The Migrant Waders illustrations

Artist and illustrator Ella Johnston created 21 bird illustrations and well as incidental and cover images  for The Migrant Waders book. Here she talks about the brief for the publication and her thinking behind the drawings…

The original brief was to create a collection of wading bird and shorebird drawings on a plain white background.

Woodcock Illustration, watercolour and fine line pen by Ella Johnston for The Migrant Waders
Woodcock Illustration, watercolour and fine line pen by Ella Johnston for The Migrant Waders

The creatures needed to be immediately recognisable and all drawings had to have a consistent style in order to work as a collection, while also being able to be used as stand-alone pieces.

Golden Plover Illustration, Watercolour and fine line pen by Ella Johnston, for The Migrant Waders
Golden Plover Illustration, watercolour and fine line pen by Ella Johnston, for The Migrant Waders

I frequently explore landscapes of woodland, coastlines and marshes, I feel a very deep connection with the different kinds of birds that inhabit each environment. My year now revolves around when these birds are in my space – and me in theirs. 

Dunlin Illustration, watercolour and fine line pen by Ella Johnston for The Migrant Waders
Dunlin Illustration, watercolour and fine line pen by Ella Johnston for The Migrant Waders

The waders are my real favourites. The sense of calm and serenity these birds give me is extraordinary. Time stands still when I’m watching the redshanks and godwits digging around in the mud. I marvel at the majesty of the curlew and elegance of the little egrets that visit our creek and quay. The high-pitched squeal of the lapwing, the pip of an oystercatcher and of course the comforting call of the curlew are transcendental – they take me out of whatever is going on in my life and bring me into the moment. I’m grateful to these creatures – they’ve given me peace. I have to draw them.

The application of colour is very loose, free and instinctive. Each portrait is created on watercolour paper that absorbs the paint and ink beautifully and I believe best shows off the quality of this medium. The birds are first drawn as a light sketch, in pencil, loosely highlighting key areas. Then, layers of watercolour washes are applied, each heavily diluted to gradually build up the colours – this provides interesting combinations of hues and texture. I then apply detailed drawings over this with a range of black felt tips – I love the way the different nibs allow me to work up the texture of each feather and capture the character of the plumage. Some pieces are heavily layered with black fine line ink detail, others only need a light touch – it’s a lovely way to work and, again, it’s an instinctive process.

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The birds are deliberately painted without a landscape. It’s an important artistic consideration for me. I want to emphasise and focus the viewer’s attention on the decorative, sensual elements of the subject itself, allowing the spectator to scrutinise, deconstruct and interact with the portrait. I also don’t feel it’s right to tie these birds down to a particular location: waders migrate across many lands and don’t recognise the borders that humans create and that we see on maps. They are my winter but someone else’s summer.

As well as creating a detailed wading bird illustrations, the Migrant Waders book also required an enigmatic cover illustration and accompanying imagery that gave the reader an idea of the sea and the depth of the oceans covered during migrants. Illustrations needed to be atmospheric – with a simultaneous sense of solidity and lightness.

Original cover image for The Migrant Waders by Ella Johnston
Original cover image for The Migrant Waders by Ella Johnston

This rather abstract image was created by applying layers of watercolour and merging two paintings together in photoshop to create a cover that suggested the sea and the sky. The book also features little watercolour droplets throughout the pages to key in with this sense of ‘journey’

You can buy The Migrant Waders here.

Praise for Dunlin Press

Dunlin Press and its authors have received many plaudits -– we felt it was only fair to share them with you…

Priced Out by Tinsel Edwards, photography Lady Ray
Priced Out by Tinsel Edwards, photography Lady Ray

Priced Out

‘Tinsel has written a valuable social document… Priced Out reads like a dispatch from a war zone. Which, in a way, it is.”
East Anglian Daily Times

‘An important voice to a problem that isn’t going away any time soon”
East End Review on Tinsel Edwards (The Poor Door exhibition review, 2015 
 

MW Bewick Scarecrow
Scarecrow

 
‘A seriously good poet – fierce, political, able to capture industrial and post industrial landscapes with precise and sometimes painful imagery, tender about the natural world – love it!’
Kate Foley, poet 
 
‘An ambitious book… I look forward to reading more of this poet’
Billy Mills, poet
 
‘Hugely accomplished’
Poetry Wivenhoe
 
‘If I ever write anything half as good as Scarecrow or have something that lovely looking published, I’ll be bloody happy’
David Southwell, author Hookland Guide
 

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The Migrant Waders

 
‘Central to this book are the beautiful drawings… another gorgeous work’
Daily Gazette
 
‘A rich mix of prose and reportage drizzled with a little poetry… an object of desire’
East Anglian Daily Times
 
‘Lavishly and exquisitely illustrated’
Caroline Gill, poet
 

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Est: Collected Reports from East Anglia

 
‘Books like Est must be able to be written again by the next generation’
Caught By The River
 
‘Uniformly excellent… well-edited, well designed, and unbreakable’
Ken Worpole, author of The New English Landscape
 
‘Strange, reflective, memorable and odd as the region itself’
Country Life
 
‘An excellent book’ 
Hidden Europe

About Priced Out Author Tinsel Edwards

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Tinsel Edwards, photography Lady Ray

Dunlin Press’ new release Priced Out is written by acclaimed artist Tinsel Edwards.

Priced Out is Tinsel’s first book and is being launched at Atom Gallery, 127 Green Lanes, London N16 on 3 August 2017, 6-9pm.

Tinsel Edwards (born 1979) is a British artist originally from Leamington Spa, England. She lives and works in London.

Tinsel’s art is politically motivated but there is also an autobiographical element – the subjects and themes she tackles often relate to her personal experiences. Predominantly she works with oil paint on canvas, but her varied practice also includes printmaking, sign writing and painting on different surfaces such as bedsheets, reclaimed wood and correx board.

She has exhibited across the UK and in Germany, Austria, Poland and America. She has worked with The Art Conference, Jealous Gallery, Pure Evil Gallery, The Art Car Boot Fair, and Galerie Michaela Stock in Vienna, amongst others, and has also produced work for Banksy’s Dismaland.

Tinsel was a singer in a girl punk band called The Fairies Band (2000-2007). She later co-founded a record label called Pushing Pussy Records. It specialised in 7” vinyl and provided a platform for female musicians. In 2012 she co-founded a gallery, project space and studios called A-side B-side in Hackney, East London.

Tinsel currently works from her Acme Studio in Homerton, East London, and lives with her husband and two children in Manor House, Haringey.

Buy Priced Out here.

Sneak peek: Limited Edition ‘Priced Out’ postcards

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Help us celebrate the launch of Tinsel Edwards’ book, Priced Out, at Atom Gallery, Green Lanes, on 3 August from 6pm.

The book is a personal and powerful account of being an artist during the capital’s growing housing crisis in the first years of the 21st century. It’s the true story of the degradation of quality of rented property, amid rising rents and costs of living, and during the huge explosion in unaffordable ‘luxury’ apartments. It’s about how artists, and the creative and cultural industries, have brought so much to this most wonderful, vibrant and diverse of capital cities. And it’s about how the cost of housing is forcing artists to turn away from the city they have lived and worked in, and loved, for many years. It’s a story that is common to many people in all walks of life. It’s a story of being priced out.

There will be words from Tinsel Edwards and Dunlin Press, and copies of the book will be available to buy at the launch.

We’ve also printed a limited edition range of postcards featuring Tinsel’s artwork that will be sold to raise money to help people in need after the Grenfell Tower fire.

Printed on high-quality, archival textured gesso card, the postcards are taken from a series of paintings and prints created by Tinsel that explore the human stories behind the crisis taking place in London housing. We have only printed 20 of each and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

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Book Launch! Tinsel Edwards: Priced Out

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Tinsel Edwards, Priced Out. Photography: Lady Ray

When living in London is unaffordable to so many, can the capital remain a creative force in the arts?

Dunlin Press are proud to announce the launch of Dismaland artist Tinsel Edwards’ debut book, Priced Out

Priced Out will be launched at Atom Gallery, 127 Green Lanes, London N16 on 3 August 2017, 6-9pm. atomgallery.co.uk

Limited edition copies of the book will be available to buy at the launch.
A set of postcards featuring Tinsel’s artwork will also be sold to raise money to help people in need after the Grenfell Tower fire.

Priced Out is a personal and powerful look at the declining state of housing in the capital through the eyes of an artist. It traces the high rises in cost of rented accommodation, the spiralling property prices, and skewers the reasons why artists, who contribute – like so many others – so much to the character, wellbeing and uniqueness of London life, are being priced out of the city.

Tinsel Edwards says of the book:

“It’s my artist’s story – of how and why I started making artwork about the crisis in London housing. It’s the story of artist friends and the people I know. I am proud to have lived here for nearly 20 years. But the London I have known and loved is changing. When I arrived, I felt that I belonged. I wanted to contribute to this fascinating, wonderful place that pulsated with the energy and creativity of communities old and new. Now when I walk the streets I feel like an outsider. Wealth and finance have taken over. The streets don’t feel like they’re mine any more. I am an artist. This is the story of how I came to London to work, and how I – and the fellow artists I’ve met and worked with – are being forced to turn away from the capital. It’s a story that is common to so many people in all walks of life. It’s a story of being priced out.”

Tinsel’s art comments on a variety of contemporary social and political issues. In 2015 her work was selected to be part of Dismaland, Banksy’s ‘bemusement park’ in Weston-Super-Mare. Banksy is a collector of Tinsel’s work and previously invited her to take part in a Santa’s Ghetto exhibition. She has presented work at the first edition of The Art Conference, produced by Tina Ziegler, and exhibited widely across Europe and America. She has worked with Jealous Gallery, Pure Evil Gallery, The Art Car Boot Fair and Galerie Michaela Stock, amongst others. Other titles from Dunlin Press: The Migrant waders, Est: Collected Reports from East Anglia, and Scarecrow.

Priced Out by Tinsel Edwards, photography Lady Ray
Priced Out by Tinsel Edwards. Photography: Lady Ray

Priced Out

Priced Out by Tinsel Edwards, photography Lady Ray
Priced Out by Tinsel Edwards, photography Lady Ray

The artists get there first. They seek out the empty quarters, the vacated spaces, the places in flux and transition. Transience and indeterminacy fires creativity. Disused industrial complexes can be easily remodelled into studio spaces and, sometimes, homes. Housing in less well thought of districts, or areas in decline and decay, is cheaper – affordable for artists who might only have a small income, or a more insecure income, or whose modest income from their creativity must be topped up with other, low-paid, sometimes non-permanent work. But the success of the creative sector can also be its undoing. Money follows creativity, although it is rarely shared out fairly with the artists themselves. Instead, it seeks out and exploits for its own ends the highly marketable quality of ‘cool’ that is inherent in artistic production. The creative quarters of any city so often become places of rampant commerce and capitalism that flushes resident communities out of the area. Behind the newly polished veneer of the creative quarter is the real deal – the rising rents and lowering of living standards that deteriorate as the artists seek to establish themselves. And so, just as the artists are the first to arrive, they are also the first to leave, priced out of a postcode – canaries in the coal mine – signalling the cost of what’s to come. 

Scarecrow: now available to order

MW Bewick Scarecrow

You can now order Scarecrow from our shop, here.

This debut collection of poems from MW Bewick transfigures contemporary landscapes of the city and the countryside in an unsettling flux of fractured narrative time and atomised human agency. Here, a panorama of gleaming towers and blood-red cranes mirrors another of overgrown flora and shorelines collapsing into the sea. At the book’s heart is the figure of the scarecrow – a monad, feet cemented, ragged legs flailing, unable – or unwilling – to act as the world rushes by. At turns wistful, angry, and touched with remorse, this inventive and thought-provoking volume brings together registers of folk, baroque and the surreal to confront a 21st-century sense of existential crisis.

MW Bewick is a writer of poetry and fiction. He works, and is widely published, as a journalist. He lives in Wivenhoe, Essex. See more at mwbewick.commwbewick.com

The book is a limited edition of 94 copies, signed and numbered. Orders can be placed now and will also include a limited edition, hand-stamped poem and a postcard.

New poetry: Scarecrow, by MW Bewick

MW Bewick Scarecrow

We are so pleased that we’re finally publishing Scarecrow, by MW Bewick, next week, Friday 17 March. The book will be launched in Wivenhoe, Essex, at The Wivenhoe Bookshop, at 6.30pm for 7pm.

This debut collection of poems from MW Bewick transfigures contemporary landscapes of the city and the countryside in an unsettling flux of fractured narrative time and atomised human agency.

Here, a panorama of gleaming towers and blood-red cranes mirrors another of overgrown flora and shorelines collapsing into the sea. At the book’s heart is the figure of the scarecrow – a monad, feet cemented, ragged legs flailing, unable – or unwilling – to act as the world rushes by.

At turns wistful, angry, and touched with remorse, this inventive and thought-provoking volume brings together registers of folk, baroque and the surreal to confront a 21st-century sense of existential crisis.

About the author

MW Bewick is writer of poetry and fiction, and the co-founder of  Dunlin Press. He lives in Wivenhoe, Essex, with his wife, the artist and illustrator Ella Johnston. He is an organiser at Poetry Wivenhoe, where he regularly reads.

Scarecrow is his first full collection of poetry. His writing can also be found in Dunlin Press’s The Migrant Waders and Est: Collected Reports from East Anglia.

He has previously worked as literary manager of the Blue Elephant Theatre, London, and as a singer and songwriter he released a self-titled EP and 7-inch single on Hard Graft records, as well as an EP with Acertone. He works, and is widely published, as a journalist.

Our writers: 2

 

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Here’s the second of four posts telling you a little more about some of our contributors.

Dr James Canton has written widely in creative non-fiction forms and taught on the MA in Wild Writing at the University of Essex since its inception in 2009, exploring the ties between the literature and landscape of East Anglia. He has run many workshops to encourage writing on nature and landscape, and worked on Radio 4 detailing the writing and landscapes of Essex such as for ‘Something Understood’ on John Clare and Epping Forest (August 2014) and ‘Open Country’ on Tollesbury Wick and literary Essex (November 2015). His book Out of Essex: Re-Imagining a Literary Landscape (2013) is inspired by rural wanderings in the county. Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric Britain is forthcoming with Collins in 2017.

Tim Cunningham is an Irish poet who lives in Essex. His collections, Don Marcelino’s Daughter (2001) and Unequal Thirds (2006) were published by Peterloo Poets;  Kyrie (2008), Siege (2012) and Almost Memories (2014) by Revival Press.

Ivan Cutting helped found Eastern Angles in 1982 and is now its chief executive and artistic director. The company is a National Portfolio Organisation of the Arts Council and creates theatre with a sense of place. He has also written many of its plays, including in 2012 Private Resistance and in 2015 Oysters. For Radio 4 he wrote and directed The Reapers Year. He regularly contributes to the Birkbeck MFA Director’s course, is a Fellow of Suffolk New College, a Trustee of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust, a director of New Heritage Solutions and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by UEA/University College Suffolk in 2004.

Mark Deal is a sound recordist, working between the field and the studio. An Essex-native, Mark aims in his sound work to provide a sense of what it was like to be in place (real or imagined) at a specific place and time. His website is at veryreverend.com.

Luke Elwes is a painter whose work has been exhibited widely in the UK and Europe since his first exhibition in 1990. He currently divides his time between the studio in London and the marshes, islands and creeks on the Essex coast.

Elaine Ewart is a poet and nature writer who recently completed an MA in Wild Writing: Literature and the Environment at the University of Essex. She was the first Fenland Poet Laureate in 2012, and her first short poetry collection, Fur, Feather and Fen, was self-published in 2014. She blogs at flightfeather.wordpress.com.

Dr Tim Gardiner is an ecologist and poet. His haiku have been published in literary magazines including Blithe Spirit, Frogpond and Presence. A collection of poetry, Wilderness, is published by Brambleby Books. He has published many papers on natural history and several books, including one about glow-worms.

Lander Hawes is a writer whose novel Captivity was published by Unthank Books in 2012. His story ‘Bird Tables for Swans’ was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize 2014, and ‘Differences in Lifts’ appeared in Unthology 2. He has read at events in London, Norwich and at the Short Wonder Short Story festival. He lives and works in Norwich.

Robert Jackson was born Cheltenham in 1944 and between 1962 to 1967 studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Between 1967 and 1969 he lived in a barn at Pattles Farm, Knodishall, Suffolk and moved into the former Primitive Methodist Chapel, Westleton in 1977. There, as Westleton Chapel Gallery, he mounted art exhibitions from 1979 to 1991, and in 1982, as Chapel Books, began selling rare and secondhand books. In 2009 he launched chapelbooks.com.

More to follow…

Our authors

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Dunlin Press has been very lucky to work with some incredible writers on both Est, Collected Reports from East Anglia and The Migrant Waders.

You can buy Est here.

Here’s our first post telling you a little more about some of our contributors.

Wendy Mulford grew up in Wales, has has lived in London, Cambridge and Suffolk and has taught in Cambridge and London (latterly at Anglia Ruskin and Cambridge universities) for 30 years. She founded the influential poetry press Street Editions in 1971. And Suddenly, Supposing: Selected Poems was published by Etruscan Press in 2002 and The Land Between was published by Reality Street in 2009. Recent work has appeared in By the North Sea: An Anthology of Suffolk Poetry, edited by Aidan Semmens (Shearsman, 2013) and she has also contributed to In Her Own Words: Women Talking Poetry and Wales,  edited by Alice Entwistle (Seren  2014).

Martin Newell is a musician and writer. He makes records and writes books. He has written for the Independent titles, the Guardian, Mojo, Record Collector, Viz comic and other titles. He is currently the Saturday columnist for the East Anglian Daily Times and resident poet for the Sunday Express. He lives in Essex where he divides his time.

Chris Petit is a novelist and filmmaker. During the 1970s he was film editor for Time Out and wrote for the Melody Maker. His 1979 road movie Radio On is considered a cult classic. Novels include Robinson (1993), The Hard Shoulder (2001) and The Passenger (2006).

Philip Crummy  was born in Edinburgh. He is a member of the Institute for Archaeologists and the director and chief archaeologist of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, a registered charity founded in 1963 to research into and promote the archaeology of Colchester. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex in 2008.

Melinda Appleby is an East Anglian writer exploring connections between the nature and culture of land and has been published in Est, Collected Reports from East Anglia and Words and Women Two. She has won Country Living’s Best Writer Award, has a Creative Writing diploma from the University of East Anglia and an MA in Wild Writing from the University of Essex. When not penning her own work, she runs Sandlines with Lois Williams, providing bespoke landscape writing workshops. She can be found at melindaappleby.co.uk.

Edmund Blakeney is a writer and graduate of English Literature from the University of Essex. He has lived most of his life in Norfolk and is fascinated by the obscure and marginal literary heritage of East Anglia and by the ‘hidden treasures’ of English folklore.

We’ll be rounding up a few more in the coming days. And adding a few more to the list later in 2017.