If you’re Manchester based, you might have noticed there’s been a bit of an outbreak. A swarm of giant Bees have landed on the streets of the city…and they’re here to stay for the summer! Wild in Art and Manchester City Council have joined forces on #BeeintheCity – a project which promises to celebrate the city’s great wealth of creative talent with over 100 winged designs, on display now until 23 September. My design was kindly sponsored by Henry Boot PLC - one of the most progressive companies of its kind within the UK. Established over 130 years ago, the company operates nationally in property development and investment, land promotion, construction and plant hire. They create spaces that not only impress but that also stand the test of time. I’ve already been on a bit of a journey with this project from the very early stages of pitching my idea and my design being selected, to taking on the huge sculpture…which took around 6.5 days to finish – and quite a few late shifts! My colourful, illustrative bee takes inspiration from Manchester’s ever-changing skyline. It tells a story about the bustling city and the worker ‘bees’ that have shaped it. I don’t want to spoil it for those yet to see it but you can expect a flavour of my original Manchester cityscape with lots of surprises along the way. This design includes all three of the city’s universities alongside familiar greats like the Central Library and the Town Hall and Danger Mouse. Yes, Danger Mouse! I wanted to celebrate even more greats born from the city with this drawing and that included Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall from Cosgrove Hall Films, the British animation studio who created the famous rodent! Right, I’ve said enough, I promise there’s lots more to see and find on the surface of my bee but for now I’ll leave it for you to discover. Watch this space for detailed annotations of my design - so you can check whether or not you spotted everything hidden in my doodle lines! As I write this, the bees have only just settled into their new homes and I’ve already seen so many great shots of my bee in situ in St Ann’s Square (please do tag us in yours and use #skylinebee on social!). I’m loving hearing about all the different things people are spotting in my drawing. I wanted people to be able to spend time looking at my bee (maybe over several days or weeks) and spot something new every now and again that makes them smile. To take on finding the 101 Manchester bees, download the trail map here. Discover my Manchester inspired range of gifts and homeware here.
Get the feeling he’s got enough socks or maybe even one too many mugs? Don’t worry, as Father’s Day looms, we’re taking a look at some of our gifts guaranteed to make Dad smile. *NEW* Stadium Range How could we not start with Meha’s latest designs? The perfect present for football crazed Dads can be found in our Stadium range. If the man about your house is a fan of Man U, Man City, Newcastle United, Chelsea, West Ham or if he simply loves to watch England play – take a look today! Our glass coasters from this range are proving a popular pick and come in easy to wrap branded boxes! Meha will be adding even more stadiums to the range too, so if there’s one you’d love to see let us know. Cityscape Coasters The perfect companion for all of those mugs (which we also stock just in case he hasn’t got quite enough!). Our range of skyline coasters are sure to take Dad down memory lane with illustrations depicting Manchester, London, Liverpool, New York and even more available. Perfectly sized to post to Dad’s that don’t live nearby, opt for classic glossy wood coasters or take a look at our premium glass options. Discover the range now! Serving Platters Our new Serving Platters will delight cheese board lovers and midnight feast fans alike! Your Dad will be able to enjoy the famous skylines of Manchester and Newcastle alongside his favourite nibbles with our current platters – available in a variety of sizes and woods. AND if it really is a mug you’re after. Our bold cityscape mugs offer something a little bit different for a Dad who thinks he’s seen it all…. Our last order date for Father’s Day is Monday 11 June, and delivery is FREE on orders of £50 or more with code 'HappyDad'!
If there's one day of the year you don't want to forget, it's probably Mothering Sunday. And this year it falls earlier than usual. Famed as THE day to celebrate and thank the women that brought us into the world as well as other maternal figures, Mums across the country are already excited at the prospect of a lie-in (and maybe even the possibility of breakfast in bed!) on Sunday 11 March. We told you it was early! We all know the thing most Mums value is quality time spent with loved ones. If you’re looking for some inspiration of what else to give, read on to discover our top picks that might just help Mum remember a precious moment (or two) spent in some of the UK's most famous cities – as well a few further afield… If Mum’s going to be able to relax and maybe even get cosy, one of our cityscape cushions will provide the perfect backdrop a little ‘me time’. In a range of multicoloured designs as well as some bold black and white options, our printed cushion covers can be bought separately making them incredibly easy to wrap and post! This bright London design is one of our most popular cushions. And if some quiet time doesn't sound quite enough, why not treat her to a slice of her favourite cake and a good brew? Our range of mugs will whisk her away and invite her to get lost in one of many vibrant cities. A coaster might be a welcomed gift too if she’s not a fan of watermarks – or already has one too many mugs! If she’s a collector of tea towels (we all know a few, right?!), look at our range of eye catching designs guaranteed to brighten up any kitchen. Our newest addition to the selection available online boldly displays the sights and landmarks of Newcastle. That’s our top three gifts for Mum! Don’t forget to take a look at our range of prints too, which include New York and Vegas skylines, and maybe even top your gift off with one of our cityscape gift cards for extra brownie points.
The perfect partner to your Valentine’s favourite drink? Our Newcastle Gin Glasses are now available online, joining our popular Manchester design. Just in time for a romantic tipple - we think they’re quite the pair! The balloon Gin Glasses are boldly decorated with highlights from both illustrations, meaning next time you enjoy a drink you can also take in the sights of these famous cities. To celebrate, we’ve been searching through the recipe books and have found this winning concoction for the big day...
Roseberry Gin Cocktail:Ingredients: 1/2 c. rose petals // 1/2 c. sugar // 1/2 c. water // 1 egg white // 1/2 c. fresh raspberries // 1oz . Gin Rose Syrup: Dissolve sugar in water, medium heat. Add raspberries and rose petals, simmer. Cool and strain-off syrup. Cocktail: Mix Rose Syrup with gin in a shaker. Add egg white, shake until slightly foamy. Pour into a Gin Glass and garnish with raspberry or serve simply with ice. Treat your next drink further by pairing your Gin Glass with one of our cityscape coasters - get one to match the same location or mix things up and pick from our range of designs. Our coasters are a great way to add splashes of colour to coffee tables as well as creating a real talking point amongst friends and family. As devoted fans of gin ourselves, we’ll be posting more cocktail recipes over the coming months. If you have one you think we should share, we’d love to see it - please get in touch!
Back in April I set off to begin research for a new piece. I was meant to be drawing Edinburgh but then I walked down Victoria Street and eventually found the correct street level that led to Diagon House. From the moment I walked into the store I felt like I'd been transported into the world of wizardry. This shop was full of little trinkets, potions, wands, hot air balloons, little aeroplanes, propellors and all sorts of creations from across the world. Two floors of little gems I could spend hours scouring through. As I wandered through archways and up and down the staircases discovering all the Harry Potter goodies I knew this was going to be the starting point for my Edinburgh range. Diagon House (established in 1823 as Museum Context - a name it has since reverted to): I was aware that J K Rowling had written much of Harry Potter in Edinburgh and I could see so much inspiration from this city in the books and films. My little tour of Edinburgh included potential venues / areas that could have been the basis for various parts of the books. After much research I know that a number of places have been connected to form the final images but Edinburgh and particularly Victoria street seemed to fit my vision of Diagon Alley perfectly. If you've been to Edinburgh you'll appreciate the staircases and multiple levels the streets are on. Edinburgh was always going to be the city I attempted to style into an Escher based piece and Harry Potter with it's hidden magical dimension fit the bill perfectly. I've based this drawing on MC Escher's lithograph print Relativity. This was a challenge from the very beginning as Escher is a technical master of perspective and I was moving from a series of one point perspective drawings to an isometric style piece. For my first attempt at such a complex perspective drawing I hope I've done it some justice. (If you're not familiar with MC Escher's work please do look it up). I began this drawing with a Penrose triangle and worked in the staircases at the different angles that I wanted them. This is a lot more complex than it looks! As all my initial drawings are in black and white it does really play havoc with the way you see things - one moment the angle looks correct - the next you take a step back and perspective's change again. Early stage sketch in pencil. On the right hand side you have the Diagon house building. THe first floor is cut off by a different perspective of the top half of the building, that leads into the top left hand side. If it all gets too confusing have a look at the final image annotated below. The final drawing with my annotations: The entire drawing is based on the inside of Diagon house, the front view and Victoria street. Based on the image above (final drawing)- the top left hand side of the drawing is the inside of the shop and Victoria street on the right hand side. The drawing changes perspective at the top of the stairs and introduces another plane. The stair case in the middle has a more of a floaty feel to it giving the impression that it is part of the wall that joins on to the fire place but also disappears once its visitor has left. Technical stuff: Paper used: Bristol Board 280gsm Pen: Kuretake Bimoji fude felt tip brush pen. Overview: I don't think Bristol board suits the wear and tear impacts of my drawing style but I'll definitely be using it for sketches. The Kuretake comes well reviewed and was my first attempt at using a brush pen. I usually use solid nib pens and have a single thickness in line throughout the piece. As a brush pens its pretty easy to handle and get used to. I struggled a little with the architectural elements probably because I'm used to applying more pressure but it definitely helps with more fluid work. To view the Harry Potter meets MC Escher range of products, click here.
I grew up in suburban Nairobi and I remember one of my first visits to London as a young child. We'd landed at Heathrow and my uncle, Ramesh, had kindly picked us up. On what felt like a really long way back to Finchley we began planning our trips to central London. "I'm taking you to Buckingham palace tomorrow, it's the Queen's house. Maybe, if she's free we can have some chai nasto (tea and snacks) with her and then take a boat trip along the river Thames." Part of this trip also entailed stopping off at Trafalgar Square to feed the hundreds of pigeons that would flock there, visiting Madame Tussauds where I could not believe how real the wax models looked (I did get to meet a version of the Queen after all.) That trip also included my first experience of a planetarium, sparking a life long fascination with the stars and space exploration. Many years later I moved to London to do my foundation course at Camberwell college and explored the city from a completely different perspective. I spent hours doodling away at the Horniman gallery, Natural History Museum and probably had my first attempt at drawing Dippy. I saw my first musical - The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, was completely blown away and briefly contemplated a career in theatre set design. I spent a lot of my days sneakily doodling commuters on the London underground, watching street artists perform in Convent Garden and the South Bank. If you're familiar with my work you'll know I like to fill my work with obscure little elements... London was proving to be a massive challenge and one I kept putting off. I have so many memories of London and I wanted to fit them all in! I had hundreds of suggestions from people about where to start and end the piece. I had to take a slightly more scientific approach to this drawing. I drew the ten tallest skyscrapers that were based within zones 1 and 2, I don't think I've previously appreciated quite how tall the Shard is! A number of must have tourist venues from the London Dungeons to Tower Bridge and set a map size limit to work off. There is a plan to draw more of the surrounding zones over the next few years. I've had numerous requests for Brixton, The London Zoo, Camden and Hampstead... if would like to add any suggestions please add them to the comments below. I can also personalise the prints if you would like a particular venue or message added. I've provided an annotation below of my version of the London skyline. The annotation sheet is available with my London colouring in sheet. Discover our London collection.
The original Liverpool drawing is near enough A1 in size (59.4 x 84.1cm or 23.39 x 33.11 inches) and its drawn with a 0.1 nib Rotring Isograph pen (A super fine line nib and a fantastic Christmas present). The detail you can get on to a large sheet of paper with a 0.1 nib pen is phenomenal. I'd sent myself a time target of about 1 and a half to two months to complete this piece... 6 months later my aching hand refused to add another mark to the paper and I declared it complete. Composition and constraints... this is usually a battle at the start. I've developed a grid system as I try and keep everything roughly where it is geographically (from a set starting / view point). The Liverpool drawing is probably the most complex I've managed so far. My drawings are initially done in pencil before going over them in ink, every now and then I decide to sand paper a section off and change the dimensions. The paper I use really has to withstand my changing creative moods! For the Liverpool Skyline I've used a range from Derwent's smooth paper. Having researched paper types I'll be sticking to a hot press, acid free and archival range. I've used papers from Gf Smith and Windsor and Newton in the past and am still on the hunt for the perfect paper. Liverpool lovers provided me with quite an extensive list of venues, people, musicians and a gazillion items to add to this drawing. This one is as complex as it gets. The iconic venues include the 3 graces (I initially drew them in great detail in my sketch book first spending a few hours on each building). The Cunard management had kindly shown me around their building and I was really tempted to add some of the passport stamps of visitors / sailors that they had in store. I've tried to show the different areas in Liverpool, taking the Beetham towers in the commercial area to the more creative hub on the other side of the city centre as well as the beautiful sea front. A visit to the Liverpool museum showed how little I really knew of the Mersey beat music scene. In a city completely captured by the Beatles I wanted to find a way of bringing to light the other musical influences the city had. My whirlwind research trip of Liverpool ended with dinner on Wood Street at Mowgli's with my friend George. We've both got a healthy love for Indian street food and Mowgli's did not fail to hit the spot, and captured a place in my drawing. I've provided an annotation sheet below that goes through my influences and elements hidden away in this drawing. Enjoy! Discover the Liverpool range of products.
For this piece on Sheffield I wanted to bring together a number of elements including: Sheffield’s industrial past, the hills and all the green spaces, elements of the regeneration within the city, parts from the different quarters, the stunning architecture, extensive art and many talented artists, musicians, actors and athletes. Where possible I like to get the different parts of my drawings to interact with one another. For example, in the bottom right hand corner you have the rock climber crossing the ‘final hurdle’ to get to the Henderson’s relish bottle. Further along, I have an abstract Jessica Ennis jumping over a Def Leppard guitar and a snooker play (in front of the crucible) interacting with the ‘Rain’ sculptures designed by Colin Rose. These in turn become part of a mural by Phlegm, which is related to space and stars and a creature peering up through his telescope. There are plenty more stories and characters hidden in the piece for the viewer to find and enjoy. The layout of the buildings is roughly set out according to a map view from the Southern side of the city. Please see the annotated version of the drawing that highlights many aspects of the drawing and details my research. sheffield-annotations-finished
Designed for the Manchester Creative Studio, a school pioneering the way for young people to enter the creative and digital industries. This piece weaves together the industrial heritage of Ancoats with the more recent transformations of the area. Former mills have been urgently renovated to fit in with the trendiest bars and cafes in Manchester. The landscape in this part of town seems to be constantly changing and this snapshot covers Little Italy and hidden within are little stories... the ice cream vendor who bought his first cart in 1906, the unwavering support of the local residents to ensure that the Ancoats Dispensary was saved from demolition, A tree representing the Mustard tree charity dedicated to helping the homeless and the marginalised and more.
This piece is an emotional, cryptic collection of ideas, inspirations and experiences. The contrast of two completely different styles of artwork- watercolour blocks and fine art illustration- is synchronised with the diverse and accepting city it represents. The second of my Manchester series encompassing over a hundred aspects of Mancunian life- and that’s just the city centre! My passion for this city is rooted in its diversity, size and culture. Walking around the city centre you can see architecture in many styles, built through decades of trends, styles and industrial influence. These elements are combined with the humours of life in the North West, such as a lady holding an umbrella and large amounts of water throughout. To discover the Manchester range of gifts and homeware, click here.
This colourful, characterful illustration is a journey through Didsbury, and is one of my more elusive, cryptic city annotations. The piece includes many references to the tea & cafe culture of the urban village, and was created as an entry for the Didsbury Art Festival poster competition. The original inspiration and theme of the festival is ‘Inbetween Places’, discovered through this artwork as the portrayal of Didsbury as a magical place away from the whirlwind of Manchester. Many intricate details such as the interior fittings of shops & cafes are featured in this piece, blended with the more commonly recognised elements such as the Didsbury clock & park. DECIPHERING THE CRYPTIC PUZZLE
Meha Hindocha: ‘I’m hoping I’ve found the balance that people can relate to’ The contemporary artist talks about Manchester, school trips and Where’s Wally You’re currently working on urban cityscapes. How did it all start? I’ve always loved drawing architecture, always doodled when I’m travelling. It’s easy to whizz by places and not absorb them. I like to stop and spend time in each place and really observe them. I guess I’m really aware of my environment. Manchester is obviously a key city for you. Tell me about that. Since leaving Kenya in 1999, I’ve always moved around a lot and then settled in Manchester with my sales job. Art was a passion but it wasn’t my job. I finished an illustration course and started learning more art techniques. I spent a lot of my evenings painting quite ‘emotional’ art. What’s ‘emotional’ art? Are you still working like that now? There’s no control with ‘emotional’ art. It’s more therapeutic. The Manchester piece is controlled throughout. It’s planned. I spent so long planning, doodling and then it all came together. I used to be very insular. This year I’ve asked for lots more suggestions about my art. I’ve asked loads of questions and realised I didn’t really know the city that well. How did you find that process? Everyone has opinions about everything! It involves people more in the art. It’s almost like it’s not mine and that everyone has a claim to it. It’s good that other people have a say and that it’s not self involved like some art can be. It’s a learning process that continues after the art has finished. I’m still talking about Manchester now! Learning about the history of Marx and communism at the Salisbury was really cool. The way Manchester has dealt with change throughout history is fascinating. It seems that you have a wide range of influences and you’re actively seeking them out. Have you always been like that? When I was younger, Salvador Dali was it. And Jackson Pollock I suppose you can see in the backgrounds. And Rothko. Not so long ago, I was in South America and I found this artist called Oswaldo Guayasamin. He did these paintings of figures with massive hands. There are a few drawings of hands in the Manchester piece. There are so many other influences now… Street art is everywhere too. It’s endless. Going back even further, do you remember being similar as a child? I remember school trips that we went on. It was always nature and I’d do drawings of trees and plants. We had to draw from real life, it was really strict. I still do that now. And now you’re here, your first exhibition. Why now? I think I’ve found the balance… I’m hoping I’ve found the balance that people can relate to. Cities are easy for people to ‘get’. Abstract art can be difficult sometimes. I like putting all the little bits in and incorporating all the research and all the conversations I’ve had. I feel like I’ve never seen Manchester before. It’s all the things I see alongside other people’s suggestions. And when people see it they’re like “Ah! I’ve never noticed that!” You know, how observant are we? It’s a bit cryptic too. How do you expect people to react to your most recent images then? It’s almost like your teasing them! It is a little bit of teasing people. It’s a little bit like a Where’s Wally image with all the little bits to spot. It’s fun. Most people say it’s very unique. I hear ‘clever’ a lot too!
Meha Hindocha at The Perk, Didsbury, The venue for her exhibition 20/43 ‘Urban Life: Urban Art’.