I have on my bookcase, nestling between the works of Gennady Spirin and Cicely Mary Barker, a small collection of sumptuously illustrated books by another gifted illustrator of equal stature by the name of Frances Tyrrell. She is one of those artists whose work deserves to be more widely known, so I decided to invite her round for a cuppa for a chance to get to know her a little better. We hope you will join us.
How do you take your tea and in what kind of cup do you like it served?
Thank you so much for inviting me. Hot, milky and sweet is how I like my tea please, and in a bone china mug or a cup and saucer – perhaps one of those beautiful mugs with a Valerie Greeley design?.
( Blushes, I did not pay her to say that! )
If you could choose anyone, past, present or future, who would be joining us for tea?
William Morris, to humbly hear whatever he would care to say about art, design, nature, literature and inspiration. If it were possible to invite one or two more I would include Arthur Rackham and Kay Nielsen, and I would love to have tea with Charles Kingsley too, and ask him for a story.
Will you tell us a little about your background in art and design?
I grew up with beautifully illustrated books in the house, second-hand volumes that my mother collected. I remember in particular a gorgeous edition of The Idylls of the Kings, and a charming nursery rhyme book from the 1920's, all of which fired my appreciation for design, detail and romance. I took fine arts at university but had to learn the illustrators' trade in the field, first with a major greeting card company and then with book publishers here and abroad.
Where are you based and does it influence your work?
Oakville, Ontario is my home, and my house and upstairs studio are just a block up the street from the lake. I have always lived in suburbs, with sidewalks on the one hand and on the other a glimpse of fairyland in nearby woods and fields. The long winters here can seem straight out of Hans Anderson's Snow Queen. As a youngster I was enchanted by the beautiful, complex frost patterns on windows and, like Anderson's Kay and Gerda, would press a heated coin into the frost to make a peephole. I still try to capture the magic of those sweeping snows and gardens of ice in my paintings.
What have you been doing/working on today?
Fairies and more fairies, as I prepare for an art show coming up in June, to coincide with International Fairy Day on June 24. Today I am sketching a fairy wedding, with a bride and groom and their attendants and a confetti of flower petals. This is the untidy stage, getting everyone lined up and properly dressed! The fairy wedding is part of the next Illustrated Fairy Gazette, the 6th in our series of miniature hand made fairy-to-fairy publications.
( Believe me, these hand made publications are exquisite, I bought a series a few years ago.)
I hope that you have brought along something wonderful to show us, what is it?
After the wedding the happy couple, fairy royalty, make their royal progress in this water lily carriage, inspired by the story of Thumbelina..
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat over a cuppa, albeit a virtual one.
My name is Valerie Greeley. I am an artist, surface pattern/textile designer and illustrator. I have a special interest in the book arts including illustration, bookbinding, printmaking and artist books. I also have an interest in quilting, nature and bumblebees.