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Can you spot the Reindeer?

We were delighted that Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year, Ophelia Redpath, is one of two talented designers to create Christmas card artwork for us this year.

We caught up with Ophelia to discuss the inspiration for her Christmas card and hear a little more about her life and work….

What was the inspiration behind your card, Reindeer?

I wanted to create something imaginative for children hence the reindeer passing the window which is a little mysterious although the young boy is so absorbed in reading his book, he doesn’t see it!

I love illustrations that use patterns like cross hatching which, although take ages to do, look fantastic in a design.

Where will you be spending Christmas this year?

I’ll be spending Christmas this year at my new home with hopefully 1-2 other families so there will be lots to do over the next two months!

What has winning the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year award meant to you?

It’s been a busy year since I won the Sky Arts award. It meant such a huge amount to me to win. In the midst of lockdown, the finalists were taken to an unknown destination which turned out to be the Hackney West reservoir near the Olympic Park and we had to set up our easels and interpret the view whilst being filmed by Sky! I found the whole experience really inspirational. Winning the award has been fantastic and I’ve been so busy ever since! It’s enabled me to take some time out from my day-to-day commissions to think about what I really want to paint. I’m inspired to create slightly surreal paintings which consider our place in the natural world.

Ophelia with a copy of The Lemur's Tale, a children's picture book which she illustrated, and which was nominated for a Kate Greenaway medal.

Why are illustrations so important in children's books?

I think illustrations are key to first books. We start off as people without words and we see things very visually when we are small so of course illustrations are very strong for children. It helps them to imagine the story and gives them the skills to learn. I find it fascinating that in adulthood we are often either words or picture people. I have one friend who just can’t think without words but, for me, it’s visual identity that is so important. How can you make sense of the world without pictures?!

What book do you remember reading as a child?

I remember Harquin the Fox by John Bunningham. Harquin was told by his fox family never to go down to the valley or the gamekeeper would shoot him. One day, of course, he did! Luckily, he managed to outwit both the gamekeeper and the Hunt. As you would imagine, It was the beautiful illustrations of the book which bought the story alive to me!


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