Live art with Steve Lawson

Poppy in her Guildford studio above independent music venue The Boileroom

Painting a cow for the Mayor of Guildford and Surrey Hills Cow Parade

Poppy Porter is an abstract artist specialising in jewellery and airbrush painting based in Guildford, UK. She is synaesthetic meaning she has a visual response to sound, particularly music. This normal, but unusual neurological phenomenon makes a colourful inner landscape of shape, colour and movement on hearing certain sounds or listening to music. Poppy then uses this response to make bold abstract works that reflect the flow, energy and emotion of the music that inspires her.


Her artistic practice explores her visual and emotional response when listening to music. Sound is often very abstract and music the ultimate abstract art form. Music has a direct line to our feelings and the dialogue between music and emotion fascinates Poppy. Her abstracts also draw on that direct emotional response we have to music and sound. The synaesthetic part of her brain follows the music as it makes a flow of moving shapes and colours. Her artistic brain then has to translate what she has “seen” in to a sketch. The fleeting shapes and colours are hard to catch although often very memorable. It is a little like trying to draw a galloping horse! She then makes abstract and colourful jewellery from these primary sketches and will listen to the music that shapes the piece while she works.


She has two ways of working, a composed method and a improvised method. Both have equal status in her studio practice. The first will often involve setting a stone and airbrushing parts that are assembled in a formal arrangement. Although very abstract it has its roots in the grand tradition of fine jewellery. She has extensively studied custom painting and airbrushing techniques more usually associated with painting cars, bikes and musical instruments.


The other method is used in her Guitar Distortion Series and is freeform, insular and follows her own thought process. It retains the marks and deformities she encourages during making. Using precious metals she works from a molten ingot, via a rolling mill, piercing saw, hammers and raising stakes to make three dimensional the twisted sound of a distorted electric guitar.


Poppy works with both recorded and live music and part of her practice is working with solo-bassist Steve Lawson on a live art project. He plays, she draws what he plays then what she draws influences what he plays which sets up a creative feedback loop between them. This performative aspect to her practice blurs the boundary between who is composing the music and who is doing the drawing.


Previous clients have included: The Mayor of Guildford, The British Museum, The Royal Parks Foundation, Honda F1 Racing and her pieces are sought after by collectors and private clients.