Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Summer: drawing closer...

Next week I'll be back in Cambridge running the Illustration for Picture Books evening class. It starts on Tuesday the 6th of May and runs for 10 weeks.

Last term was really fun and productive; as always the people on the course were full of ideas and enthusiasm. Last week one of the students, Marion, sent me some images of a couple of finished books she had been working on during the course. One is a story of an old man and the sea, and another of a little girl who loses a yellow balloon and is very sad about it (which Marion assures me now has a happy ending!);

Photos by Marion Bellier

We also had a visit from the wonderful storyteller / illustrator extraordinaire Isabel Greenberg. She very kindly came to talk to the students about her work and gave a fresh perspective on the myriad world of illustration and self-publishing. Isabel also has some gorgeous work on display at Pick Me Up at Somerset House (on until May 5th).

Another exciting piece of news is that a previous student of the course, Sally Walker, is about to start the Children's Book Illustration MA at Anglia Ruskin. Well done Sally! I'm looking forward to seeing her intricate and thoughtful illustrations published in the near future.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Paper Boleyns

I've been print happy this week, making new stock for my Etsy shop. I usually have to work on a few things at once, though, to keep me interested. So I've been letting myself get distracted by one of the most distracting women in British history - Anne Boleyn.

I love Anne's motto - 'Plurrimi Gauisus', which means 'the most happy'.
Though, as my housemate just pointed out, 'that didn't work out very well for her, did it?'
I love Tudor history and so I made this illustration with Anne and her sister, Mary, in mind. If you've read the novel The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, you might get the picture. It's a bit of a romp, but it illustrates that period beautifully.

Ripping bodices aside, they're really interesting characters, Anne in particular. I can't decide if she's a feminist icon or not; chasing the kind of status that could only be achieved through marriage. But she certainly gave birth to one.

As for the 21st Century, here's a slither of some linocut cards, which will be up on Etsy very soon. More to come.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Peace and quiet

Every so often I need to go home and get some peace. So on the spur of the moment, I came home to North Wales briefly this weekend. I've had a quiet weekend away from the city - I've been with my dog and my folks, and I revisited the places I grew up in, including the first house I lived in when I was a baby in Rhewl.

I also went to Ruthin Craft Centre. There's a beautiful exhibition there at the moment by the jeweller Kevin Coates, and an embroidery exhibition exploring identity, Construct, featuring work by eight textile artists.

I also rediscovered the work of artist Rozanne Hawksley (it's not on display but she has exhibited there in the past).

She approaches sad and difficult subject matter, like war, death and violence, and communicates them through craft, which is sometimes undermined as a medium. The materials she uses are fragile, tactile and sometimes disturbing - lace, leather, bones and animal skeletons - but she transforms them into something enchanting and also very powerful. She appears to handle everything with great care and sensitivity, which I think gives her work more impact. Some artists will go all out to shock, or to spell things out to the viewer, but Rozanne's work manages to shock and affect you deeply and profoundly without ever giving the impression that that is what she was desperate to achieve - it's effortless. 

I thought her work was particularly poignant now, as this is the centenary year of the First World War. One of her most famous pieces, Pale Armistice (see the picture above), is a haunting commemoration and subtle anti-war statement, and is on permanent display at the Imperial War Museum in London. I've not seen it in real life, but every time I see a picture of it I can't help staring at the soft, white, featherlike gloves resting gently on top of each other, forever going round and round in their wreath. Looking at it brings another sense of peace, I suppose. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Tumbling up

I'll still be updating this blog regularly but I've now set up an account on tumblr for unnervingly quick posting of illustration work, sketches, sources of inspiration and card designs. Click, click, click the link.

Friday, 11 April 2014

My shop is open!

I've opened up my Etsy shop! Here you can find handmade and printed cards, original prints and (eventually) handmade books, drawn and made by me.

The first ten orders will receive some free stickers as a gift. I love stickers, and these are very nice stickers if I do say so.

Follow the link to have a gander at the shop!