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Ducks Mad Dogs & an Englishman
by Sam Toft
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Born in June 1964, Sam Toft's ambition when she was a little girl was to work in the post office. But through all the odd jobs she's had in her lifetime, including being a fire extinguisher salesman, silver service waitress, death grants advisor, catering manager, civil servant, student, au pair and job-seeker, she never did manage to get a position in the post office! Similarly Toft has lived in 10 English towns, 1 French town and has now returned to England, living in Brighton.
After graduating from Kingston Polytechnic with a BA in Applied Social Science, Toft drifted from the Civil Service to Catering Management, but neither fully satisfied her. Deciding that she needed a change in direction, Toft moved up to Liverpool and did a BTEC in General Art and Design at the City of Liverpool Community College where an inspirational tutor by the name of Hering gave her the confidence to fully explore her talent for drawing.
Toft began making handmade cards and wedding invitations with her illustration and caricature work. For the past twelve years, Toft has been working as a mixed-media artist, employing various materials such as oil pastels, coloured inks, scrafitto and the innovative finger-and-thumbs technique.
Toft is most well-known for her series of paintings featuring the character “Mr Mustard” whom she ‘met’ a while back dawdling along the sea front. Mr Mustard dons a bright mustard yellow coat and is always featured with his back towards the audience, walking along the coastal scene doing various activities such as carrying balloons, walking the dog, cycling and looking up to the horizon. His two dogs – a black one and a spotty Dalmatian one – are never far behind him.
Toft's illustrations of cheery and Mr Mustard have appeared on numerous greetings cards and limited edition prints, and her paintings have also appeared in galleries and art fairs. Indeed, her own brand of English eccentricity sells very well both in the UK and America.
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