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Home Journal Kindred Tales | Sally Muir | Artist

Tell us a bit about your work and why you became an Artist?

I have been working as a knitwear designer in partnership with Joanna Osborne, as Muir and Osborne, for many years, we designed and made jumpers under our own label and also wrote knitting books, the most successful being, 'Best in Show, Knit your Own Dog' we also designed the black sheep jumper, which Princess Diana wore and which has recently been revived in the US. About 15 years ago I took a back seat in the knitting business and went to art school, since then I have been working as a painter, doing commissions and exhibiting. Dogs became my speciality accidentally, I used to paint children and the dogs just sort of crept in and gradually I was asked to paint more dogs than people.

What inspires your work?

Well dogs mainly, I’m endlessly fascinated by them, the different personalities, breeds, colours, size, shape, I’m always interested in seeing a new dog and hearing about them from their owners. I’m also very inspired by going to Galgos de Sol, several years ago, I knew nothing about Galgos and their appalling treatment, but have got very involved with them since and absolutely love drawing and painting them. I was due to go last year for another visit, and hope to get back soon.

What inspired your recent book ‘Old Dogs’?

It was really inspired by Lily, my own Whippet who is 15, I realised that old dogs are very special, you have years of getting to know each other and your idiosyncrasies sort of combine over the years. There is something very touching about the white eyebrows and wobbly legs of the old dogs. Lily has got an indomitable courage in her old age, which she didn’t have when she was younger and she won’t let her age hold her back, or prevent her doing what she wants.

What’s your earliest memory of dogs being in your life?

My parents always had dogs, we had poodles when I was a child, Pastis and Pernod, one Apricot and one brown Standard, I used to adore them and spend hours cuddling up to them Pastis was very good natured, Pernod bit me quite often, but I didn’t really care. Then we had Puddle and Pin, daughter and granddaughter of Pastis, those two were black and a lot smaller, but very amenable to being dressed up and played with endlessly, We then got Afghan Hounds in the 70’s, they were crazy, but very entertaining. I was about 25 when I got my first dog Fanny, from Battersea Dogs Home, a very hairy and opinionated, since then as a family we’ve had Dorothy, a Dalmatian, Jack Swan a Greyhound and now we have 2 Whippets Lily and Peggy.

If you could be a dog for the day which breed would you choose to be and why?

I’d definitely choose to be Lily and or Peggy, they have a life of total relaxation and love, moving from sofa to bed to patch of sun all day, punctuated by treats and snacks.

Favourite all time place to go for a long walk?

I live in Bath so there are loads of lovely walks round here, and at the moment, we’re particularly enjoying the golf course, which has a spectacular view of the other side of Bath. There is the Skyline walk round the edge of Bath, which we’ve done in sections, but Peggy, my other dog is very anti-social and doesn’t like dogs she doesn’t know, so we have to keep an eye out for strangers as she goes off like a Rottweiler.

Old Dogs by Sally Muir is published by Pavilion.

All Illustrations by Sally Muir

Kindred Tales | Sally Muir | Artist