Conversations with Catherine Jenkins

It's not often you meet someone as positive as Catherine. From graduating from Oxford to braving the transition to London from Cardiff last year, Catherine radiates a drive and determination that you can't help but be in awe of. 

I was lucky to nab her for a few hours when she made a trip back to Wales a few weeks ago. We headed to Bute Park and caught up through people watching (one of my favourite things to do).

If you could give your 16 year old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Just know what you want and then just go for it. Don't waste your time worrying and tell yourself that what you want is not achievable because you're setting yourself up to fail from the beginning and shooting yourself on the foot. 

Whereas, at 16 you don't really know what you want but you've still got a gut instinct of what you'd like to do. Just go for it, whether it's a relationship or sky diving. I think it's actually one of the best ages to be because it's before you hit your 20s, and you probably will be living in the same community that you've lived in your whole life and it's the moment you feel the most comfortable to try new things before going off to uni.

What pushes you out of your comfort zone? What makes you want to pursue something that scares you?

The realisation that, especially when you come from somewhere like the Valleys, you do need to push the boundaries in order to get out of your comfort zone. I think it is important to see more of the world, and anybody who can afford to travel or volunteer abroad should do it as it shows you different cultures and different languages. 

Different languages can show us how to think in a different way. That's so important especially when a certain language has a word for something that we don't have in English, A good example would be 'Hygge,' which is a big thing at the moment as it was felt that English doesn't really have that word. I suppose in Welsh it could be like 'cwtchy.' It's really tapped into something that people think they need in the market, as it comes in books and candles and blankets all themed around this concept, which was so unknown of before but as we live in a globalised world, they go to these different cultures and it gains traction.

Another example is a Swedish word 'Lagom,' which means moderation and living life in a moderate way and being relaxed and not feeling like you're underachieving and not pushing yourself too far either. I guess in a way it could be described as staying in your comfort zone, but also as going out in a moderate way with the knowledge of knowing your own boundaries. 

We're all on different paths and something that's scary for me; might not be scary for you, but as long as we're pushing ourselves it's okay.

If you pictured a comfort zone as one half of a venn diagram and somebody else's as the other half, and the bit in the middle where they overlap could be a comfort zone where you both feel comfortable or it could be the area where you both feel at the very edge. 

All of life really is, is a collection of moments. We all overlap onto people randomly and we might not think anything of it, but that could have a real impression on someone's narrative and their personal journey, I guess. The degrees of separation between you and someone else.

What was the last book that made an impact?

Rasputin and Other Ironies by Teffi, the main piece is about the authors memories of knowing Rasputin who is well known as such a vile person in history. She gives an intimate portrait of what he was like as a person who actually wore a lot of pink. This contrast just fascinated me.
'How I Write' which is about Teffi's writing process which made an impact as I could identify with her. She was poor and living in Paris and she had a tiny room and a tiny table where she wrote pieces. This table was everything from her sink, kitchen. She had to remove everything whenever she wanted to write. 

The last film that made an impact?
La La Land, and I actually hated it. It made an impact because it's been such a long time since I've watched a film that I've hated so much, but at the same time the damn theme tune has stayed in my head and I can't get rid of it. 

The beauty of London is that there is always something going on, so what's your favourite thing to do there?

I went to a great illustration fair which showcased young and upcoming illustrators and you could just ask them about their ideas and motives behind their work.

Sometimes I look at the colour palettes in people's work and it makes me wonder what influenced them to use pastels on a certain day or ember tones for another.

I get the same thing. A children's illustrator called Chris Riddell was at the fair and people were reading out poems as it was part of National Poetry Week and he was illustrating what came into his mind simultaneously as the poems were being read out. It was fascinating to see lines flowing out and appearing from the projector as the poets were reading out their work.

Ruth x


Post a Comment