Hilary Roper-Newman

Hilary Roper-Newman is an artist, author and illustrator, who will be showcasing her game-related artwork and her books at this year’s Game Fair.

Trade News caught up with her to find out what got her started and what inspires her.

TGF: What got you started in painting / illustrating?

HRN: I have painted since a child and won competitions in both junior and senior schools for writing and illustrating books – one on trees and one on wildflowers. I still have a school painting I did of a mandolin.

I remember, aged six, painting an underwater scene with a massive octopus in it and the headmaster walking into the classroom and loving it but teaching me that an octopus had eight legs not six as oct in Latin meant eight! I loved learning.

I held three major art exhibitions in Lancashire in the early 1970s and all were reviewed by the national press, especially the Guardian. I studied at Lancaster College of Art and Design and Leeds University.

TGF: Which came first, writing the books or the illustrations?

HRN: In 1975 I knew I wanted badly to write and illustrate for children by producing books. I married and moved to Wales and could not teach.

I got a job as an elderly people’s warden of a housing scheme and my shifts were mainly in the early mornings and evenings and emergency call outs, so I had all day to write and paint, which is when I began my first book called Macfaddion’s Finest Hour. I also saved lives.

It took ten years and two babies to write and illustrate this particular book, done in Designer’s Gouache. I did not know how big to paint the pictures so I painted 14 illustrations, all 14ins x 21ins, highly detailed and in Designer’s Gouache. This set later was valued by Sotheby’s at well over £10k  for the set and this was in 1990 and published by Quay Publishing.

TGF: What inspired you?

HRN: The flat where I lived as a warden was on the banks of the River Elwy, in St Asaph. My husband was a keen fisherman so I arranged for them to put an outside bell on the flat so if anyone rang me I could hear the phone from outside. This enabled me to write and paint outside whilst he fished; hence Macfaddion is a water vole.

The Macfaddion story was based on the recession then and the fact that there were no jobs at all. So it starts off with Macfaddion, water vole and ferryman, sat in his barge counting out his bills and he is worried and wants to bring tourists to the local gala day which in turn will bring in more revenue and jobs. So Macfaddion decides to go hunting for a dragon monster to bring to the gala day.

This book has more than go species of wildlife in it. Since then, the copyright has fallen back into my hands so I have, alongside my graphic designer, modernised it and hope to get a second version out in the autumn.

Prince Charles recommended this particular set to go on exhibition with the National Trust, which it did for 10years at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire.

We moved to Lancashire during this phase through my husband’s promotion as a civil servant and then into Yorkshire.

I then went back into teaching Art and English up to ‘A’ Level but in my spare time produced two more books and under my publishing name, www.pattersandpress.com and had them printed in this country.

These were: ‘Sashka the Snow Princess and All the Creatures of the Frozen North’ and ‘Surtsey the Cat.’

I then wrote 1,300 modernised Grim Fairy tales for Buttercup Publishers.   I am also about to publish another children’s book called ‘Little Christmas Reindeer.’

I started painting in oil in large paintings on canvas and selling them, including at the Lux gallery Birmingham.

I base my work and thinking always on chaos and chaotic patterning. Colour lifts the endorphins, pattern follows flow, and might spiral, swing or break into geometric pieces such as fractal. I also love nature.

I was a child that climbed trees, fished for newts and swam in becks so my affiliation with my natural surroundings was always a part of me. I knew every bird and every flower. My parents and grandparents, after the war, which they had all served in, grew fruit and veg in the garden and I would sink in amongst such growth and pinch raspberries or peas in abundance.

There were no televisions, no phones, no computers, no cars, no fitted carpets and no fried freezers. We walked to school a mile each way and ate hawthorn buds, we climbed trees and the villages were not lit at night so we saw the stars.”

I paint daily in my studio and love both that and designing and I’m hoping to do a town mural next year.

TGF: What can visitors to your stand at The Game Fair expect to see?

HRN: You can expect some striking and unique pil, paintings reflecting landscape, salmon leaping the falls, trees, mountains, wildlife and nature.

I’ll also be selling and signing my children’s books alongside limited editions.

TGF: How important is The Game Fair to you?

HRN: The Game Fair is very important to me as this is one of my main selling areas as people love the countryside and this is what I delve into with my work.

Join Over 100,000 Fellow Attendees & Visitors

Sign up to our Newsletter today.