Monday 22 August 2011

The trial of Sarah Malcolm

In 1733, a 22 year old Irish laundress was found guilty of theft and three murders, and hung at Fleet Street for her crime. Her name was Sarah Malcolm and she makes a small appearance in the graphic novel I'm doing. Here are some images from her scenes, which are still work in progress.

Sarah put up a remarkable defence in court, and is one of the three cases examined in last week’s Voices From the Old Bailey on BBC Radio 4. She admitted to the theft of 45 guineas (equivalent to a year’s salary) after being found with the money, but denied the three murders until the end. The transcript from her trial in the Old Bailey’s online archives shows her as a fiery character - she even conducted her own defence.

Two days before she was hung, William Hogarth and his father-in-law James Thornhill visited her in her cell to make sketches for her portrait.

(work in progress)

I wanted to include this scene because it shows Hogarth in a cynical light (the pages following this scene will explain why). The dialogue for the prison scene was difficult and in the end I settled for very little speech, because anything else felt too forced.

Her painted portrait hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Hogarth made a print of this painting (see below), which looks a bit demonic by comparison. He had little sympathy for her, and was alleged to have said that

"this woman by her features is capable of anything".

"A Lady Macbeth in low-life." - John Ireland

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Illustrator of the month interview

Thanks goes to Christopher Jones for this one…

The Box Zine is ran by a small group of artists based in Worcester. Visit for more info.

Saturday 13 August 2011

The Beautiful and the Damned

The English Pleasure Garden was a phenomena which started in the 1600s and carried on through until Victorian times. One of the most well-known of the early Pleasure Gardens was Vauxhall Gardens.

Originally Vauxhall had something of a reputation for being a rendevous point for prostitutes and their clinets, until it was taken over by the 26 year old Jonathan Tyers in 1732. Legend has it that Tyers was in suicidal despair over the gardens before William Hogarth gave him the idea for a lavish reopening the gardens.

A place like Vauxhall was a place to see and be seen in. It also would have provided a kind of relief from the over-crowded London centre by giving its patrons a spacious, attractive area to eat, drink and socialise.

Part of the experience of spending an evening at Vauxhall would have been the trip by wherry across the Thames.

(illustration for page 3)

(unfinished panel)

This is probably one of the most sedate scenes I’ve done so far. The next part I’m working on has a court case and a hanging in it, which is proving difficult to do without it looking tasteless... Here are some sketches for it:

(Guess who?)

(On the wagon)

I'll upload some of them on completion. Someone I'm working for at the moment has expressed more interest in the sketches I do than the finished pictures, so I'll try to keep uploading some of these early drawings too.

Friday 5 August 2011

More images from the MA project

These are a few panels from a scene in my chapter - these are done mainly with black ink (shellac) and white ink (acrylic).

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Allen Upward "The Mermaid"

And now for something completely different...

'The sailor boy who leant over the side of the Junk of Many Pearls, and combed the green tresses of the sea with his ivory fingers, believing that he had heard the voice of a mermaid, cast his body down between the waves.
by Allen Upward

Top: collograph plate
Below: collograph print, blue and black ink

A few months ago I took out a poetry collection on imagist poetry. All of them are great material for illustration, but Allen Upward's short peice of prose stuck with me. I ended up using it as inspiration in a collograph workshop we did a few weeks ago.

It's great to just take a break from the MA project and experiment with new mediums like this, even though at this point in the year I really don't have the time anymore!