Tuesday, 15 April 2014

..."One of the finest pen & ink drawings in the world"...

... to - undeservedly - paraphrase Alexander McCall Smith in his famous reference to the one and only 'Topping & Company Booksellers of Ely'...

When I decided to make the 2015 calendar - or for that matter that there might be a 2015 calendar - a Downham Market and Ely calendar, apart from the obvious wealth of material from Ely Cathedral (which could arguably fill a calendar at the rate of at least a picture a week...), my first thoughts were of drawing the irrepressible Topping & Company Booksellers in Ely. 

Coincidentally, it was June 21st, the Summer Solstice of 2003 when we brought Cara, Laz and Emily in full Harry Potter attire to a wonderful Toppings book launch at midnight, for the release of the fifth J K Rowling novel - 'Harry Potter and the The Order of the Phoenix'. While children up and down the queue could be seen and heard waving wands and invoking one Potteresque spell after another, we 'adults' were offered that most marvelous of elixirs - wine by the glass! Oh happy night and day!

When we finally crossed from the pavement over the threshold into the bookshop proper, we may as well have have been stepping into Dumbledore's sanctum sanctorum itself, steeped as it were in subdued lighting and appropriately dressed shop staff. I'm sure I could hear the classical strains of 'Hedwig's Theme' seeping through bookcase upon bookcase.

Is there any doubt that Toppings & Company Booksellers of Ely could be anything other - day or night, book launch or no book launch, glass of wine or no glass of wine - could be anything other than a truly magical destination?

Pen & Ink illustration of Topping & Company Booksellers of Ely.

Up from Bath University for a reading week last year, Cara and I attended the Toppings evening at Ely Cathedral featuring comic writer and novelist Neil Gaiman. In the incomparable - and Hogwarts like - setting of Ely Cathedral, Neil regaled us with stories and anecdotes and read from 'Fortunately the Milk and 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane', before heading into the night signing myriad copies of his latest novel.

Despite a brief and amusing question and answer session, Neil never did tell us what Watchmen's Alan Moore hides in his beard...


Thursday, 10 April 2014

...nine rings to rule them all...

...OK, maybe not to rule them all, but just to show the wonderful artistic talent and community in Downham  Market - maybe to cool them all...

While collecting my artwork from Downham Market's Art Circle November exhibition at Framin' Art, proprietor Simon asked me if I'd like to take part in the following year's Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios 2014.

As it happened, Simon at Framin' Art would be host to four local artists', Denver Windmill in the able hands of Sam and Graham would be home to another four artists, and a ninth artist would welcome visitors into her Ryston home studio. 

I'd always been interested in taking part in the Open Studios and thought 'Why not?' If Framin' Art were taking the lion's share of the organisation and administration, I'll just turn up with my work and see what happens. 

What could be easier?

Some time later I got an email inviting me to the first of a handful of meetings at Framin' Art regarding the organisation and preparations required for the Open Studio. Also an opportunity to to meet the other artists and in fact ceramicists, textile and mosaic artists, writers, silk painters, acrylic painters, illustrators and silversmiths taking part - phew.

We were required to produce a flyer for what was now being called the 'Downham & Denver Art Trail with Ryston'. The three fold flyer would have two sides - the interior spread would display the nine artists work and their contact details, the cover and exterior to also to show examples of the nine artists work, plus an art trail map! 

It appeared to me that this would be no little job - both to produce the map and the design artwork. Almost involuntarily I could feel my arm going up - and as if it were an out of body experience - heard myself volunteering to design the flyer, draw the map, and do the dishes?!

What the...?

It wasn't as if I didn't have have my drawing and designing hands full producing all new artwork for the forthcoming 'Ely & Downham Market 2015 Calendar' and more than likely did not have additional time to apply to this extra job.

Still, at the time I had a reasonably clear vision of what the flyer might look like, and it had been suggested that my particular drawing style might lend itself to the production of the map. 

Fortunately my clear vision did not entirely prevail... 

Thanks to the regular - and constant input - from Simon and only the eight other artists and designers. You know who you are Rebecca, Sue, Catherine, Julie, Elizabeth, Izzy, Sarah and Perri - how did I ever think I was going to get away with it by myself? - we have a flyer that is miles better than it might have been, and certainly ticks and kicks, all the boxes!

With the 'Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios' imminent - and since we don't want to miss anybody - here's the aforementioned map of the Art Trail. Hope it all makes sense, the location of each participating artist is clearly marked in each box, as well as contact info, addresses and those handy post codes for fans of satnav. Me, I'm still using my trusty heel compass from my 'Get Smart' shoes...?! 

King's Lynn is North!

Let me just check my maths - two textile artists, one silversmith, two ceramic artists, one silk painter, one acrylic artist, one writer, one mosaic artist, two illustrators, one pen & ink artist, two designers and someone who draws a lot - sure there's areas of overlap - but I still make that a magical nine...

Must be something special here for everyone.

The fabulously weird 'Euphoria' by Ceramic Artist Rebecca Elliot - appearing at Framin' Art. I can't help but be reminded of comic artist Steve Ditko's nightmarishly bizarre 'Mindless Ones' in Doctor Strange circa 1966.

Please join us for what promises to be a great sixteen days out. Coffee pots will bubble and herbal teas will brew as artists across the county throw wide the doors to their studios to all and sundry. Without a doubt wonderful wares will be up for sale such as original artworks, pottery and ceramics, textiles and mosaics, jewellery and sculpture.

Not to mention greetings cards, prints, posters, calendars and bookmarks of all shapes,sizes and stripes!

Please visit the Framin' Art 'Art Trail' page and our facebook page for additional information on artists appearances,events and workshops.

Look forward to seeing you all,


Monday, 31 March 2014

...nature meets architecture...

Commencing the selection of possible subjects to draw for next year's forthcoming Ely & Downham Market 2015 Calendar - opening my reference file of photos I'd taken on numerous visits to Ely seemed a good place to start.

Start being the operative word. It turned out that I had a plethora of Ely images from historical architecture, waterways, narrowboats, sculpture, fauna and flora. 

I also had a huge selection of photos taken at the previous year's Eel Day celebrations. Ely being the multi faceted place that it is offered an almost inexhaustible mine of fabulous and inspiring subjects to draw and paint.

Having already drawn, well - part of Ely Cathedral, and recently completed a drawing of Cromwell's House that I began several years ago, I started the new project with the Remembrance Arch...

Ely's wonderful Remembrance Arch opposite the market Square.

What really appealed to me, apart from the many architectural features such as the gridlike arrangement of paving stones, the wrought iron railings, the classical design of the arch flanked by regimented brickwork and random stones - was the fabulous contrast of the trees behind the wall striking a beautiful organic counterpoint to the solid ordered arrangement below.

When the drawing had been virtually completed bar the trees, having spent a good deal of time on the drawing - I was in two minds whether to go ahead and draw in the trees, or leave them out entirely - who would know?

I had to remind myself that the main reason I chose to draw the Remembrance Arch was the appearance of the trees above the arch below.

Handwritten script on the stone tablets.

 OK - having left the script on the tablets within the arch till the very last minute - after I'd lettered all the books and posters in shopfront window of the 'Toppings & Company Bookshop' illustration, I felt confident enough to attempt to letter names on the stone tablets within the arch itself.

I hope you're as pleased with the finished artwork as I am.


Thursday, 20 March 2014

...not quite meeting merry Marvel's mutant master of magnetism!...

...or the return of Blog Master General...

What a surprise when I arrived at Ely Cathedral for my 'photo shoot' with the Ely Weekly News, to see what for all intents and purposes was a veritable army of bright white transits, vans and box wagons occupying the entire green beside the entrance to the cathedral. 

I'm a modest chap, but this was really pushing the narrowboat out. Clearly the Ely Weekly News conducts itself with style and panache - and perhaps in this instance uses an elephant gun where a flyswatter would do.

And me buzzing with just two easels, five pieces of original artwork, and a handful of this years calendars - gulp. 

Pen & Ink illustrations of the titanic Toppings & Company
bookshop and the memorable Ely Remembrance Arch.

All was revealed when photographer Keith appeared amongst the hubbub and explained that preparations were underway for the filming of Macbeth in the Cathedral. As we were joined by various Cathedral personnel, it came to light that filming might indeed take place this afternoon, featuring none other than the X-Men's magnificent Master of Magnetism - the man you love to hate - the Mighty Magneto!

Or back in the real world - the one and only Michael Fassbender!

Aka Lt. Archie Hiscox in Inglorious Basterds, David in Prometheus, and more recently Edwin Epp's in 12 Year's a Slave. In this Macbeth remake, Fassbender appears in the leading role alongside Lady Macbeth played by Marion Cotillard.

Original artwork for the Ely Remembrance Arch and this year's Downham Market & King's Lynn 2014 Calendar featuring the wonderful Victorian facade of the King's Lynn Corn Exchange.

Anyway, back in the other real world I posed, cameras clicked and lights flashed! My digital self was on it's way to the  newspaper office, and subsequently all print and virtual points beyond. 

All I had to do now was return to my studio and get on with the production of the remaining Ely and Downham Market drawings to complete the forthcoming Ely & Downham Market 2015 Calendar.

Five or six more pen & ink drawings and watercolour illustrations? Since I'm planning for a July printing - if not sooner - drawing board, here I come!

Preliminary cover design spotlighting a festive mist-laden Ely Cathedral.
Pen & Ink and Watercolour.

With the sale of the Downham Market 2013 Calendar I raised money for a handful of local charities, and sales of this year's Downham Market & King's Lynn Calendar have raised 50p per sale for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

The forthcoming Ely & Downham Market 2015 Calendar will see money donated evenly toward the reinstatement of it's sails to Denver Windmill, and toward the continual upkeep of Ely Cathedral.

Please help us. By purchasing a calendar which will accompany you through next year with pen & ink and watercolour illustrations of local landmarks and points of interest, you will also support these worthy causes.

Updates and previews of the calendar artwork will be available on my blog and also the AndyScordellisArt facebook page.

As the weather becomes warmer I'll be in Ely and Downham, easel and drawing board in hand producing additional drawings for the calendar, and associated cards and prints.  Please feel free to come over and say 'Hi' and see what I'm up to.

Arch - villain Magneto as he first appeared in 1963
by Jack Kirby and the multi talented Sol Brodsky.

...the return of Blog Master General!...

Well, after I'd been away for so many months, I thought I'd better bring along a colourful half bakers dozen of superheroes and villains to help me on my way.

Apologies for the prolonged absence, and with the production of the Ely/Downham Calendar, and generally catching up with posts for work and projects I missed since my last post and this one - I expect the blog to be cooking on all V12 cylinders!


Thursday, 22 August 2013

...and July 1st...

...and June 1st...

From the June page of 'Downham Market 2013 Calendar - 

'Reeds Homestore - for young and old alike represents the very best in department store shopping. Combining a fabulous selection of goods with traditional service and personal attention, it has long occupied a memorable place in the heart and history of Downham Market. With the guidance of it’s new management Reeds is all set to become an imaginative and 
caring retailer for the 21st century!'

Part of 'Nelson House' - the building occupied by Reeds, is reputed to have been a school attended by a young Lord Admiral Nelson.