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Hannah Dyson’s magical artwork is inspired by the mysterious world of folk legends and fairy tales
Hannah Dyson is a freelance illustrator based in Stroud whose clients have included The Idler, The Guardian, The Independent and BBC Publishing.
She is currently artist in residence at Prema Arts Centre, Uley, and creates her work using ink, brushes and Rotring pens as well as digital techniques. Hannah is inspired by the Gloucestershire landscape, as well as fairytales and folk legends.
The summer exhibition looks brilliant, Hannah. Have you exhibited at the Museum in the Park before?
This is the first time I have exhibited at the Museum in the Park. I was delighted to have been asked, as it is such a beautiful space and I’m always blown away by the incredible fir trees in the surrounding arboretum.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I think that simply walking along the lanes and exploring the countryside where I live in Stroud has been my inspiration for the last five years. When you have a really good look at the natural world it is full of curious detail which can then lead your imagination to all sorts of places! In terms of other artists’ work that has inspired me over the years, I admire Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle and Victor Kabasta, and I’ve always been drawn to the vaguely claustrophobic etchings of the Victorian illustrators like Sir John Tenniel.
You’re currently artist-inresidence at Prema. How are you enjoying the experience?
I love it. I still pinch myself when I arrive at my studio in the morning. Uley is a magical place, and Prema itself is a vibrant artistic hub with a great atmosphere.
Gordon Scott, Prema’s artistic director, told me the poignant story of John Daniel, the gorilla of Uley, which instantly inspired me to create a series of pictures imaging the life of a gorilla in a small Cotswold village. I’m including these in the exhibition.
What media do you use to create your illustrations?
I use drawing ink to create textures and shapes which are then layered and coloured in Photoshop. My printmaking background really informs how I put my work together, and things develop organically on the screen. I also make pictures using collage with ink, coloured pens, scissors and good old glue sticks.
Do you have a personal favourite fairytale – are you more of a Hans Christian Andersen or Brothers Grimm type of girl?
Actually, when you read the original versions of most fairytales, they are pretty nightmarish and surreal. If I had to choose I guess I’d go for the Grimm Brothers as I love the bizarre characters like Rumplestiltskin. However, I have three boys and I used to love reading them the old Ladybirds book version of Andersens‘ The 3 Billy Goats Gruff… I’d always be the troll!
When did you move to the Cotswolds, and what do you love most about the area?
I moved here eight years ago but it still feels exotic and mysterious to me. I know that I’ll never tire of the landscape, and Stroud where I live is a very creative and inclusive place.
What other projects are you currently working on, and what would be your dream commission?
At the moment I am working on a toy paper theatre design of Pinocchio for Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in Covent Garden. In 2015 I was long listed for the Folio illustration competition, which was to illustrate three Victorian ghost stories. I had never attempted to a draw a ghost before and I enjoyed the challenge of doing these pictures so much that I would love to illustrate a whole anthology – the more bizarre and fantastic the better.
‘I moved here eight years ago but it still feels exotic and mysterious to me’ Hannah Dyson
Muntjac, by Hannah Dyson
Comic book design for The Golden Thread Project, by Hannah Dyson
Middle Lypiatt, by Hannah Dyson