January 13, 2017 § 2 Comments
…not ‘just’ Poetry Book of the Year but Book of the Year!! And why not? Congratulations to Kathleen Jamie for ‘The Bonniest Companie’, a brilliant anthology of poems, for which I was honoured to produce a cover artwork and which has recently won the Saltire Society ‘Book of the Year Award 2016’ (as well as ‘Poetry Book of the Year’!). Working with poets is my favourite kind of illustration, less words = more pictures, (only joking!!). Here’s to more poetry in 2017, especially given the new powers in charge; after all, who really wants a ‘war of the worlds’…?
PS. Congratulations to Waterstones in Edinburgh for the lovely display, and the collage technique…are you running workshops?
November 1, 2016 § 3 Comments
I just read about a mother being told she couldn’t breastfeed her small baby in ‘Mothercare’, a shop which, I think, would like itself to be a well known store for mothers and, erm…babies, those noisy little things that occasionally need food! Well, good luck to her, when we seem to live in a world where companies claim this and that for retail purposes, and yet act in an entirely contradictory fashion in terms of genuine empathy, help and support. What has happened? Store assistants, if we are going to be ‘american’ about it, are there to provide something called ‘assistance’ which is meant to be helpful, I think. Any new mother who has been out with a small child knows the stress, the feeling of disapproval, when one’s child becomes noisy. Yet getting a breast out, in the real world, however discreetly, is somehow controversial. Better to conjure up some formula ‘milk’, made from the eye sockets of tuna fish and other waste products, YUM!
I feel sorry I didn’t attend The Slade all those years ago, like my excellent and unbeatable counterpart Justin Mortimer and various other proper artists I know, because it seems that the way the world is going, in terms of corporate blockbuster exhibitions where artists are unwelcome; the education of young children who used to be allowed to ‘make a mess with poster paint’ but aren’t anymore, and that of art students attending colleges whose tutors don’t know how to draw; there is no hope for people like ‘us’ anymore…
As you can tell from the above image, I didn’t get any decent drawing done, I could blame it on the fact I spent most of my creative energies filling in forms, but maybe it is just down to the fact I don’t get to do any proper drawing anymore…it’s bollocks, and not the dogs’ either!
September 13, 2016 § 3 Comments
An exhibition currently running at Paxton House, until 31st October, celebrating the book ‘Where My Wellies Take Me…’ which I was commissioned to illustrate by the writer Michael Morpurgo in 2009.
As well as the fifty or so framed works, which include original spreads from the book, etchings and paintings, there are several display cases with work in progress…
Having never illustrated a book before, I did everything the wrong way, including making a full size mockup of the book to work out how many pages the finished thing would be.
I also went camping in Devon, to do my research, part of which was mapping out the local landscape which is the geography of the book itself.
The best thing about the book is that it is written and drawn (I supposed) by an eight year old, so it was a fantastic opportunity to learn about all sorts of things like wildlife, and erm, how to draw…(not mastered that one yet, but keep practising!).
In the display cases are things no-one normally sees, all to do with how the book was made including some etching plates, which I used for some of the pages, and also one of my favourite things, the matchbox that Michael lent me when I was camping in their garden. I later painted this matchbox in the book…
By a series of misfortunes I was lucky to land myself in the lap of the villagers and to get to know many very kind people, all of whom helped to a great extent with my work on the book, and some of whom even modelled for characters in it, so thank you once again to the good people of Iddesleigh!
All this, and the finished article, is now on display at Paxton House. For more information please get in touch, www.paxtonhouse.com
There is also a wonderful Michael Morpurgo exhibition on at Seven Stories in Newcastle, also featuring some of the ‘Wellies’ & ‘War Horse’ work. Please visit www.sevenstories.org.uk
September 11, 2016 § Leave a comment
Artwork for Slightly Foxed Autumn Edition 2016. The brief was to create an Autumnal local landscape, preferably with a fox in it somewhere, and that it should be apolitical, so I desisted doing something to do with the hunt, and did this instead.
I hope the Slightly Foxed readership approve, and, after receiving several enquiries, I am pleased to say that there will be a print available of the original. More details at http://www.alisoneldred.com, coming soon.
August 8, 2016 § Leave a comment
An anthology of poems reflecting on age, by 35 of Scotland’s best-loved poets. Several of the poems refer to the sea, and sailing boats…
This is the poem from which the title was taken, and one of several which I chose as motivation for the final artwork.
Push the boat out, compañeros,
push the boat out, whatever the sea.
Who says we cannot guide ourselves
through the boiling reefs, black as they are,
the enemy of us all makes sure of it!
Mariners, keep good watch always
for that last passage of blue water
we have heard of and long to reach
(no matter if we cannot, no matter!)
in our eighty-year-old timbers
leaky and patched as they are but sweet
well seasoned with the scent of woods
long perished, serviceable still
in unarrested pungency
of salt and blistering sunlight. Out,
push it all out into the unknown!
Unknown is best, it beckons best,
like distant ships in mist, or bells
clanging ruthless from stormy buoys.
The proofs & finished work are on display at the workshop: www.lomenechgill.com
For more information about the book: www.birlinn.co.uk/Whatever-the-Sea.html
And to find more poems like this: http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk
July 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
The exhibition focuses on illustration work from the book ‘Where My Wellies Take Me’ and for the concert and reading of ‘War Horse’, both commissioned by the author Michael Morpurgo who will be coming to do a talk at Paxton House in October.
For anyone wanting to make a day trip, Paxton House is a beautiful venue in the Scottish Borders, with a fascinating history, some great examples of the Scottish National Art Collection in the main house, and, for those who know their chairs, a particularly good collection of Chippendale and William Trotter furniture. Also there are lovely grounds to explore, with play facilities for families, and most importantly, a good tearoom!
The Exhibition Opening is on 28th July, please get in touch if you would like to receive an invitation. Friends and family welcome.