Invitation to Alice’s Tea Party

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, that enduring classic loved by children and adults everywhere. A novel richly populated by some of the most curious and memorable characters in literature.

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I was delighted to find a copy of the book, hidden amongst thousands of others, in a village hall book sale recently. As I stood leafing through the pages, it was pure joy to renew my acquaintance with the charming illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

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The book was an absolute pleasure to work with, each of the little characters instantly recognisable and eternally captivating – and somehow as real to me now as they were when I was a child.

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

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This is my new book sculpture “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens”, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company for an exhibition at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, opening on 5th October.

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In this novel, Peter Pan is just a baby who flies from his nursery window and ends up in the famous Kensington Gardens in the heart of London, enjoying a series of adventures with the birds and the fairies. With this sculpture, I wanted to bring out the whimsical nature of the book and to draw out the ethereal qualities of many of the characters. For example, the fairy who sews skeleton leaves to make summer curtains, the trees that go for a walk round the park each evening and the Lord Chamberlain, who always carries a dandelion clock in case the Queen of the Gardens wishes to know the time!

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To do justice to the book, I felt it was important to draw out the playfulness of Barrie’s story and to reflect both the captivating charm of Peter’s new friends and his sense of wonderment as he attempts to unravel the mysteries of both his immediate surroundings and of the world itself.

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Peaceful English Scene

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My latest work involves three books, combining butterflies, moths and wild flowers in one sculpture, using only the images from the books themselves. Utilising more than one book at a time is a new departure for me, but I very much enjoyed working with that extra dimension that it provided.

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“A large butterfly book lies open on the table, two little wild flower books strewn casually across the top.  As though by magic, a profusion of wild flowers springs from their pages, carpeting them in layer upon layer of green fronds and an intricate kaleidoscope of floral colour. Butterflies and moths  escaping the confines of their book, now fluttering gently in amongst the flowers, alighting on their fresh and delicate petals – completing the scene of a glorious, peaceful English spring.”

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Amazing ArtHamptons

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I’m delighted to be exhibiting at ArtHamptons, which starts today with the opening night preview and runs until Sunday.This is considered to be the premiere International Contemporary & Modern art event of the summer.

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The fair takes place at the majestic Sculpture Fields at Nova’s Ark in Bridgehampton, New York. The venue is a spectacular 50,000 sq ft. modular museum-like structure, the brainchild of the late sculptor, painter and thinker Nova Mihai Popa.

Do stop by if you get the chance!

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A Trio of Strands

A slight change of pace with these new book sculptures made from three volumes of Strand Magazine annuals – all from the 1890s. I am keen for these sculptures to be kept as a set and, with this in mind, Larry Cantor of Lawrence Cantor Fine Art, Los Angeles is custom-designing a rotating stand for them.

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Not many magazines can count Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill among their former contributors. However, both contributed to the Strand at different times during its history. It was after all, one of the best and most popular magazines of its time.

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The Strand was published with the images in black and white, so I’ve added colour to give the lovely, quirky characters a little more depth.

 

Rob Roy Making Mischief

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Rob Roy was an 18th century folk hero and rogue, sometimes known as the Scottish Robin Hood. He was reputed to have been involved in cattle stealing and blackmail, which were old and at that time still honourable highland practices!

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Gentlemen of the day wore wonderful romantic fashions, with their brightly coloured coat, waistcoat and breeches costumes, long wigs and tricorn hats – all very much at odds with the violence of the Jacobite uprisings.

The illustrations in the book (circa 1890) were many and detailed, but all in black and white, so I hand-coloured them to give the piece added depth and energy.The front cover of this book is so exceptionally beautiful, with its lovely red, black and gold detail, that I wanted to preserve it and therefore have hollowed it out through the back.

 

Flitting and Fluttering

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A warm summer’s day, a kaleidoscope of butterflies and moths gently fluttering amongst the flowers, bees buzzing, birds tweeting. Delicate, beautiful, ephemeral creatures, delighting us all during their short lives.

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This book incorporates two volumes of the Handbook To The Order Lepidoptera series. The colours of the moths and butterflies are rich and bright, colour has been added only to the plants and flowers, which were originally in black and white.

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Take A Look At The Brook

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The Brook And Its Banks is a charming little book published in 1892, celebrating the diverse beauty of the animal and plant life to be found in and around our country’s brooks.

What could be nicer? A bubbling brook meandering lazily through the English countryside, home to a host of little creatures going about their daily business: feeding, nesting, tending their young – or maybe just basking in the sun and watching their world go by.

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The book was in black and white which I didn’t feel was doing it justice so it is now entirely hand-coloured. I decided on this occasion to hollow through the back of this book as I was keen to preserve this rather lovely front cover.

Look carefully amongst the dense foliage and you just might glimpse a shrew, a vole, a colourful butterfly, a sand lizard, a snail or a maybe pair of pied wagtails.

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High Testosterone Levels Between the Covers

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This book “The Captain – volume 19” published in 1908, contains six monthly issues of the Edwardian magazine by the same name – a compilation that we would call an annual nowadays.

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The book is subtitled rather delightfully, “A Magazine For Boys And Old Boys”. Certainly it is crammed full of lads shinning up drainpipes, climbing cliffs to raid gulls’ nests, fist fighting and generally getting into mischief. Simply oozing testosterone from every page!

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Packing A Double-Sided Punch

 

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This book – Punch 1853 to 1855 –  is large and particularly thick and was ideal for creating a double-sided assemblage. Adding colour to the black and white cartoons helped to bring the amazing collection of characters to life – hard to believe they’re around a hundred and sixty years old, they just seem so timeless.

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As I worked, little humorous scenes started to form within the book, bringing into focus that collection of wonderful facial expressions!

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