Monday, 24 February 2014


A selection of images I've drawn for Louise Lipman, who has my French Shops on her website, and wanted some more stuff.
She likes these and I loved doing them:

Friday, 13 December 2013

Biographic. On the beach. Bembridge 1955.

This was our holiday home. A huge umbrella with a tear in the side which we kids used as a secret entrance. My dad would have taken the photograph. His mum is inside; the confused little woman holding a biscuit box which probably contains the Jaffa Cakes and Ginger Nuts that would sustain our afternoons in the baking dunes and warm beach lakes of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. She's next to Julie, our cousin, along for the ride; she'll remember this. We met up last year and she remembers everything

This is all from a tiny scratched black and white print that I scanned and examined minutely to see if it held any secrets. It was a thrill to discover the Oxo tin that held the sandwiches (Sandwich Spread, naturally) and my brother's plastic boat by Mum's left foot. Sister Sharman is next to Mum; I'm posing in the middle, overjoyed at the prospect of more of that endless day to come in this glorious place; in this perfect home from home.

The floor was a sea of rugs and towels. It was our quiet room if we got too hot or tired. I don't think we went to Bembridge too often, but when we did it was always sunny and the water was bathtub hot. I think Duke (late sister Sue) wasn't around till the year after. She would have been bundled into the Hillman Minx, seen heating up on the road behind, along with the rest of us. 

We were beaten by a cyclist going up Brading Down that year. Both Mum and Dad laughed in disbelief. It must have been a really slow old car even then, or cyclists much harder, but back then we didn't care; we really did have all the time in the world.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Twist Of Fete

I've always loved comic art. The information conveyed with the least amount of time spent on shading, but a lot of time devoted to the important bits. Like the story. My comic history included The Topper, The Beezer (I wasn't allowed the Beano, probably not broadsheet enough, I suppose) and when I was seven, I found myself staring in disbelief at Dan Dare and Digby ("Suffering sputniks, Dig!...") driving Anastasia full tilt towards some hellish planet that needed a bit of firm policing. 

I can still remember the whole back page being devoted to something boring like the life of Winston Churchill or Montgomery, but the drawing was unbelievable, it was Frank Bellamy, the One True Master, wielding the steady pen, and drawing with such flair and drama that I can still remember where I was and the details. (The guns at Alamein preparing for the barrage,and a speech bubble that just said 'Blimey'). It was at the convent in East Cowes in 1957; what made the drawing extra tasty was the day before Sister Katarina had come down hard on naughty Henry Thornton who had used it. She smacked him twice on his face (they were hard bitches, all) and told him never to say it again. Yeah, right. I wonder if Jesus knew he was married to such violent, unhappy women. Maybe he should have given them more attention.

I didn't pursue the comic art thing; there were too many good people. What inspires can also be a bit over-awesome.

Anyway, it didn't stop me, years later, to produce an image of Semley village fete. All my Dorset mates are in there as well as a bloke in red trousers; Leo's there, Charlie from the Beckford, Sara and Juliet are in place; loads of dogs, and even though they weren't around; I put my daughters with their incredibly timid and emotional Irish Wolfhound, Pixie. Aww.

I loved doing it, and though my technique is necessarily rather laconic (it's just traced on Photoshop), the colours are fun; and importantly it's an attempt to get away from the more painterly, conservative stuff you expect to see that deals with life in the country. Also you get to take a few liberties if that's your wont (it is mine).
If you look closely you'll see Bob Dylan looking pretty in his Pierre Cardin suit and boots. He's listening to the band play Dirty Old Town, and probably thinking he should get back to his folk roots.

Hence the title.

Illustrating the Chalke Valley History Festival

I 've  enjoyed working as the illustrator on The Chalke Valley History Festival. This was its third year and in a very short time, thanks to the energy and vision of the organisers, has made itself an indispensable fixture of the summer.

 It's a vivid celebration of the past; not only with its incredible A-list of authors, but also its commitment to entertaining the whole family with noise, colour and fun. This year's air show on a blistering July weekend was a triumph of organisation by James Holland, who along with James Heneage, have helped given history a kick up the curriculum ladder.

My job as a graphic designer and illustrator is to create a visual difference. What could have been burnt parchment and a gothic font free-for-all is non of these things. The reason? It's too obvious, and for a start, I try and give the speakers, from Boris Johnson to Ben Macintyre, a distinct identity within the Festival itself. 

Thanks to James Holland I'm producing work I'm proud of, which is cliché - free (apart from my own, of course) and provides the event with an exciting visual currency of its own.
Where other festivals use book jackets and head shots, we produce exhilarating and colourful work which is what history deserves, as well as the public.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

PlumpState Christmas card 2012

This year's card is another pun. I was thinking of doing something with this Dorset beach picture as it was a nice and out-of-season-ish bit of colour that would stand out a bit from the crowd on the mantlepiece.

Occasionally, on a hot summer day where I lived as a child, the tide would leave cuttlefish stranded on the shingle at Southsea. (I think their posthumous fates were beak sharpeners for budgies). Occasionally a glistening mass of jellyfish were washed up. I thought a Yuletide might leave friendlier flotsam!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Blue Amy: My most popular image

My exhibition at Ashley Wood Artspace was great. The private view the best I've ever been to, and the people who braved the uncertain elements were all on fine, appreciative form. Apart from a couple, but they were too drunk to care.

Blue Amy was my best-selling print, followed by Mauve Amy and Sarah Vaughan. I'm going to design a fantasy poster that includes them and Miles. I haven't decided where they'll play, but I might put them in the Quartered Heart in Norwich, or the Uncarried Load in Portsmouth.

Thanks to Anne Clements for taking so many cool pictures (a neighbour of Amy) and Richard Grosse who suggested I include this brilliant singer as a subject...

Thanks to you all. See you next year.

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Sound Of Music: John Coltrane

There's another image of the Modern Jazz Quartet to come. They, Charlie Parker and Trane all have one thing in common; they've been up-dated at the same time, so all share a stylistic similarity; the improvised turbulences, which for want of a better word provide a narrative, or some kind of sequential element... Apologies, I did need a better word, but just haven't got the time to think about what it might be! Oh, they're all called Dream Ignitions.