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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.




Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole

September 3, 2018

Continuing on from my recent trip to North Yorkshire, I visited the most charming village of Hutton-le-Hole. This is one of the most popular beauty spots in the North York Moors.

The village is known for its long, winding village green with a stream running down the middle and foot bridges crossing the stream.

The first written record of a settlement comes from the Domesday Book, where a village called Hoton is recorded. It was a small village even then, with 8 carucates of land, enough to support 8 families. The village name was transformed over the medieval period, from Hedge-Hoton to Hoton under Heg, to Hewton, and then in the 17th century Hutton in the Hole.

The present name Hutton-le-Hole only appeared in the 19th century. But what does the peculiar name mean? Several theories have been put forward, but the most likely is that ‘Hole’ refers to burial mounds. Several ancient burial mounds can be found around nearby Barmoor, so it seems plausible that the name simply means ‘the place near the burial mounds’.

The Ryedale Folk Museum contains 13 rescued and reconstructed historic buildings, including an Iron Age round house, 1950’s period shops, thatched cottages, an Elizabethan manor house, barns and workshops. I was looking forward to exploring it’s vintage memorabilia, and it didn’t let me down.

This was certainly one of the highlights, a perfectly constructed 1950’s Post Office and shop. Complete with numerous items of fifties packaging. There’s an old radio playing popular tunes of the time and the whole experience was like a time travel to a period before I was even born.

Look at this fun packaging and advertising.

Ok some of the designs were a bit lack lustre… kelloggs have thankfully developed their design quite a bit from these dull boxes.

But on the whole it was bright, smiling and upbeat.

There’s a cobblers, an ironmongers,

A whole Chemists shop.

Even an old school room.

A scaled down village and some of the local farm residents.

Boo wondered what the pigs were up to.

The Iron Age roundhouse is a reconstruction of what a typical North York Moors roundhouse might have been like. It provides an atmospheric idea of how Iron Age people might have lived, from its central fireplace, simple beds, weaving loom and other domestic items such as quern stones.

There’s a small orchard with an impressive selection of fruiting trees.

The Manor House is often considered to be one of the most impressive buildings. Its simple cruck-framed construction creates a magnificent open space inside. Originally built in the late 16th century, it was moved from the nearby village of Harome by volunteers, and rebuilt at the Museum in 1971. You can get a sense of the scale and majesty of a Manor House.

There’s also an 18th Century thatched cottage, a Victorian thatched cottage and a Medieval crofters cottage too.

All set up to look like the inhabitants have just popped out for some firewood or cooking herbs.

Also an impressive collection of farm machinery and artefacts from different time periods.

Ryedale Folk Museum is home to The Harrison Collection. Amassed by local brothers Edward and Richard Harrison over the last sixty years, the collection includes antiques and rare curiosities spanning five centuries of British history. It covers everything from cooking pots to brain surgery tools. Around half of the collection is on display at the Museum in a dedicated building and exhibition space, which opened in 2012… I liked this metal Roman Sun Buckle below.

And the lettering on this Magnifying glass too.

Painted bottles, glass bottles and great labels.

These lovely wooden pieces. “When this you see, pray think on me…” is a carved poem to remind a loved one that he is thinking of her.

A large gingerbread mould and an amazingly intricate wooden comb.. imagine carving all those teeth !

The RyedaleFolk Museum from February to December and is about £8 for an adult ticket which you can use again for up to a year. Dogs on leads are also welcome, thankfully. The kind lady on the ticket desk also sometimes gives out dog biscuits too ! Woof and well worth a visit.








August 27, 2018

I was away the week before last, soaking up some sunshine in North Yorkshire on a campsite with my dog. As a consequence of being outdoors for most of the day, I was struck by how often I found myself gazing at the heavens. The slightly flatter landscape meant that I could see much further in a single view and the clouds in particular were astounding. I took quite a few photos as proof… as you can see.

NASA tells us that a cloud is made of water drops or ice crystals floating in the sky. There are many kinds of clouds. Clouds are an important part of Earth’s weather. The sky can be full of water. But most of the time you can’t see the water. The drops of water are too small to see. They have turned into a gas called water vapor. As the water vapor goes higher in the sky, the air gets cooler. The cooler air causes the water droplets to start to stick to things like bits of dust, ice or sea salt.

Most of the water in clouds is in very small droplets. The droplets are so light they float in the air. Sometimes those droplets join with other droplets. Then they turn into larger drops. When that happens, gravity causes them to fall to Earth. We call the falling water drops “rain.” When the air is colder, the water may form snowflakes instead. Freezing rain, sleet or even hail can fall from clouds.

Clouds are important for many reasons. Rain and snow are two of those reasons. At night, clouds reflect heat and keep the ground warmer. During the day, clouds make shade that can keep us cooler. Studying clouds helps NASA better understand Earth’s weather. NASA uses satellites in space to study clouds. NASA also studies clouds on other planets.

The present international system of Latin-based cloud classification dates back to 1803, when amateur meteorologist Luc Howard wrote The Essay on the Modification of Clouds. The International Cloud Atlas currently recognizes ten basic cloud “genera,” which are defined according to where in the sky they form and their approximate appearance. High-level clouds typically have a base above about 5 000 meters (16 500 feet); middle-level clouds have a base that is usually between 2 000 and 7 000 m (6 500 to 23 000 feet); and low-level clouds usually have their base at a maximum of 2 000 m (6 500 feet).

Most cloud names contain Latin prefixes and suffixes which, when combined, give an indication of the cloud’s character. These include:

–   Stratus/strato: flat/layered and smooth

–  Cumulus/cumulo: heaped up/puffy

–  Cirrus/cirro: feathers, wispy

–  Nimbus/nimbo: rain-bearing

–  Alto: mid-level (though Latin for high)

The 10 genera are subdivided into “species,” which describe shape and internal structure, and “varieties,” which describe the transparency and arrangement of the clouds. In total there are about 100 combinations.

It also proposes some new “special clouds,” such as Homogenitus (from the Latin homo meaning man and genitus meaning generated or made). Its common names include Contrails (from aircraft).

The new International Cloud Atlas is a tribute to the generosity of the Hong Kong Observatory and the dedication and enthusiasm of a special WMO Task Team, which spent nearly three years revising the text and collecting and classifying images and data. It increases and enriches our understanding of clouds and will serve as an invaluable resource for many years to come.

I love the way these pitted forms just filled the entire sky.

Dramatic and beautiful, we’re so lucky to have such variety in our skies.

A few slinky and seductive, low lying clouds coloured by the setting sun.

People get very excited about UFO shaped clouds, here’s some strange examples I found online.

Fortunately I didn’t encounter many of these heavy rain clouds last week. Someone up there must have been looking after us !

Before the drama of the back-lit effect at the day’s end.

Whilst writing my blogpost today, I found out that there’s a Cloud Appreciation Society where people from across the world post photos of the clouds they’ve spotted, another featuring painted clouds on Outdoor Painter. Discovering and capturing a great cloud formation is obviously more than just a fine art !

Many thanks to NASA and the World Meteorological Organization for the technical info on Clouds used in my blog today. Do you have any great cloud photos or memories ? I will be talking more about my holiday travels during the next couple of weeks so do check back in.





Charles Wysocki Midcentury Illustrator

August 24, 2018

Charles Wysocki was born in 1928 in Detroit, Michigan. From the time he was small, he always wanted to be an artist. His father was an immigrant from Poland who worked on the assembly line at Ford Motor Co. for over 35 years. His father was not thrilled about his son’s artistic aspirations. Most of his encouragement came from his mother. She fully supported his artistic tendencies.

Charles went to high school at Cass Technical High School and focused on their art program. For a time he worked as an apprentice in Detroit art studios. Then Uncle Sam snatched him up. Charles was drafted in 1950 during the Korean War. He should have been sent to Korea where he may have met his fate, but right before he was to be sent out, he was granted a leave of absence to visit his brother Harry who was very ill.

After he returned to hook up with his unit, the powers that be said, “You’re going to Germany.” He was stationed in Hanau, West Germany from 1951-1952. After his two-year obligation in the Army he decided to trade in his rifle for a paintbrush.

After leaving the Army, Charles attended Art Center in Los Angeles (it is now in Pasadena) on the G.I. Bill. After completing his studies, and majoring in design and advertising illustration, Charles joined the staff of freelance artists at McNamera Brothers in Detroit in 1955. He lived at home with his parents during this time. Charles moved to Los Angeles in 1959. There he formed an advertising agency with three other artists called “Group West” and was very successful doing freelance commercial artwork.

Some of his clients included General Tire, Unocal, Carnation, Chrysler, United California Bank, Otis elevator company, and Dow Chemical Co. to name a few. Here’s a poster he created for General Tire in 1960.

During this time he won numerous awards for his illustrative talents. Then he met Elizabeth, and she unleashed the primitive artist that was buried within him.

Charles and Elizabeth met at an ad agency in Los Angeles. She had just graduated from UCLA as an art major. She was working at this ad agency when she heard about a hotshot illustrator (Charles Wysocki) that was coming in to do some freelance work for them. Well, when they met, it was love at first sight. Elizabeth’s family was one of the first to settle in the San Fernando Valley.

Charles was enamored of the simplicity of this farm life and wholesome values. This influence is what started his whole primitive style that we all know and love. Charles and Elizabeth were married three months after they met, in July 1960. During this time they made several trips to the East Coast. They went antique shopping and visited places such as Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

In the early 1960’s Charles worked as a commercial artist, but his heart was in the primitive style. At night and on the weekends, he worked on his Americana/primitive paintings. After he did a one-man show at which he sold every painting in this style, he decided to leave commercial art for good and just focus on his Americana art. For most of the 1960’s he made a good living off of the original paintings he sold. He also published greeting cards, posters and a huge number of jigsaws, along with other licensed merchandise of all kinds. During this time Charles and Elizabeth had three children. David was born in 1965, Millicent in 1967, and Matthew in 1969. It is also during this time that they moved from Los Angeles to Lake Arrowhead.

In 1979, Charles published his first limited edition print, “Fox Run”, with The Greenwich Workshop. His published numerous prints with them during this time from 1979-1993. He also traveled around the country and made personal appearances at galleries all over the United States. Charles won many awards for his work including the one he was most proud of, the medal of honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the society’s highest honor. Charles also published two books during this time, “An American Celebration” in 1985 and “Heartland” in 1993. He also appeared in People magazine July 7, 1986, and was invited to the White House Independence Day celebration in 1981 (for which he did a painting that still hangs there).

Charles painted his whole life, and up to his death at the age of 73. He died July 29th, 2002 surrounded by family. It was also his 42nd wedding anniversary. He will be sorely missed by many, but his artwork will live on. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, his three children, David, Millie, Matt, and his two grandchildren, Emily and Jackson.

For me Charles earlier work from the sixties has much more life and vibrancy to it. I love his painterly skies and textures so much more than the Americana style he later adopted, which although they’re busier, they are also crammed full of people, detail and flatter perspectives. It’s almost as though they are the work of two separate artists.

What are your thoughts ? Many thanks to the the dedicated work of Leif Peng who tirelessly collates all this information on Flickr and who first introduced me to Charles’ amazing work. If anyone else has any other examples of Charles’ work from this era, I’d love to see them.