HANNAH FOLEY: WRITER AND ILLUSTRATOR

I am completely aware of the fact that, as a mature second-year student, I should probably not be writing about children-book illustrator Hannah Foley. But whether it is because of my regressive attitudes – which involve brunching every Sunday watching the Totally Spies or spending an entire afternoon blowing up balloons for my birthday – or because of her incontestable ability to make everything really, really cute, I was altogether captivated by her work. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Even Solly the Spider made my heart melt a little bit. I mean, the poor thing wants to find a spot to build his web, but it never seems to go as well as he hoped!

Hannah Foley is originally from Devon but she now lives with her husband and her daughter in a sheep farm on the Scottish borders. She focuses mostly on writing and illustrating children’s books, both fictional and educational, but she has also participated in the 2013 Degree Show for the Edinburgh College of Art and is currently designing a children’s website and online magazine called Firefly. The influence of the natural world surrounding her is very strong in her work and she is also inspired by her own everyday life, especially by her daughter, nicknamed Little Owl, who is omnipresent in her projects. For example, she came up with the idea for Baby’s First Book of Trees after watching her little girl in her crib under the shade of a tree, and wondering how the sky must have looked like from her perspective.

Browsing her blog , this proximity between her work and her life is evident as she describes everyday “owling about” with Little Owl and Big Dreamer, her husband. Every post is accompanied by an illustration that never fails to remind me of an old school Disney movie. An orangutan on a roof, a baby bear struggling to cool his porridge down, penguins coming out of a fridge; Foley gives life a whole new world of adorable stories and charming creatures  to catch the imagination of children and boost their creativity. Definitely worked for me too.

Mata Macdonald

Johnny Cash claimed a musician cannot write real country music unless they have lived and worked in the heart of the countryside. Far from America’s deep south, but not so far in natural splendour, Mata Macdonald was raised in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. As for his music, it is just as staggeringly organic as the countryside that inspired it.

Mata Macdonald said himself that his music upholds “the local music scene within our islands….Support your local music!”  Styling his sound from Scotland, Mata makes ‘Hebricana’ music (a mixture between Americana – American country blues music – and Scottish and celtic folk tradition). Mata is like a reincarnation of Johnny Cash who, rather than dressing in black, wears a lighter shade of country; his lyrics focus delightfully on his Scottish roots and love songs.

What is so appealing is the easygoing, intimate and tender nature of Mata’s music. Indeed, he only played to close family and friends until sharing his sound publicly in 2010. Months later his debut EP ‘Hebricana’ reached number six on Amazon’s charts for ‘best new country daily releases.’ Anyone who enjoys folk music should take a listen to the EP. It is a sequence of exquisite secrets and stories told across five tracks, where vocals fit over guitar like glove to hand, not dissimilarly to Ben Howard and Newton Faulkner.

The EP’s most heart rendering track, ‘Break Your Fall’, is nothing short of beautiful and showcases Mata’s from-the-heart song writing at its best. Magic: “You are a dreamer who sleeps beneath the stars,” he sings above the gentle guitar taps. Stepping up the energy ‘Lila’ has a rocky sway, coloured by a shining harmonica and raw vocal. Another gem, ‘The Periphery’, is a folky ballard that grows from a guitar to full orchestral strings like an ear of wheat blossoming into a golden field.

For anyone who enjoys the more traditional shade of country, ‘For Days Gone By’ and ‘Ruby’s Daughter’ return to celtic roots with their folkey banjo strumming, storyteller style and harmonica – attached to Mata’s neck and played as he strums like a pro multi-tasker. On a similar tip, ‘I Can See Your Eyes’ is as husky as it is delicate, its highlight being the blend of guitar massaging the piano as it trickles out its chords. The sounds of Nashville and Tennessee rise to a head in the Scottish take on a country anthem ‘Blacklands’, and a man strumming a guitar has never seemed so loyal to his roots and so picturesque.

ARCHIBALD PHOTOGRAPHY

Most of us are pretty much content with the three likes we got on Facebook from the Instagrammed picture of our feet sunbathing in front of the sea last summer. When you entrust Mark from Archibald Photography with a phone that has a decent camera, the result is not exactly the same. Who knew that you could master photography to the point that shots taken with a phone camera look like a professional photo shoot?

In Mark’s Nokia Lumia 920 Camera Project, the conventions of traditional photography (convention n°1: use an acceptable camera) are successfully subverted and it is a combination of both talent and technique that allow him to capture the beauty of Scottish landscapes. They say you can tell a good workman by his tools, but clearly Mark doesn’t go by old sayings. The 32 shots taken from his phone positively show that he has an impeccable eye for photography as they take us on a journey through the colorful, vibrant – and sunny – Scottish countryside.

Archibald Photography was created in 2003 by Donny, who is in charge of marketing and client contact, and her husband Mark, the photographer. Both born and raised in Scotland, they have done some projects at home, but their main focus is travel documentary photography. Mark’s work is already recognized in the United Kingdom and he has won many awards: the 2009 Best Complete Wedding Photographer, the 2010 Scottish Fashion Photographer of the Year and the 2012 Scottish Portrait Photographer of the Year. He and Donny are now based in Biggar, in Scotland, and have specialized in wedding photography, along with portraits, commercials, and fashion and music photography.

Interestingly, Mark’s shots of Scotland strongly contrast with the rest of his work – and whether his vision of Scottish weather is accurate can become a subject of serious debate. In his travel pictures particularly, he makes a strong use of black and white that gives a dramatic and almost tormented atmosphere to the places he shoots: even an innocent palm tree in Lagos becomes threatening from the perspective of his camera. This is because he works a lot with film and not digital cameras, which is quite an unusual initiative that lends more authenticity to his work. His photos seem like they are from another age and in this sense, they allow us to travel not only through space, but also through time.

To be kept informed of Mark and Donny’s projects, you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or visit their official website.

Sarah Kilkenny Design

It’s often the case that creative types draw a lot from their childhood, after all we are each one of us products of our upbringing. It was natural then for Sarah Kilkenny to make the move from embroidering with her grandmother in Manchester to studying fashion design full time at the Edinburgh College of Art. Following a slew of fashion opportunities in sixth form, including the Fashion Awareness Directive and the Vauxhall Fashion Scout programme, the latter of which granted Sarah the research award, the young designer gathered enough confidence and experience to continue her passion into higher education. She is now entering her fourth and final year of study.

Often cited as the fashion capital of the North, Manchester plays host to a number of creatives, many of whom have been featured as part of the ‘Born in Britain’ project. Between the experience her home town has leant her, and those which she has learnt in Edinburgh, Sarah’s style is one that is comfortable and cool. Growing up around many artistic influences has allowed her to broaden her own repertoire and she cites illustration and writing as areas of interest to be explored, as well as photography, film, and design and the impact and relationship they share with fashion design. As well as this, the designer talks about the merging of fashion and academia as a growing trend, alluding to Anja Aronowsky Cronberg and her work at Vestoj, and with such a multifaceted nature to her work, Sarah imbues creation with meaning, drive, and interest.

Currently, her work is largely fashion design with a focus on surfaces. Studying at the ECA has lead to an endless number of awesome opportunities, including the chance to work with high-end designers Duchamp and Michael Kors, both of whom selected Sarah as a finalist in their design competitions. The accolades don’t stop there, either, she also made it to the finals of the British Alpaca Society Student Knitwear Designer of the Year Competition and the Mackintosh Competition, narrowly missing out on the top spots. The latter two competitions were of great importance to Sarah because of their positions as forerunners in a long line of British heritage brands, which, alongside Gola, support and sustain the tradition and economy of Great Britain. That’s why, when a young Scottish brand announced her as winner of their design competition, she was so enthusiastic to see her designs realised. That’s all under wraps for now, but watch this space.

Inspiration comes from many areas, but Sarah stresses that they are mainly visual ones. Feelings and characters play into her ‘imaginary muse’, but the main theme is a focus on perception through vision. Work with other creatives is also impactive, and she describes working on a collaborative sketchbook project that involved sharing visual illustration ideas and building upon them as a group of artists.

This summer, Sarah has embarked on an internship with another heritage brand, Pringle of Scotland. Living and working in London, Sarah tells me that she will be ‘assisting with all areas within the design team, knitwear and wovens but predominantly knitwear as this is where I have been specialising this year. Also research, colour palettes, fittings and working with the lookbook shoot’. The formal part of her training begins here, but she is no stranger to the hard-faced world of the fashion industry, and has previously worked with clients such as Chanel on their 2013 Metier D’Arts show in Edinburgh.

Sarah admits that the future is anyone’s guess. She’d like to do an MA in Womenswear, but with such an extensive and impressive CV already, the sky really is the limit for this impressive young designer.

Top Photo: Coat, Sarah Kilkenny; Hat, Emma Lawrie; Top, Catrina Murphy; Trousers, Birgit Saviauk. Model: Marju Kaps.

Sarah may be contacted at: sarahkilkenny91@gmail.com

sarah-kilkenny.tumblr.com

David Galletly

Trying to think of a way to ‘sum up’ David Galletly and his work in a pithy little intro sentence, ideally with some kind of witty remark or pun involved somehow, is almost impossible – and believe me, I tried.

For as much as you could try his portfolio is just far too varied, with his style and approach altering to fit whatever brief he was working to at the time. 

As he says himself he doesn’t “necessarily have a favourite way of working” rather preferring to “bounce around as much as I can”. But there definitely are two main styles there: an intricate line-based patterned approach, and a more quick and fun cartoony one. And in an illustration world where it’s very easy for designers to become obsessed with this notion of a utterly-set-this-is-my-style-and-I’m-stuck-with-it-for-the-next-forty-years, in a really lovely refreshing way Galletely doesn’t seem to mind his more relaxed experimental approach. Rather he focuses more on just “consciously trying to make things that I don’t immediately hate”, which in my opinion gives his work a great sense of enjoyment and vibrancy to it. Plus it’s a good maxim for life in general I feel.

And if these various talents weren’t enough Galletly has forayed into the world of film and animation as well; alongside his illustrations for Scotland-based beer brand Innis & Gunn he produced a flip book and hand drawn animation of the evolution of an oak tree. Using stop motion animation he has also made a ridiculously fun and adorable music video for Kid Carnival’s You Only Went Out To Get Drunk Last Night- you can watchg it here on the left hand side.

LINKS FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT:

Twitter

Website

Facebook

 

He was also kind enough to answer some questions for me, so here’s a charming wee interview:

What or who would you say are you biggest inspirations?

Looking at work by other illustrators often makes me jealous so I’m often better motivated by people in totally different fields. For years, people like Adam and Joe, Michel Gondry and Vic Reeves have been filling my head with ideas.

More directly, I guess, comics have always been pretty important to me. I remember pouring over Calvin and Hobbes collections in the local library when I was young – Bill Watterson’s attitude to his work and refusal to sell out in any way whatsoever taught me that, y’know, funny pictures are valuable things and you don’t necessarily need to be a tortured artist to be credible. The Moomins, Peanuts, Krazy Kat and Little Nemo are all fantastic.

Recently I’ve been psyched to hear that Chris Onstad’s amazing Achewood is set to return and I’ve also rediscovered my love of Disney through theme-park focused blogs like longforgottenhauntedmansion.blogspot.com. Marc Davis’s work as an Imagineer in particular has been a joy to pour over. He’s unmatched when it comes to telling a story in half a second flat 

 

As a Scottish and Scotland-based designer, have you ever felt at a disadvantage (or even like you’ve benefited) for not living in London like many designers?

I think I’d get eaten alive in London. It’s not for me. My workload divides up fairly evenly between Scotland, the rest of Britain and overseas and almost every project across the board comes through email. It’s very rare that I’ll talk on the phone with a client, let alone meet them in person. As a fairly mumbly, shy fellow, this suits me pretty well. Without the internet, I wouldn’t have a job.

Saying that, Glasgow is a really great place to live and work. I’m from Stirling originally so the city still feels big to me and there’s always loads of stuff going on. Through places like Recoat in the West End, I’ve met people and worked on things that would have never come my way if I was locked in my studio all day.  

Being a one-man-band means it doesn’t take much more than a computer, some paper and a desk to doeverything I need to on any given day. When facing the reality of going 100% freelance after years of part-timing, I’d settle my nerves by adding up my  modest outgoings and telling myself stuff like ‘right, if I can find 20 people in the whole world to pay me 1/20th of this number, I can survive’. It’s going ok! I’d have lasted a month in London.

Rather than complicate things (the death of print! etc), I really feel like technology will allow more artists, designers and illustrators the opportunity to support themselves through their work. Do some sums! Make a plan!

 

What has been your proudest moment of your career so far? 

Without wanting to sound like a stuck record, supporting myself through my artwork for my first full year felt like a massive achievement. It’s a position I’d hoped to reach for a long time and, after a few false starts, I finally got there. I’ve no idea how long this ‘career’ will continue but, for now at least, it’s exactly where I want to be.

 

What does the immediate future hold for you and your work?

I’m working on a few really exciting things – some secret animation stuff which is kinda new territory for me, a lot of illustrations for the awesome Edinburgh-based beer company Innis and Gunn and some odds and ends for my long-time favourites, Fence Records. I hope to work on more large-scale projects with Team Recoat as soon as we find the right project and my website is feeling a little neglected so it’ll be getting a wee overhaul too.

A new set of problems have also been presenting themselves recently and I’m trying to fight through them as best I can. These are the fairly unromantic, shouldn’t-really-complain-about, things that nobody really prepares you for: Time management!  Lack of drawing practice! Writers (drawers?) block! Working out how the hell to get on the property ladder as a freelancer! Weight gain!

 

 

 

Chloe Gough

A combination of art and philosophy that questions the traditional representation of human personality has found a new contemporary resolution in Chloe Gough’s works. Chloe is an artist based in Scotland, who graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone in Fine art, Philosophy and Contemporary Practices in 2009. Since then she studied at the SMFA, Boston and University of Michigan for her Masters of Fine Art.

Her accomplishments include the Donald Dewer Arts Award, David and June Gordon Memorial Trust Award and The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Purchase Prize.

Chloe looks at human figures, their poses, language and characteristics, merging traditional portraiture methods with philosophical context and theory.Her artworks emphasize the importance of body language and details in physical appearance that can easily stay unnoticed. Not giving the face to the viewer, she creates an increased awareness of human gestures, poses and physical expressions.

“By removing the gaze and also perhaps the face, I hope to draw more attention to the details present in posture, pose and physical quirks that appear in a person’s stance,” says Chloe. Using a variety of mediums, primarily painting and printmaking techniques, she reinvents traditional approaches in portraiture, accentuating another physical aspect of human personality.

Her artworks display careful observation of people. She creates portraits by replacing facial features with objects, attempting to find individuality through material representation and to perceive a person as a combination of tangible objects.

To find out more, visit this page http://www.chloegough.net/

 

The Monty Hall Problem

Glasgow-based band The Monty Hall Problem have been making music for two years now. Having met at school, Lewis, Mark, Ryan, and Timmy quickly developed a great musical repore. Now, with an album coming out early next year that they have funded themselves, a record deal is on the horizon for the four piece combo.

From the formative stages in Glasgow, the boys are now steadily going their separate ways. They now bridge their hometown and Edinburgh, and play most of their gigs in these two cities. They make it work with a combination of hot talent and fierce dedication.

Music is the ultimate goal for all four: their indie, rock n’ roll vibe hones in on the sound of a younger generation, of which they, crucially, are a part. They write all of their own music, testament to outstanding creative powers, and the inspirational use of brass and keyboards gives a profoundly emotive tone to their songs. Their influences include the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Glasvegas, and the Vaccines. They draw a lot of comparisons with these last – tapping into that same young indie vibe, but putting a uniquely Glaswegian crunch on the lyrics and riffs.

Future plans include the promotion of their first album, entitled ‘Is This a Dream or Am I This Lucky’ after a track on the album. Under the tutelage of producer Roger Shephard, it will be out in early 2013. What follows is anyone’s guess, but there are whisperings of a UK tour. For now, check out upcoming gigs on their facebook page, or email that at themontyhallproblem@live.co.uk.

Come see The Monty Hall Problem play in Edinburgh next November 27th for the Scottish stint of the Born in Britain Creative Showcase. Details on the facebook event page.

Sam Spreckley

Never ending contradiction and comparison between nature and technology has found new resolution in Sam Spreckley’s practice. His artworks are fresh ideas altering everyday reality in an unexpected direction.

Sam graduated with a Masters degree in Electronic Imaging from Duncan of Jordanstone, and is now based in Scotland. He is interested in the moving image, sound and animation, exploring the relationships found between sound and image. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally at film festivals and exhibitions, most recently in Greece as part of the European Young artists Biennial and also in the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.

His practice is inspired by biology and science, attempting to transform everyday items into mysterious objects. The featured video is based on the opposite elements- oil and water, two elements that will never mix. Combination of the two, merged with electronic sounds creates almost a mechanical structure. This surreal video is a skilfully made deceiving illusion, looking similar to a 3D animation it is hard to acknowledge the natural processes involved.

Sam turns natural elements into immersive artworks, synthesizing biological structures with machinery sounds. Exaggerating sensory perception and re imagining sounds of every detail, he creates an alternate sense of the natural world. This is another way of observing our reality, a rather uncommon looking glass that is focused on the processes existing in nature.

To find out more visit this website http://vimeo.com/samspreckley