Archive for May, 2017

Major Project: I’m back!

It’s been a while since my last blog post as I’ve been trying to sort through my ideas for the next stage of this project by writing ideas on countless pieces of paper and doing some experimentation pieces in sketchbooks to work out the style and format of my new illustrations. I’ve also updated this website with new illustrations (thanks to Grish Art for putting it all together for me).

I’ve slowed things down a little after a couple of hectic months producing a whole new body of work for a solo exhibition at Portsmouth Guildhall called ‘A Summer of Love’. This gave me the opportunity to focus on a theme and produce work that showcased my style. The show is on until 21st June and has been featured on the CCI and Strong Island websites.

So here’s a short description of what my Major Project will be:

A series of watercolour and ink illustrations which celebrate the variety of birds living in The Westwood that, when hung together in any combination, form a ‘birdscape’. Miniature prints of these illustrations on cards will create an ‘ever-changing birdscape’ contained within a box. This project hopes to inspire people to appreciate their nearby nature that so often gets taken for granted. A percentage of sales from products, prints and originals will go towards the RSBP.

The plan (maximum target):

1a) An exhibition of ‘Birds of the Westwood’ at a venue in Southampton in July and an online portfolio

1b) ‘Birds of The Westwood’ box of cards in an edition of 20 – an ‘Everchanging Birdscape’ for sale online and in the café (including ‘in aid of RSPB’ logo)

2) ‘A Summer of Love’ Exhibition @ Portsmouth Guildhall and an online portfolio.

3) ‘Butterflies of The Westwood’ (Large illustrations for Hampshire Open Studios exhibition in August)

I also have a number of commissions to complete over the coming months too, including a large painting for a cafe in Southampton…more information coming soon!


‘Making Nature: How we see animals’

I have lots of reading to get through but I couldn’t resist these (below)…The bottom three I bought at the Wellcome Collection when I visited their exhibition ‘Making Nature: How we see animals’ (left).

The exhibition shows how we have recorded and classified animals throughout recent history and given a hierarchy of importance to certain creatures over others. The methods of hunting animals, stuffing them or using them for their fur, feathers or skin was seen a way to engage with their worlds…but now we know that this has contributed to many animals being on an endangered list!

Putting animals into zoos is one way of learning about them, however, there is still a degree of separation – a belief that we are the most important species and giving attention to those animals we feel are more interesting, exotic and rare. Surely it is better to immerse yourself in animals natural habitats with as little impact as possible? Really looking at every creature with the same awe and curiosity. This way we are able to see ourselves as animals too avoiding the temptation to value one creature over the other just because they are more colourful or scarce.

What next?

For my next series of illustrations I came to the conclusion that I would need to put a limit on the number of birds I draw because I have seen so many in the Westwood in the past 5 months. I also don’t want to give any importance to certain species over others. I want this to be a true account of the birds that I saw on one walk through the woods. Taking inspiration from my previous ‘creative un-block’ challenge, ‘Blockvember’ I will set myself a few limitations in order to help me come to decisions:

– One day, one walk, 10 birds, 10 wild flowers.

– One magazine from the 1950’s called ‘True Story’. 10 clippings. 10 adverts for products. I enjoyed using adverts and stories from the old newspaper in my work for ‘A Summer of Love’ so have decided to continue this style.

– A more stylised way of working, this experiment below shows the kind of illustrations I’d like to create and use a bit of 50’s typography too.

The idea behind using these adverts for products related to the fact that the land next to The Westwood, which is now part of the nature reserve, used to be a landfill site in the 50’s – 80’s. This juxtaposition of consumerism and nature is present to challenge the audience: ‘If animals don’t need these products to be happy or healthy why should we?’ Still to this day companies tell us that we need this make up, cleaning product or hair spray to be a happy, successful and loved human.I believe that the closer the relationship we have with nature, the less we feel we need to be happy. Nature can inspire us to be more creative and satisfied with less. Since the closure of the landfill site in the 80’s nature has reclaimed the area and masked what lies beneath. If we stop interfering with wildlife and their habits the world would eventually heal itself…but we still have a long way to go when most of the world still buys into consumerism and capitalism.