a story of creatures

Julie Arkell

Hello, I am back!! Have you missed me…maybe just a little?

I am sorry I haven’t posted for almost two weeks, but it has been a manic time with work. Lots of commissions to finish and deadlines for magazines to adhere to, but that’s all done and as you will see in this post, it hasn’t all been about work…oh no!

Last weekend I had the great pleasure meeting an artist who’s work I have long admired. Julie Arkell and her wonderful creatures have long been on my “I want to meet and make” list, and finally I was fortunate enough to land myself a place on one of Julie’s three day workshops, right here in my home town. Coinciding with her latest exhibition called ‘Away’ at Ruthin Craft Centre, Julie is also the Artist in Residence this month and is running a series of workshops in schools and at the centre.

I was one of thirteen keen and eager ladies ready and waiting last Friday morning to spend a weekend making our very own creatures.

Away Collage


Starting the day, Julie took as around the ‘Away’ exhibition, telling us about the stories behind some of the creatures on display. We were able to soak up the atmosphere and get plenty of inspiration for our own creatures.

Back in the workshop room we started making our very own creations under the guidance of Julie who was a fountain of ideas and encouragement, and freely shared many tips and tricks with us. Yes, there was cake too…made by one of the participants…delicious!


By the end of day one we had an assortment of creatures leaning on walls, clad in soggy newspaper, hoping to dry overnight.


Day two started with some of us (me included) realising that we had been a little over-indulgent with the wallpaper paste. Quite a few of the creatures were still pretty wet, but after quick assembly of some drying contraptions and putting heaters on at full blast, we soon freed the creatures from their soggy bottoms.

This second day was spent ripping up old books and with a thin layer of wallpaper paste smoothing them over our creatures. It was quite amazing how long that process took, probably not helped by us all reading in the books and trying to find suitable and meaningful passages to stick on.


That night the ‘Away’ creatures came alive in my dreams and joined the naked unfinished creatures in the workshop room. Waking up on day three I couldn’t stop thinking about what attire mine should wear.

There was a lot of laughter accompanied by frantic knitting, stitching, painting and gluing in the room during day three, and by the end we had a fabulously amazing selection of our creatures waiting for their moment in the limelight…

Last Day Collage

…meet “Little Loops” and “Little Dog”


They have moved into my studio to keep me company and feeling quite at home already.

Finished Collage

What an amazing and inspiring weekend it was. I had the best of times and meeting Julie was truly magical, something I will remember forever.