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GNCCF Manchester 2018 Part 2

October 17, 2018

Welcome back to this weeks second post, featuring some of the exhibitors from this year’s Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. See my previous post here for more of the designers who attended.

Mandy Cleveland starts us off today with some beautifully illustrated, framed and re-purposed envelope art.

I hadn’t come across the great print designs from Posner and Posner. Makers of hand-printed, contemporary textiles, their designs and illustrations focus on line, repeat pattern and colour contrasts. With distinctive fabric which is screen printed in their studio and used for homewares, clothing and accessories. The collection sits together colour-wise very well and the patterns feel fresh and vibrant.

When I first saw the floral sculptures from Linda Southwell I thought they were made from felt, as their surface suggested the same texture. On closer inspection I discovered they are in fact ceramic and made from either a groggy clay or a fine porcelain. Inspired by a variety of plant forms, Linda’s sculptures bring the outside in and give a permanence to natural forms. Great patience Linda, they look amazing.

I loved the art pieces from Rachel Cooke. She makes multi-textured, wall-hung and wearable art using her own handmade ceramics, salvaged materials and vintage tiles. Rachel enjoys working intuitively, experimenting with different texture and colour combinations to make each piece unique.

For me, Rachel’s work has a timeless retro feel to her art forms. Beautiful ceramic/mosiac, suggested landscapes with a splash of other media to add variety, texture and shape to each artwork. She also runs classes so you can make your own art, check out the details on her site.

Miriam Griffiths is one of two companies showing wonderful knitwear that caught my eye. Based in Sheffield, all the pieces are lovingly made from high quality, locally sourced fibres with a focus on using natural materials. Great to see some Menswear pieces too.

The second knitwear company was Heather Chamberlain. Luscious greens and linear shapes defined Heather’s collection. Autumnal scarves, wonderfully soft to the touch with a naturally rolled edge. I wanted a jumper made out of them.

Some familiar and striking work from The Courtyard Pottery’s David Ashby.

David’s work is a familiar ‘face’ on my blog. He lives and has a workshop in Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. His work is wheel thrown and slip decorated, with a mixture of wax resist, inlaid colours and scraffito. He’s inspired by the paintings and intuitive mark making of painters like Antoni Tapies, Robert Rauschenberg and Jean -Michel Basquiat. Bold, busy and distinctive.

Next to David was G R Hawes  with some beautifully coloured and shaped glass pieces. ” My work encompasses small batch production for galleries and retail outlets through to large scale lighting and bespoke commissions for individuals, hotels around the world and well respected lighting and chandelier companies. My work includes the use of many traditional glassblowing techniques combined with a very contemporary edge. ” I really admired the shape within a shape, colour within a colour idea.

Hiro Takahashi had an intriguing stand with a collection of small containers on the top of each sat a small creature, these were her ‘Soul Houses‘. Hiro’s ceramic work focuses on intricate textures, forms and architectural pieces. Her distinctive narrative approach can be seen in other works: Message box and Tree of life. They all depict a reflection of her life in past & present.

I also admired Hiro’s mosiac or fragmented animals. Each beautifully textured and looking like its been unearthed from some ancient architectural site. Fascinating work.

I wonder why these retro looking shapes caught my attention ! Great work from Line Mortensen, who is a Danish contemporary mosaic artist based in Scotland. Her Scandinavian heritage and architectural background shines through in her sculptural objects which are imaginative, detailed, textured and abstract.

Finally, my favourite artist from 2018’s show is Frances Noon. Based in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, Frances makes small, humorous sculptures of animals and birds. She uses jewellery techniques to shape and solder base metals, these are combined with a coloured wooden element to form woodland scenes, boats and sheds where an incongruous scale is predominant and humour prevails.

There’s so much love and joy that shines out of her work, it made me smile as soon as I saw it. Spending more time browsing her pieces, just made me like it all the more. It’s definitely the stories that each piece conjures up in the viewers mind (or perhaps it’s just my imagination that works overtime) that makes each artform both precious and absorbing.

A cool collection of sheds above and some quirky creatures below.

Some great wall plaques too. Pop over to her site here and see more for yourself.

Many thanks to everyone who kindly allowed me to photograph their beautiful work and took the time to talk a little about how they make, mould, form and fabricate the great array of crafts I’ve seen again this year at the GNCCF. Do pop over to their sites, buy something direct from the makers, share my posts so that more people can get to see what fantastic talent we have in this country. As ever, your comments are very much appreciated too.

















GNCCF Manchester 2018 Part 1

October 15, 2018

Hello everyone and apologies for the slightly later post time today as I’ve been chasing my tail trying to assemble and get this out to you today. It’s turned into a bigger post than expected, so I’ll be releasing part 2 later in the week. Over the weekend I visited the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and took in a broad selection of the 150 of the UK’s most talented designer-makers and artists. The show is now in it’s eleventh year and also had new events in both Newcastle and Sheffield during 2018.

Let’s start with a jeweller who’s work I’ve seen develop over the past few years, Libby Ward. Libby’s design approach is based on experimental methodologies, she has a passion for juxtaposing unusual and an unexpected mix of materials using a myriad of making processes in order to create thought provoking jewellery. The tactile nature of Libby’s work aims to connect people with textures and re-evaluate how they perceive preciousness through materials.

Libby’s work always feel organic, unearthed somehow, and never fails to surprise and delight.

Lovely to chat with ex-ceramist Karen Suzuki who is now a textile artist with a company called Nameless Wonders. Her work shows, creativity, expression and is often a little on the dark side… in a Darth Vader kind of way lol

I thought her Prancing Pup was a great nod to her days as a ceramicist, and her pigeon looked like he’d just flown in to join the show! Lovely work Karen.

Next up we have a selection of homeware ceramics from Judit Esztergomi. Judit makes wheel-thrown and press-moulded tableware. Her simple and round forms provide the blank canvas for her patterns, with her favourite decorating techniques being sgraffitto and inlay. Inspiration has various sources: the folk pottery of her motherland, Hungary; the country’s waving landscape silhouettes; the wind as it blows meadow grasses.

I think that Judit has a great eye for colour and love how her ceramics have a fossil like quality to them. The pieces on the shelf show how her wonderful sense of movement in the decoration, makes your eye float along each piece. Her meadow collection and groggy clays also spoke to me of rustic, countryside travels.

A few fun, yet practical, kitchen spatulas from wood turner and ex-toymaker Tim Foxall. Obvioulsy the rather sedate looking dogs caught my eye.

I really admired the detail and skill in the work of Lucy Jean Green. Her beautiful framed hand cut paper automata were too difficult to capture well behind glass  so here’s a few images from her website.

And this wonderful three part Owl, all apparently made to scale ! Impressive work.

For the ephemera collector among you, you can’t fail to admire the work of Paper pioneer Jennifer Collier. She creates exquisite sculptures from vintage materials in conjunction with stitch; a contemporary twist on traditional textiles. The papers serve as inspiration and media for the work, with the narrative suggesting the forms. This marriage of unlikely materials transforms old papers into something unique, delicate and complex.

Great to see vintage turned functional with this array of hand assembled paper lampshades.

Less functional, but equally as wonderful, are these Penguin Books Cup and Saucer, typewriter or camera.

A greatly re-purposed book of British Birds turned nesting box. A stitch in time as they say !

Last entry for today comes from Lydia Mary. Lydia is a print designer and illustrator specialising in screen printing to create illustrative and playful ranges of textile and paper homewares and accessories. Illustrating the world around her, she is heavily influenced by the narrative and decorative nature of folk and outsider art.

Her work has a child centered yet sophisticated feel to it. Fun and quirky and full of the kind or lines that makes you smile. Cards, prints and colouring wall charts, there’s something for everyone here.

Please join me later in the week for part 2 and remember to leave your thoughts and comments below. Thank you.







Walt Peregoy Mid century background artist with Disney

October 8, 2018

Walt Peregoy was born in Los Angeles in 1925. He spent his early childhood on a small island (Alameda, California) in San Francisco Bay.

He was nine years old when he began his formal art training by attending classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley, California.  At the age of 12, Walt’s family returned to Los Angeles, where he enrolled in Chouinard Art Institute’s life drawing classes.

At the age 17, he dropped out of high school and went to work for Walt Disney as an in-betweener.


In 1942, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard and served for three years in the Infirmary as a 1st Class Petty Officer. After World War II he continued his art education, studying at the University de Belles Artes, San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico, and with Fernand Léger in Paris.


In 1951, Walt returned to the United States and resumed his career with The Walt Disney Studios. Although skilled with these more conventional projects, his personal style began to surface. Walt’s unique style began to meshed well with that of his contemporary, stylist Eyvind Earle.

Walt and Eyvind’s work on Paul Bunyan (1958) was nominated for an Academy Award in the short category.























Their unique style of animation on Paul Bunyan was a departure for Disney. Walt continued to work at Disney for an additional 14 years.























He was lead background painter on Sleeping Beauty (1959)


















Before embarking on the most ambitious, intelligent, and personal effort, his work as color stylist and background artist on One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), and The Sword in the Stone (1963).

He later worked on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969), and other series produced by Hanna-Barbera.

He returned to Disney (WED Enterprises in 1977 through 1983), contributing his unique view to the design of Epcot Center in Florida, where his influence included architectural facades, sculptures, fountains, show rides, murals and pavilions. This study drawing was done for his design work at the Epcot Center, in the Land and Imagination Building.

More backgrounds from other films.



Along with Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle and Joshua Meador, Walt was one of the featured artists in Disney’s Four Artists Paint One Tree documentary. This documentary illustrated the unique interpretation that each artist can bring to a single subject matter.

Walt’s work has been the subject of one Man Shows at: Stockton Museum, California; The University of Santa Clara, California; Galerie de Tour, San Francisco, California; Rutherford Gallery, San Francisco, California; Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, California; Landau Gallery, Los Angeles, California; Dickie Hall Gallery, Laguna, California; Jack Carr Gallery, Pasadena, California. He has also participated in group shows at: National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C..


He taught Background Styling at Brandes Art Institute from 1984–1985 as well as Principle of Drawing.

In the last years of his life, he continued to draw and paint in the Los Angeles area.

He was well known for being an artist with a strong belief in his work and someone who wasn’t afraid to speak their mind. He had disagreements with Walt Disney himself and even aired his views about the reality of working for Disney in a speech he gave when he was nominated for a Disney Legend Award in 2008.

It’s interesting to hear this because it shows a truer side of life at the Disney studios. His great granddaughter Jennifer Guzman said about the Awards ceremony…

” The rest of the people honored that day spoke for 2 to 3 mins. I think Uncle Walter would have gone much longer than these 10 mins if they hadn’t taken him off stage. I love how the band started trying to play him off… he will only speak louder.”

A great individualist and a true artist.







UK Books, Fairs and lots of Interest.

October 1, 2018

Hi everyone, I have been recently contacted  with news of some exciting fairs and exhibitions in the next few months.

Firstly there are two Illustration + Print Fairs (hosted by Ink Paper + Print), which are a celebration of contemporary and vintage illustration. The first is on 13th-14th October at the Towner Gallery which isn’t too far from Brighton, and hosting some great names like the Emma Mason Gallery, Ruth Green, Jane Robbins and Alice Pattulo to name but a few.  The second, is on 27th and 28th October at the Winter Gardens in Margate and the Turner Contemporary, both events are free !

The second piece of news is a new book by Jonny Hannah from The Mainstone Press.

The idea for this book emerged over a reasonably priced pint of lager in a cavernous Southampton Wetherspoons. The venue is relevant, reflecting as it does Jonny Hannah’s preoccupation with the everyday.
The themes that permeate his work are eclectic and display a deep interest in popular culture – music, fashion, literature and more. But exactly who is Jonny Hannah … and why does his alphabet contain twenty-seven letters? Is he a: knitted-tie enthusiast? pétanque aficionado? grass skirt fanatic? B-movie connoisseur? Northern Soul groover? Yes he is. And much more besides …

Dive into the pages of Fast Cars & Ukuleles and immerse yourself in a world where British tradition and the quintessentially English meet Celtic folklore and Americana. Jonny Hannah’s beautifully crafted typography leaps and dances from page to page, bursting with irreverent energy and creativity. By the time you reach Z and beyond, expect your sense of fashion, music and culture to have been turned – delightfully – inside out and upside down forever. Jonny Hannah is an illustrator and printmaker. Now based in Southampton, he studied illustration at Liverpool School of Art and Design and London’s Royal College of Art.

His illustrations,have appeared in a wide range of,publications including the Sunday,Telegraph, New York Times and Vogue. He runs the Cakes & Ale Press which produces screen-printed books, posters and prints and, most recently, he has extended the concept of illustration beyond the printed page to a fully roadworthy Darktown taxi.

If you find yourself in Manchester around the 13th and 14th October then the Buy Art Fair is on at Manchester Central, Windmill Street, Manchester. The Art Fair is the most prestigious in the North. Over 120 galleries and artists will be selling thousands of modern & contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography and prints at a wide range of prices.

Also on the same weekend is this years’ Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair Manchester 2018. Open 12/13/14th October at Upper Campfield Market Hall, Barton Street, M3 4NN, Manchester.

Now in it’s eleventh year, this show will feature over 150 of the UK’s top designer-makers. For those of you outside of the UK, I’ll be covering the event as usual and will report on all that is new in a post nearer the time.

Finally there was a recent exhibition in London, featuring the work of Emily Sutton. Here are a few of her beautiful artworks created this year.

Emily has a wonderfully sensitive touch and a great eye for composition, colour and detail.

These landscapes are so descriptive.

And I can feel the energy in these allotments too.

Wonderful work Emily.













The Giant Under The Snow by John Gordon

September 24, 2018

John Gordon was born in 1925, (also known as Jack Gordon), gained fame as an English writer of adolescent supernatural fiction. At the age of 12 his family moved to Wisbech from Jarrow in Tyne and Wear. The contrast of the flat, rural landscape had a profound effect on him and inspired him to write many of his most popular stories.

He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War on minesweepers and destroyers and afterwards worked as a journalist in the West Country and East Anglia. It was during his time working as sub-editor on The Eastern Evening News in Norwich that he wrote his first novel, The Giant Under The Snow (1968). Although Norwich and its cathedral may have been the inspiration for parts of this book, it was the Fens that set the backdrop for most of his stories.

I was first given a copy of this book about 20 years ago from an old school friend who knew that I had always been a huge fan of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner and he thought this to be a similar novel. He was right, I loved it and still read it and it’s sequel ‘Ride The Wind’ as an adult today. The cover illustrations are somewhat magical too.

Bearing in mind that this is a children’s book, the synopsis is this… One snowy Christmas, three children accidentally uncover a rusted old relic that contains a mysterious and dangerous power, plunging them into a strange world of ancient legends and magic. Their find resurrects an evil Warlord and his army of thin, spidery Leathermen who will stop at nothing to gain the relic for themselves. In a desperate race against time, the children must return the relic to its rightful owner–as whoever possesses it can wake an unbelievably huge and powerful force of nature–one that has lain asleep for centuries underground and use it for good or unstoppable evil.

Due to the book’s popularity, Orion Children’s Books decided to republish The Giant Under The Snow in April 2006. The revised edition had a new cover design by fantasy artist Geoff Taylor and new chapter head illustrations by Gary Blythe. Since 1968 the original story has remained fairly timeless; however, it was deemed necessary for the author to make some minor updates to the language (e.g. changing “gym shoes” to “trainers”). John Gordon also took the opportunity to clarify the origin of the Green Man in relevant chapters.

He authored 15 fantasy novels, four short story collections, over fifty short stories and a teenage memoir. Most of his novels are in the supernatural fantasy and horror genres and feature teenagers in the central roles. The adventures are often set in The Fens, an environment he found mysterious and inspirational while growing up. His books contain elements of East Anglian folklore such as the doom dog – Black Shuck. As a reporter in Wisbech he cycled many miles covering events in the Fens, especially in the village of Upwell. Many of his books feature Wisbech locations: Peckover House, Wisbech Museum, Wisbech Castle grounds, High Street, Market Place and pubs, The Crescent and the Park.

His work has been compared to that of the acclaimed ghost novelist M.R. James and his novel, The House on the Brink (1970) is regarded as one of the greatest novels in the Jamesian Tradition.

His work was published in the USA and in translation in Japan and various European countries. Throughout his career, his wife Sylvia was instrumental in the editing and collation of his work. Sadly John passed away in November of last year at the age of 92 and after a long battle with Alzheimers. I’ve just finished his last novel “Fen Runners” from 2009.

I thought this article was a very interesting insight into how John worked and how words were so very important to him.

In 2015 there were initial talks on the idea of making a film of the book, which promises to be a dark and chilling adaptation.

From info dated in 2017, there appears to be some headway,

even some inspirational artwork by Illustrator Davide Frisoni,

but talks are of needing additional funding and sadly there’s still no release date. I contacted the newly appointed Producer Gemma Wilks over at Shepperton Studios to find out what the latest news was. So kindly sent me this….


We were very honoured when the founder of Sunseeker Motor Yachts, Robert Braithwaite, gave us the development funding needed to buy the Rights to the much-loved novel, appoint the experienced screenwriter Tom Williams (Chalet Girl, Kajaki) to write a brilliant screenplay for The Giant Under The Snow, attach the director Michael Caton-Jones (Memphis Belle, The Jackal, Basic Instinct 2) and secure Paul Tucker (Aliens, Superman, Hoffa, Star Wars) as our Executive Producer, and Crispian Sallis (son of the legendary Peter!) as Production Designer.

With the recent appointment of Gemma Wilks as Producer, we are now moving fast-forward with the process of attaching the cast, which will then enable us to secure a Distributor, pre-sell the film and finally attract a suitable investor – whether that be a private individual or a mainstream Studio.

The Giant Under The Snow feature film will fill the void left by the Harry Potter franchise, and delight both young and old around the globe.  We aim to go into Production in Autumn 2019 with the film released at Christmas 2020.

Fingers crossed, you heard it here first…. watch this space!

Have you read any other great supernatural/ magical tales either as a child or more recently ? Share your favourite reads with us.








Fishink In Edinburgh

September 17, 2018

Welcome back to Fishinkblog. It’s been a busy couple of weeks this side of the postings as I’ve been to both Liverpool and Edinburgh, spending some time catching up with art (i.e. The surprisingly good Egon Schiele exhibition at The Tate, on until 23rd September) and just seeing what’s new (and old) in two of my fav cities.

Great to revisit Cafe Tabac at the top of Bold Street, It’s been around since 1974 and has always been a fab artistic cafe to meet creative folk in the city centre. Also spotting this rather over sized cat terrorizing the local seagulls, or perhaps it’s the other way around.

Edinburgh was a very welcome mini break, recharging batteries and reacquainting myself with this fine city.

At the Modern Art Museum, there were some very impressive entries in a schools competition organised by Tesco.

Judged in about 4 age categories, I was delighted to see such wonderful finalists.

Lovely to visit a little of the outdoor spaces too.

Edinburgh has some of the finest architecture and buildings.

I spent a whole day mooching around the Stockbridge area which is a great mixture of some really interesting independent shops and some of the best charity shops I’ve ever been in. Golden Hare Books has a lovely children’s reading room in the back, where I could easily have spent a small fortune !

Gift shops galore too, I particularly liked this one An Independant Zebra who sell plenty of great locally designed goods.

Something for everyone.

Even and Angie Lewin’s fabric covering an antique chair.

Another beautiful store is called Life Story, a Scandinavian design led shop with both Nordic and home grown brands.

A few of my own gifts to the friend who was kindly letting me stay.

A quick trip to the Scottish Gallery and an exhibition of the work by Stephen Bowers.

More great places to discover.

Thanks Edinburgh for being such a bustling and creative city, oh and for the sunny weather too.




Vintage By The Sea, Morecombe 2018

September 10, 2018

I came across a Vintage Festival in Morecombe last weekend. It’s the brainchild of fashion guru Wayne and Geraldine Hemmingway and they’ve been popping up for the last eight years in different locations and at different times of the year. It encourages a lovely crowd of people who have a love of clothing, music and cars from a bygone era. Talk about style !

There was quite a mix of eras but whether it was the 1930’s or the 1970’s they were still amazing to see and in great condition too. I wondered how many of them would still be around in another 80 years time.

This old NY Taxicab was huge.

Using the Art Deco Midland Hotel as a central point for the whole festival. It first opened it’s doors in 1933. Throughout its history The Midland has been a favourite haunt of celebrities such as Coco Chanel, Sir Laurence Olivier and Noel Coward, along with many of the actors and musicians performing at The Winter Gardens. Today it stands restored as the jewel in the crown of the British coast.

Oliver Hill commissioned the renowned sculptor and engraver Eric Gill to carve two seahorses for the outside of the building. Inside the building he carved a circular medallion in the ceiling overlooking the staircase. It shows a sea god being attended by mermaids and is edged with the words “And hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn”. Gill also designed an incised relief map of the Lake District and the Lancashire coast for a wall of the South Room, which is today the Eric Gill Suite.

Eric Ravilious first visited the hotel in 1933 and was commissioned to paint a mural for their Rotunda Cafe. Sadly the plaster on the newly decorated room wasn’t quite ready when Ravilious was instructed to paint the room and within a few years it had peeled off. More info here.

In 2013 artist Jonquil Cook paid homage to the original piece with her own interpretation.

Arguably Eric Gill’s greatest work for the hotel, and perhaps even his career, was the huge bas-relief for the hotel’s entrance lounge entitled “Odysseus welcomed from the sea by Nausicaa”, (below) which today stands grandly behind the main Reception desk in the main lobby of the hotel. Carved into six tonnes of Portland stone and measuring approximately 5m by 3m, it depicts a naked Odysseus stepping from the waves being greeted by Nausicaa and three handmaidens bearing food, drink and clothing – a scene meant to symbolise the hospitality being offered to guests by the hotelier.

Gill’s original design for the relief was called “High Jinks in Paradise” but its cavorting naked youths and maidens proved a bit too risque for the LMS who asked him to submit a less explicit composition!

Even though the hotel opened to mix reviews in 1933 (people thought it was garish and ugly), I thought it was stylish and beautiful.

There was a designer craft fair in one room.

I applauded anyone who made such amazing efforts to dress up, they all looked fantastic.

Mid afternoon there was a flyover by a Lancaster Bomber, which stopped everyone in their tracks.

Such a mix of costumes and eras. A fab old bookshop you could get lost in along the seafront too. Not sure who everyone has come as !

Also spotted a welcome tribute to British Comedian Eric Morecombe, with the words to the well known song “Bring me Sunshine” etched into the steps below. Great seagull statues and even a traveling vintage cinema!

More birds on lookout duty.

I love to be beside the seaside.

Even though it wasn’t a sunny day, it still looked great.

As did the crowds. Thanks once again everyone for a making such great efforts.