Press Release; Local artist painted sculpture sales raise £57,000 for good Causes

Work by Sheffield based illustrator and mural artist Sian Ellis has raised £57,142 for charities for works painted since March this year. The works have all been on display as part of arts trails across the U.K. throughout the Summer and Autumn of 2019. 

Starting with a 6 foot wallaby in the Isle of Man in the Spring, Sian has travelled to the sites of 4 trails across the U.K. to create the painted pieces, including sometimes multiple works for individual trails. Four of the sculptures painted have been for projects in collaboration with Wild in Art. A partner behind the Herd of Sheffield in 2016.

Each trail raises money for local charities in its city. Causes include funding a new gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo and raising money for St Oswolds Hospice in Northumberland. 

Sian painted her designs into fibre glass and porcelain sculptures which were then auctioned for charity by the trail organisers. The highest earner of Sian’s work was her design entitled ‘Our Island’ for Go Wild Gorillas in Jersey. The design features local landmarks throughout history, stratified through layers of land, sea and archeological finds deep under ground, The sculpture fetched a whopping £27,000 when auctioned on the island in early November.

Quote from Sian

“I’ve loved taking part in every single trail that I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this summer. I’ve had the chance to visit some beautiful places for the first time, and work alongside some brilliant artists. Plus every trail has been raising money for inspiring causes. Even when my first porcelain sculpture for the Great York Ghost Hunt smashed in transit back to the trail, I just jumped on a train and started it again, so the piece could remain part of the trail and be auctioned off for local homelessness charities. 

I’m absolutely delighted and flabbergasted with the amounts the sculptures have raised. I still can’t quite believe it! I have already been commissioned to produce works for a further two trails in 2020 and am looking forward to growing the charity raise even further”

Auction Breakdown

£25,000 raised for gorilla design ‘Jersey Boy’ featuring hand knitted elements, part of the Go Wild Horillas trail in Jersey raising money for Durrell Zoo

£27,000 for gorilla design ‘Our Island’ as part of the same trail

£2,000 raised for Elmer elephant design ‘Nice to Be Nice’, a sculpture covered in fun characters and compliments as part of ‘Great North Elmer’ raising money for St Oswolds Hospice in Northumberland 

£3,000 raised for a wallaby design ‘Our Community’ covered in colourful characters raising money for Hospice Isle of Man 

£142 raised for a small porcelain ghost lamp painted for the Great York Ghost Search raising money for local homelessness charities 

More info 

Sianellisillustration.co.uk

Www.instagram/thisissianellis 

Cows About Cambridge Announcement

I am excited to be announcing that I am an artist for cows about Cambridge! 

Another one?

YES! This will be my fifth sculpture for wild in art this year across 4 U.K. cities. That’s not counting the cheeky little York ghost hunt ghost Nellie. The trail won’t be live until 2020 though so there’s a little bit of time to wait for my sculpture to hit the streets.

Even More excitingly I am partnered with the projects headline sponsor Govia Thames link. It means that I already know where my sculpture will be based. Tying in with the theme of the design, it will be based in the train station. A building that will feature in the cow itself. 

I love the idea of my cow welcoming people into the city! A mini map to be their first friendly intro to the city. The design features lots of local land marks, painted fun, bold and bright. It also features Gomes, escalated to the status of landmarks. This is to give a shout out to the local folk who make the city what it is.

Working with the headline sponsor means I’ll expect to be more involved in the trail that’s perhaps some of the others. I’m excited to see how it goes though.

How about the design?

Find my Instagram profile to see how I get on, and get a first peek at the sculpture. With such a great success of auctions of my other sculptures as of late, it will be amazing to break the £60,000 raised for charity mark with my sculptures. 

Plus, stay turned for another Charity sculpture announcement…

48 Spooky Hours in London

Back in October I visited London to celebrate my birthday… twice in one week.

Lucky gal, eh? Having an October birthday and loving all things spooky is the best. I actually think there’s a correlation. Cause and effect, positive association.

In my next two blogs I am going to review my two spooky trips. 

The Last Tuesday Society/ Victor Wynd Museum 

I have wanted to visit this cocktail bar come curiosity museum from the moment I found out there is a cocktail bar come curiosity museum! In previos trips to London it has always felt a little too off the beaten path. Imagine the joy when we arrived in London I realised that it was on the very same street as our hotel this time round. Kismet or what? 

In the heart of Bethnal Green you’ll find this quirky bar. Filled with taxidermy specimens and an array of trinkets. The cocktails are good and unusually named. So because many take inspiration from some of the depths of the Victor Wynd museum.

The museum is based in the cosy bar’s basement and subject to an additional entry fee. Definitely worth the extra few quid to me though. I had been dying to look inside!

What awaited was weird art, old porn and even more taxidermy. Tiny fortune teller moles and karate champion mice. One of my highlights included a cake that was a life size charred corpse in a state of autopsy. The museum is small but full and a lot of fun after a few too many particularly boozy cocktails. 

Journey to the Underworld

I am a total sucker for immersive experience, and immersive dining experiences are the best of the best. We completely stumbled upon this one. In a late night google for tomorrow’s restaurants we found this gem 10 minutes walk from our hotel. This immersive dining experience isn’t always spooky themed but lucky for me it was then. 

Furnicular productions deliver one hell of an experience. You are handed your literal train ticket to hell as you arrive before being directed to the sin themed cocktails in the creepy station bar (mango and scotch bonnet chilli? Yes please!) A few tricks and treats await you but the show really begins once you board the dining cart.

A clever use of animation and tech alongside some good for a laugh actors are what creates the immersion. The whole thing is enjoyable from start to finish. The food is created by Masterchef the Professionals Finalist Louisa Ellis and really good quality. Each course was well timed with the entertainment. The only thing I would have preferred is a bit of choice as opposed to a set 

menu since the food didn’t seemed linked to the experience in any way. 

The Ragged House Ghost Hunt

The perfect way to end our spooky weekend was with our first ever ghost hunt. A birthday treat from my other half. Find out more about how we got on and if we bagged any spooks in my previous blog.

I Went on a Real Life Ghost Hunt

When I was a kid I used to try and catch ghosts at home. I know that can’t surprise you given how much ghosts feature in my work. This October though I got to go on my first ever paranormal investigation!

We’re going on a ghost hunt!

It was a birthday surprise from my other half and I thought I’d share my experience with you guys as I know a lot of you like spooky stuff too! The ghost hunt took place in London at the Ragged School Museum in Tower Hamlets.

Setting the Scene

We arrived at the museum at 9pm after a day exploring the capital. We were welcomed by some friendly and welcoming paranormal investigators and some fancy and complicated looking equipment. They pointed us towards the teas and coffees where we should await further instruction. If we are going to last the night, we’re going to need a lot of caffeine! To my surprise there were about forty others waiting for the hunt to start, who knew ghost hunts were so popular?

A Nighttime Tour of the Ragged Museum

A volunteer of the museum started the night by taking us on a tour of the Ragged School. He showed us the rooms across the four floors and told us about the history of the building. As well as a Victorian school, the building had later become a leather jacket factory. There was nothing creepy or macabre in his tales but it gave us some context about where we were.

Let the Hunt Commence!

Our first activity was as our whole group of forty. Our lead investigators encouraged us to open our minds and get in the correct energy set for the evening. Afterwards we split into teams of 10 and undertook experiments in groups around the building. These ranges from Ouija boards to various sensors to white noise in a radio. Unfortunately, not much was explained about the experiments or how they work. A cynic might say because they don’t and there’s nothing to explain, but I’m sure there’s more of a basis in them than that.

So are you full Sixth Sense now Sian?

Honestly? No. There was nothing presented to me that evening that made me think we had contacted anyone from the other side. There were instances to make me think that we had some cheeky planchette pushers among us, and some folk with big imaginations but evidence of ghosts? Not in my books. 

Thing is, I didn’t expect too. We had a laugh, a spooky adventure and a very memorable birthday treat. It didn’t feel much more advanced than me dusting flour over my toys as a child to see if a ghost moved them, btu then again, that was its charm. 

 

Halloween Film Recommendations Round 2

So it’s after Halloween now, I get it. Do you care though? No, me neither, and there’s more films I want to tell you about too! Here’s more horror recommendations from me to get you over the post Halloween blues.

The Witch

Robert Eggers is one of two directors I have my eye firmly on at the moment. The next director we will discuss in my next entry to the list. ‘The Witch’ is an indie horror that was under so much hype when it was released that it would be too easy to disappoint. However, I think it deserved every bit of it. Set in the US during the height of witch hunt paranoia. We follow a family trying to find out who is responsible for the loss of their son. As the film progresses, fingers point increasingly inwards.

I once showed this film in a woodland at night. It was every bit as perfect a setting as I’d hoped it would be. If you can’t manage that though, a regular old domicile is just fine. A family becomes torn apart by accusations and fear. There are some stand out lines of dialogue and characters who have gone on to gain cult status.

Hereditary

This is a film that divides people but I am staunchly in camp Ari Aster. His more recent offering of ‘Midsommer’ was a work of art too. If you are going to start somewhere though, start with ‘Hereditary’. Another film that focuses on the trials of a family following tragedy. I watched this film in an evening and spent about five days afterwards on the internet because of it. Looking at fan theories, researching the inspiration and generally just trying to get my head around the whole glorious thing.

It’s another example of why everything that Toni Collette touches turns to gold. Mostly though it is a beautifully crafted construction of a tragic tale. An example of extraordinary horror in a familiar suburban setting.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

I will tell you barely anything about this one as this genre bending horror is just too easy to give away. Here we have a chamber piece set in a father son mortuary as they perform an autopsy of a beautiful corpse found in strange circumstances. The film is beautifully suspenseful and has you guessing till the end. Tensions are built ever so slowly and unnervingly as we try to work out just what in the hell is going on. The twists and turns are satisfying and well presented and make the film well worth a watch.

The Ritual

This British horror tells the tale of a group of men on a hiking holiday in Sweden who encounter something strange in the woods. This horror takes its roots in folklore and explores something of a wicker man style narrative. What sets it apart is the artistry of the sometimes surreal cinematography as the characters try to retain their sanity and friendships whilst processing the horror of the situation that they are in and tragedy stemming from the loss of a friend. Plus it’s got Raife Spall in and he is always great!

What We Do in the Shadows

I’ve just reccomended you 8 of my favourite horror films, so right about now you are probably in need of a laugh! One of the best comedy films in recent years in my opinion is What We Doin the Shadows. This documentary focuses on a group of vampires in a flat share in New Zealand and it is just zinger after zinger after zinger. Imagine what it must be like to live with a flat mate who doesn’t do the dishes, but for 200 years?

If you love Flight of the Conchords, Thor Ragnorrok or Hunt for the Wilderpeople then you are guaranteed to love this. I find myself assuming everyone has seen it, but then I meet people who haven’t so I will recommend it till I am blue in the face.

 

I hope you have found some new things on my last couple of blogs, if you think of a film that you’d think I would like, be sure to comment and let me know!

Halloween Special: Movie Recommendations

We interrupt this regular blog for a Halloween special. 

It’s my favourite time of year and I know that lots of folk who follow my work feel that way too. So let’s take some time off from  the world of illustration and take on my top movie reccomendations for the big night.

I’ve picked some more well known favourites and some hidden gems, but these are the flicks that I think deserve to grace your screen this Halloween. 

So grab your popcorn, your best hidey blanket and a stiff drink and let’s get spooked! 

You’re Next

I’m a big fan of indie horror that play with genres, tropes and formulas that we expect to see in a horror film. You’ll notice this as a theme in this kit and ‘You’re Next’ is no exception. 

It tells the tale of a woman going to spend a weekend with her boyfriend’s family when a gang of masked intruders descend on their remote hideaway. Sounds fun if the mill enough. Our lead then proceeds to take the tired and stale damsel in distress act and karate kick it’s face off. I won’t tell you anymore, but this smart feminist horror is well worth a watch.

Get Out

This Oscar winning horror from Jordan Peele broke the mould for all the right reasons. It’s no secret that horror has always been incredibly white and this sociological horror about the experience of being a young man of colour in the US is perfectly political. I could discuss everything perfect  ending for days but I won’t put any spoilers here. It balances comedy with serious issues and has some stunning moments of cinematography. The story and characters are well developed and it’s relevant. It’s important. It’s about the world we live in today. I can’t recommendations it enough and Peele has done wonders for the horror genre by bringing it to us.

They’re Watching

A slightly obscure option but I have a soft spot for this found footage horror comedy. A television crew travel to Eastern Europe to film a sequel to a reality tv show about an American woman building her dream home in the wilds of Moldova. However, they soon find themselves on the wrong side of the superstitious locals in a country where they are true outsiders.

There’s something kind of cheesy about it, but I enjoy how the story unfolds and the entertaining climax. There are more cerebral and serious found footage horrors out there (As Above So Below for example) but this is an enjoyable ride and an easy watch.

Trick r Treat 

It’s Halloween and this is a Halloween must see. The film is set on one Halloween night as an anthology of spooky stories become intertwined. Bringing us the loveable Sam who has fast become a horror icon, we learn the rule of Halloween and what you must do to stay safe.

The stories are all very different but blend together perfectly. There are shocks and surprises along the way and the film encapsulates the spirit of Halloween. It’s almost  reminiscent of a book of ghost stories, or the tales you would hear on the playground as a child. What results is a Halloween movie with a sense of nostalgia and perfect for an autumn night viewing. 

Drawlloween 2019 and other Drawing Challenges

It’s that time of year again! Last year was my first drawlloween and boy did I love it. I am super busy but I need to make time for it. I rarely draw anything for the sake these days. I am Commission after commission at the moment and I want to break free for a bit of growth drawing. Plus it’s all spooky themed so OF COURSE I am all about it. 

How to pick your challenges 

In last year’s review I crowned Mab Graves’ drawlloween my favourite. I will be doing Mab’s again this year for sure. She has released her prompts and I have been collecting inspiration already. I want to do more challenges but I need to be sensible of my time. So I will do alternate days on drawing challenges  as opposed to more than one daily challenge.

This year feels like approximately one billion new challenges have sprung up. It makes choosing harder, and also feels a bit of a shame that people seem to be splintering off? I haven’t decided which I will do yet, but odds are that I will foot between. There is no shame in doing one for a day or two and moving on to another. Letting a prompt inspire you is perhaps the most important thing. Well, to me it is anyway!

A bonus challenge that isn’t drawing

I will also be doing Notebook of Ghost’s ‘31 Spooky Stories’ challenge. The challenge is to read a spooky short story a day. It’s nothing to do with drawing but it sounds fun. As well as making more time for aimless drawing, making more time for other hobbies is in my priority list too. Finding time and love for reading is important o me in addressing the right balance in life alongside running my own business. The short story angle means that when I am really hard up on time it’s not something that will take over my evening to do. 

As always, follow along my Instagram @thisissianellis to see what I come up with for each challenge, and check out my stories for details on the short stories I will read. 

Hashtags to check out 

#31spookystories

#drawlloween

#mabsdrawlloweenclub2019

#inktober

Halloween Window Drawing

I would LOVE TO DO THIS. That’s my main headline

This year I have designed a package for store front businesses for me to create a one of a kind Halloween window drawing for them. It combines two of my favourite things, big public art and Halloween spooks!

Halloween is the one time of year that my art style is particularly en vogue with the masses. I’m always gonna be a ‘draw ghosts in July’ kinda gal, it’s just nice to see everyone else rocking it once a year too! You could even say that October is when I gain my mass appeal. I’m Cinderella all month long and then at the stroke of November I turned back into a carved grinning pumpkin for the rest of the year.

I’d like to create bright, cute and spooky Halloween scenes temporarily for the Halloween period. The designs are wipe clean when the storefront wants to inevitably get ready for Christmas.

The designs can be tailor made in include messages, the business name or Halloween greetings. Store owners can input any specific ideas they have and I will happily chat to customers and passers by as I work.

It’s fun, it’s good for business and CAN YOU TELL I REALLY WANT TO DO IT

Halloween in the U.K. seems to be a holiday that is growing in popularity year on year. You just have to look at the rise in Fear Farms, Pumpkin Picking and the cult of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte. I believe it has real pull power for customers. It’s a sure fire way to make your business stand out on a busy high street.

Plus, it’s really flexible. Whether you are a comic book shop or a cafe, a restaurant or an estate agents. It works for lots of different customer focused businesses. It can even brighten up an office. Furthermore, even though I LOVE Halloween, I can design windows for other occasions too.

I am really keen to try this idea so if you are a business or know a business who might fancy it, send them my way and let’s get the ball rolling!

Guilt free days off and other pigs that fly

It’s a unique trait of the self employed. You’d never work a salaried job and feel guilty on your day off, would you? I suppose it’s partly down to diffused responsibility, and the lack there of in self employment. Your business will succeed or fail by your hand alone. It’s easy to feel like you aren’t doing enough. It means that every day you aren’t all about you business you can experience a nagging feeling. A feeling that tells you that those lost hours are integral you your businesses success. 

 

Sound familiar?

 

It’s way too familiar for me. I give myself days off when I am sick or have something to do I booked in ages in advance. Even for the nice days there’s a. Lice in my head telling me I can’t afford it. Even on the sick days I squeeze in some blog writing or Instagramming or digital work. Heck, I’m describing the days off I give myself and they aren’t even real days off!

 

I know I shouldn’t feel guilty because they are absolutely necessary. Working forever without a day off only leads to exhaustion. It means poor decision making and panicked priorities. I know this in theory but I struggle to convince myself to act accordingly. It’s something I am working on. Burn out is a real threat. Plus time for friends and family is important. 

 

As I write this I have given myself a day off. I am exhausted, stiff and headachey. It’s a big step, but I’m still not doing it right. For instance, I am writing this. Stock has been ordered, I’ve done some social media and I updated my accounts. I did have a good breakthrough though. I forgave myself for it. Today I had painting plans and I had to postpone them. It twisted my insides up. I kept thinking of just going and powering through. This would inevitably lead to a horrible and exhausted week ahead as my next day off won’t be for 7 days. 

 

Be a friend to yourself

 

I once read about an experiment that is relevant to all this. It was found that the part of your brain that is engaged when you think about yourself in the future is not the same as the one that thinks of yourself in the present. In fact it’s the part that engages when you think about other people. This means that you don’t think of your future self as truly yourself. It is what leads us to impulsive behaviour. It’s what leads us to do things in the present at the expense of our future self. It’s relevant because it means it’s easier to forget about the needs of your future self. The guy whose gonna be the one burning out. Be Kind to that guy. Be a friend to yourself. 

 

I am trying to learn that lost work hours aren’t lost hours. They just have a different priority. Whether it is well being or social, or even just the benefit of returning to your work with fresh eyes. Time off is time well spent. We all need it, some of us just need to let ourselves have it. 

Villa Gaiety Mini Wallaby Sculptures Commission

My recent Wallabies Gone Wild sculpture was sponsored by the wonderful Villa Gaeity theatre in Douglas. They are part of a small but vibrant entertainment complex in the islands capital. The Victorian Gaeity theatre the jewel in its crown. 

Wild in Art encourages its sponsors to offer incentives to followers of the trail. I assume it is to encourage app downloads and consequently generate more funds for the partner charity.

Villa Gaiety kept right into the challenge and provided a range of fun and engaging competitions throughout the trail. This included a selfie competition and the chance to win some vouchers and original art.

The commission

I was commissioned to design 5 mini wallabies by Villa Gaiety. The small wallaby sculpture was created by Wild in Art. They are available to take home from IOM hospice shops for the public to design. Villa Gaiety commissioned me to paint 5 small sculptures based on my large wallaby design. One was kept by the TheTre and four were for competition winners.

The designs

Each design featured 2 characters from the matter design. I felt it was important to keep the designs individual and not direct replicas of the larger design, the large sculpture will be auctioned off for charity. It’s only fair for it to be a total one of work of art! Also, the small size of the design meant that to get a bold design it made more sense to include less characters per wallaby.

The process

I used a mix of posca pens and acrylic paint. I used the exact same products to design the large wallaby sculpture. Also I used a smaller pallet to reflect the fewer characters and keep a good consistency between the designs. 

It was lovely to see on social media as the designs found their new homes. A great way to share art and engage people with the trail.