We are delighted to announce the appointment of the illustrator Willem Hampson and the writer ILYA to form the creative team for the comic book we are publishing as part of A Poetic City.

A poetic city frame rough (artist assesment 2) - Willem Hampson

Mel Kelly, Research Director and Project Manager for Bristol Cultural Development Partnership, was a member of the assessment panel. She says:

This was an unusual commission for us as, although we’ve had extensive experience of producing comics and other publications, for the first time we were endeavouring to form a creative team from scratch. We had an excellent response to the call for applications for both roles, and all those who applied offered something of interest. The recruitment process was also unusual as, because of the escalating situation with the coronavirus, we had to conduct interviews with the shortlisted candidates by Skype rather than in person. Following discussion, we were unanimous in our decision to appoint Willem and ILYA, and look forward to working with them over the coming months.

A poetic city cover rough (artist assessment 1 annotated) - Willem Hampson

Willem Hampson has been a freelance illustrator since graduating from UWE Bristol in 2017. In 2016 he won the competition for illustration students to design a poster for the Angela Carter exhibition that formed part of the Bristol800 programme. A recent commission has been to illustrate the original construction of a fifteenth-century merchant vessel on behalf of Friends of the Newport Ship. In his Poetic City application he wrote:

From a visual perspective this is a project I am very eager to undertake; the architecture, fashion and surroundings of a different period in history are incredibly exciting subjects for me to draw and historical illustration is an avenue that I am very eager to pursue.

The illustrations on this page are from the assessment assignments Willem submitted for the Poetic City commission. You can see more of his work on his website and on Instagram.

ILYA (pen name of Ed Hillyer) is also a former art student from UWE’s Bower Ashton campus, graduating in 1986. He has been a professional comic-strip writer, artist and editor since 1987. His many clients have included Marvel and DC comics, the British Council, the British Museum, Lonely Planet, the Guardian and the Health Education Authority. An ongoing commission is the creation of a four-page biographical strip in every other issue of the New Internationalist magazine. In his application ILYA wrote:

I’ve long been interested in comics, and poetry, and comics as poetry (or vice versa) – since both deal in rhythm and meter. …the more I read about Thomas Chatterton the more I find myself personally identifying with his struggle (how to make a career and a living from art, while preserving at least some sense of one’s own agency). … If I can make Thomas Chatterton (as well as his many associates) come alive again – as human beings the reader can empathise and identify with, and come to care about, then Job Done.

You can see an example of one of ILYA’s New Internationalist strips here. And you can read a copy of his comic Time Traveller: Robert Paul and the Invention of Cinema here (written in collaboration with Paul expert Ian Christie).

The Poetic City comic will be published at the end of the summer to be given away at Chatterton-themed events at the Royal West of England Academy, local libraries and museums, and visitor attractions across the city. It will also be available for the use of partners of the Poetic City programme including Glenside Hospital Museum, St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol Poetry Institute and Lyra – Bristol Poetry Festival. A downloadable version will be available for those unable to obtain a printed copy.

We are grateful to the support of National Lottery Heritage Fund for making this commission and the wider Poetic City programme possible.


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