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Alice Meynell Shorehound from the beach

March 6, 2015

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Alice Meynell is a fellow lurcher owner, in fact she has three dogs and four children. When time allows she likes nothing better than to head down on the beach in East Lothian, close to her home and gather bits of broken shells and debris that no-one else wants. What she does with her finds, is something magical… she illustrates with them. I asked Alice to tell us how it all started.

She says “I walk the dogs at the beach every day and always come back with my pockets bulging with stuff I can’t leave on the shore. My children were messing about in the kitchen, having just discovered Instagram and were taking awful pictures of anything they could find. Yoghurt pots with the spoon at an artful angle, or a plate with a half eaten biscuit on it. I was trying to persuade them to make things more interesting, and drew the body of a pelican around a broken bit of shell. A lovely friend, who used to commission illustrators for children’s books, saw that one, and a couple of others and suggested I take it a bit more seriously. ”

I love the prehistoric element creeping in here and of course (it almost goes without saying) that the hounds are fab too : )

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“I have always had a longing to go back to art school and do a course in illustration. So when my friend suggested I could sell my illustrations with beach junk incorporated into them, I thought I’d have a go. I started at the beginning of last summer, and now have boxes and boxes of broken shells, sea-chewed plastic, smoothed and softened driftwood, coloured sea glass and crusted pebbles waiting to be turned into things. Usually, nearly always, I see something and pick it up, knowing it’s going to end up as a rhinocerous or a bicycle helmet for a tortoise. Other times I find things and just take them home because I like them. I collect a lot of those little pink snail like shells, as they make very good eyeballs, but I also collect masses of smooth limpets, because I like the feel of them but I’ve not yet used a single one in a picture.”

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“My plans for the future are to do more, bigger pictures. I’ve been enjoying the limited space of the small square ones, a hang over from having to work in that shape for Instagram, but I’m going to build some much bigger box frames. I’d like to work straight onto drift wood boards too, and I collect any sheet wood that I can find. My other plan, which will take a lot of organising, is to illustrate a children’s story I wrote years ago, about a duck who is afraid of the water. I’m thinking of doing it as a stop-motion animation so I can use the same shells for each character again and again. I’m planning some storyboards at the moment, but first I have to make a costume for my oldest daughter who is going to be a teapot in the school play, and that’s taking up a lot of my creative energy ! ”

These cakes look good enough to eat, or at least to entice a shell dog to eat !

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You can see here how Alice develops her illustrations and builds them up slowly by finding the right shape, colour or texture for the exact part that she needs.

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“I studied silversmithing and jewellery at Glasgow School of Art, graduating in the early 90’s but have never done anything that remotely relates to that. For a while I designed floors ( I set up http://www.harveymaria.co.uk with a friend. I designed the tiles while he ran the business side of things, which I am hopeless at. That company too, like Shorehound, was named after my dog ! My current three dogs (two lurchers and an idle terrier who hates walks) are all mixed breeds so when I’m asked what sort they are, I say that they’re Shorehounds. People go away nodding sagely. ”

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You can discover more of Alice’s beach coming images over on her Instagram site or grab an original illustration here. Thanks Alice for sharing your gifts and story with us. Happy beach combing.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2015 7:00 pm

    Very Speshell !! (Ha Ha groaN)

  2. March 9, 2015 3:30 pm

    Oh, aren’t these fun! I love the woman with the seashell shawl and the seashell hair/hat. These are wonderful! Oh, also, the dog (Tiggy) being warned away from the food on the counter.

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