Now that Morgan Arcade Studios has closed down, its artists have been forced to relocate. However, just because the artists are lacking a place to create their art doesn’t mean we can’t give them a home on our pages. Freddie Rochez showcases the former Morgan Arcade illustrators who continue to work in Cardiff. Be inspired by their creativity!
Julien Decaudin is originally from the south of France near Marseille. After living in London for six years, Decaudin relocated to Penarth near Cardiff in 2012. Decaudin is self-taught, and started off developing her skills as an artist by posting drawings on her blog. Her lack of an art education doesn’t seem to have hindered her. Instead, it has given her the freedom and drive to experiment in order to create her own unique style. Decaudin’s work shows her love of surrealism and nature, and she cites both Miro and McBess, artist she first encountered after moving to London in 2006, as key influences. Decaudin’s work feels like a dream; all pastel shades and unusual details. Like the best dreams, Decaudin’s pieces continue to develop and gain depth right under your eye. The use of calming pastel shades of pink, blue, and yellow only adds to the soothing effect of the images.
Daniel Hamilton, the founder of Morgan Arcade Studios, is originally from Carlisle, although he now lives and works fulltime in Cardiff. He set up the Studio after graduating from Cardiff School of Art and Design, where he studied Illustration. Hamilton’s work combines a sense of imaginative freedom with a focus on technology and infrastructure. Listing aviation and science as two key influences in his work, Hamilton creates images that are at once technical and surreal. His work is beautifully detailed, and often strays into unexpected areas. To Hamilton, an aeroplane isn’t just a piece of technology; it’s a living organism with a brain, a complex network of veins and arteries and, most importantly, feelings. Equally, the floor plan of an office needn’t be a simple map, as the internal walls become the organs of a three-legged man, with the toilets placed in a rather imaginative place on his anatomy.
Cathryn Weatherhead’s work shows the value of the hands-on approach as she designs, screen prints, assembles, packages and hand makes all of her products. These include a variety of products ranging from prints and cards to mugs and tea towels. Weatherhead often uses collage in her work, creating deceptively-simple and heart-warming scenes out of a variety of fabrics. While Weatherhead’s pieces may seem simple, they are far from simplistic, and her work includes some truly charming and engrossing images. A stand-out figure in Weatherhead’s art is a young boy named Hubert. One of the few humans to grace her images, Hubert is continually running into danger and appears to be afraid of almost everything. The bobble-hatted character lives in a continual state of terror, and there is something both comical and strangely endearing to this as he runs full-speed across the pages of Weatherhead’s unpublished book, ‘Hubert Butt’s Book of Fear’.
While members of the studio come from all over, Emma Levey is a South Wales girl to her core. After studying Illustration at the University of the West of England, she has returned to her home turf to pursue a career as an illustrator. Levey writes and illustrtates children’s picture books, creating textured paintings and hand-drawn illustrations. Drawing inspiration from her own childhood, Levey’s characters are colourful and whimsical, including parachuting poultry and cats in santa hats. Her most impressive work is reserved for her human characters, however, where Levey’s ability to convey emotion and movement shines off the page. The colour and energy isn’t limited to Levey’s work alone. Her first book ‘Hattie Peck’, which she wrote and illustrated, is out this February. ‘Hattie Peck’ may not have been released yet, but Levey has already finished her second book and is swiftly moving on to her third.