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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Art Show - see the worlds inside your head: Virtual WCF 2013

Tessa Farmer's tiny bloodthirsty world, Edward Miller's rich painterly towers, Autun Purser's vintage train ads for imaginary destinations, and Didier Graffet's immersive landscapes.

31 October - 3 November was the World Fantasy Convention 2013 in Brighton, filled with very good writers saying interesting things to each other about writerly topics. For those who missed it, this series is your own virtual WFC 2013.
Your convention day so far: From a mildly hungover start, you've heard Neil Gaiman in conversation with Jo Fletcher and a writerly panel on substance vs style, you've bypassed lunch in favour of finally tracking down coffee, you've hurtled back for a panel on writing for series TV, heard Terry Pratchett in conversation with Rob Wilkins, and went to a panel on women writing martial fantasy. Dazed, you drift in the direction of free wine - and find the worlds in your mind made real.

I grew up in a family of artists, so after two days' high-octane excitement, walking into the art hall felt like coming home. The show had dozens of artists and printmakers: these are just four of them, the ones that captured my imagination most. (All pictures are reproduced with the artists' permission.)

Tessa Farmer

Farmer's aerial installations show a tiny, bloodthirsty world of fairies that ride honeybees into battle, capture hedgehogs, and desecrate the corpses of rats, swallows, and other animals to use them as meals, weapons, and flying machines. All the work is made with natural materials - the same materials that the fairies themselves are scavenging, with the fairies made of fine plant roots. To appreciate the scale, remember that the fairies are the same size as wasps. The whole installation spread across two metres, including swarms of bees and the fairies' monstrous flying machines. Farmer's work is on exhibition at the Guild Hall art gallery in London until 8 December. (These photos are taken from two different exhibitions; click to enlarge.)

Edward Miller

Les Edwards paints fantasy illustrations under the name Edward Miller. From a distance, you see the rich atmosphere of his work: as you peer closer, you see his painterly approach and how he uses the texture of his canvas board to create effects.

The Weeping Tower: One of the interior illustrations for Scott Lynch's Republic of Thieves, published by Subterranean Press. Acrylics on canvas board, 20 x 24 inches

Close-up of The Weeping Tower (click to enlarge)

Close-up of The Weeping Tower (click to enlarge)
Viriconium: Cover for The Czech edition of M.John Harrison's Viriconium, which contains all the stories in this series. It's published by Lazer books. Acrylics on canvas board, 24 x 15 inches.
Red Seas Under Red Skies: The Golden Steps. One of four interior artworks for the Subterranean Press edition of Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies. Acrylics on canvas board, 20 x 16 inches.

Autun Purser

For this series, Purser took inspiration from the 1950s British Rail travel posters, offering instead the destinations of imaginary worlds in fantasy and science fiction. To replicate their printing constraints, he restricted himself to a palette of just 126 colours (6 blues, 6 greens, and so on). When you stand back, they appear printed: closer to, you can see the paint's texture. (The first two pictures are from the show; the others are from Purser's website.)

Purser's fantastic travel destinations: Solaris, with a selection of others on the left. 
Close-up of Solairs (click to enlarge)

To me, Graffet's work is the best of traditional fantasy illustration: rich, atmospheric, and immersive, creating a sense that you can step into the paintings, like the painting of the ship at the beginning of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by CS Lewis.

Next event in the Virtual WFC: World Building, with Patrick Rothfuss, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Robin Hobb, Hal Duncan, and Ellen Kushner.

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