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Tails: from the Land, from the Sea

Jill Newton

05 June - 11 June 2024

Jill Newton's paintings explore the secret twilight world of mysterious creatures. She exposes their nocturnal antics of which sleeping humans are blissfully unaware. In a basement bar, a zebra picks out a wistful tune on the piano. From her dark corner a donkey listens nursing her last negroni. A rhino, almost desperate for attention, struts across the floor with his fabulous fascinator. In the woods Pegasus mounts his bicycle. He has moonlighting tasks to complete before dawn. As do the white horses of the sea, setting sail under the ink black sky.

Born in Newcastle, Jill moved to Lincoln at an early age where she spent her time keeping an account on everyday life. When she wasn’t scribbling, she could be found on the ground after falling off pushbikes and ponies.

After completing a foundation at Lincoln College of Art, Jill went to Cambridge to study illustration, focusing on her love of children’s books. Continuing her journey south, Jill settled in London where she embarked on her career as an illustrator, working in the fields of publishing, advertising and editorial. She has worked on many wide and varied projects, from editorial pieces for the Financial Times to designing soft toys for Jelly Cat.

But Jill's passion is for children’s books and Jill has made a career illustrating over one-hundred and fifty books, as well as have over twenty of her own stories published worldwide. One of her most successful books was recently adapted for musical performance. In 2019 a fully orchestrated concert of Crash Bang Donkey was held in the beautiful Art Deco Theatre in Sheboygan, by lake Michigan, Wisconsin. It was a fabulous experience in the most magical (and coldest) place Jill has ever been. The same story has now been adapted for performance by the West Somerset Brass Band who are taking the noisy donkey on tour to France this summer. (Yes, there will be soft toys.)

Jill now lives in a small seaside town in West Somerset with her husband, Cosmo and their dog, Garry. The nearby woods, hills, and valleys where they run, explore, and watch nature unfold are a daily inspiration. Jill takes her inspiration from the forests where she and Gary explore, the sea where they roam by the shoreline along with her love of mythology and folk tales. Her studio is up in the attic. An attic full of books, paints, brushes, things to stick, things to print and generally things to experiment out new ideas and create new tales to tell.

Creative workshops for both children and those with early-stage dementia is another area in which Jill enjoys working. Starting with simple shapes she encourages the class to draw and develop their own unique story characters. Jill has also exhibited in London, New York, Cambridge, and Lincoln.

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