes I forget, and I get very serious and inward-looking. And then something will remind me to be daft again, and everything seems a little brighter.

Humour's such a subjective thing. There are things which some people find funny that don't even make the corners of my mouth twitch. There's a lot of 'humour' out there that just leaves me cold because it's dull, predictable, cheesy, naff, boring. I like humour that's a bit edgy, I suppose. A bit dark and with an element of intelligence. Or, of course, just plain old daft.


I love the fact that people laugh at my work. I didn't set out to make people laugh. I don't actually know why I started doing humourous stuff – unless it was my inner Edward Lear finally making its way to the surface – but it is a fantastic feeling to bring joy into peoples' lives, for however short a time it might be.

Thank you, Edward, Chris and Pete. Thank you for the daftness.