I went to Bristolcon yesterday. Their sixth, my fifth and also my most enjoyable so far. I was one of the exhibitors in the Art Show, organised brilliantly (as it is every year) by Andy Bigwood. I decided to show some of my 2000AD work from the last couple of years, collaborations with Si Spurrier and Rob Williams.
I had a great day. My space was right next to the Art Show’s Guest of Honour, Julian Quaye. Julian’s work was new to me but I loved it, and from my neighbouring vantage point I could see a lot of convention-goers really appreciating it too.
I drew Julian being interviewed. The interviewer highlighted the skilful depiction of fabric and textures in his work, something I think contributes wonderfully to the internal reality of this surreal, eerie series.
It’s easy to make grand claims about your local convention, one which can be enjoyed without the hassles of travel and accommodation, but I can honestly say Bristolcon is one of my favourites. It’s certainly the nicest. ‘Nice’ may be a much maligned word, but Bristolcon is the friendliest, most relaxed, manageable event I’ve exhibited at. A lot of that comes from the hard work behind the scenes. It’s clear that the team work their socks off for the whole year to make that one day so good, but however tired they must be when the doors open they are always absolutely lovely company.
The crucial difference for me this year was that I participated in the art show in the way it was intended, as an exhibition. In the past I had approached it in ‘comic convention mode’, sitting behind a table of Things I’m Selling, but this time I left my work in the very capable hands of Claire Hutt and her team staffing the Art Room desk and explored the rest of the convention. By doing this, people had an unobstructed view of my work while I was able to catch up with other artists and attend some of the many panels and readings that were running all day. Jennie Gyllblad was there (with her splendid factotum Peter), and I was able to pre-order her new book SKAL Volume one. The original watercolour art Jennie was showing yesterday was absolutely delicious and I didn’t want to miss out.
I was also very glad to meet Jenny Haines (You don’t have to be an artist called Jen to be there, but it helps). Jenny’s ‘Games In Art’ series immediately caught my eye and I was fascinated to hear about the painstaking research which goes into these images. There will soon be a new addition to the series, one based on Assyrian art, which I cannot wait to see.
The panels I sat in on ranged from practical advice on Discoverability & Representation in the time of Amazon to a rather gleeful discussion of the perils of writing sex and death scenes. All good stuff, but I got the most out of the Common Writing Problems Q&A (which will come as no surprise to followers of my ORT progress blog!) I found Snorri Kristjánsson particularly wise and inspirational on the subject of writer’s block.
Other highlights included a lunchtime invasion by these two terrifying aliens, knitted Death Stars, and even free cake and wine. Not sure how the day could have been improved, thank you to Jo, Chris, Andy, Claire, Meg, Cheryl and everyone else who made it so much fun.