Say Hello to Ellie Sandall!

As a local artist and founder member of PHACE I’d like to introduce myself to other creatives in the area! My name’s Ellie Sandall and I’m a children’s book author and illustrator based in Deeping St. James.  I was born in Peterborough and have lived in the Deepings my whole life (save a four year stint at University in Bath). Growing up, I was not really aware of any particular arts scene in Peterborough, and it’s so exciting that there are just so many arts projects now on the go in the local area. I’m looking forward to becoming more involved in local events through PHACE!

I loved art from a very young age. My mum is very creative and my siblings and I would spend hours around the kitchen table, working on one craft project or another. I did GCSE and A Level art at The Deepings School, before going on to complete a foundation course in Art and Design at Isle College, Wisbech. I completed a degree in graphic design at Bath Spa University, focusing on illustration in my second and third years. I really enjoyed the sequential illustration element of our projects- the storytelling aspect appealed to me, having enjoyed creative writing at school. This led me to specialise further, and I went on to gain a master’s degree in children’s book illustration from Cambridge School of Art. I absolutely loved it there - the course was fab and it was brilliant being surrounded by people who loved picture books just as much as I did! I graduated in 2007, and was offered a two book deal by Egmont for my first books, Birdsong and Daisy Plays Hide-and-Seek. It was amazing seeing a book I’d written and illustrated in a bookshop for the first time, and I was lucky enough to be nominated for several awards for emerging authors and illustrators. Birdsong was even featured on CBeebies Lunchtime Stories! I’ve just submitted the artwork for my sixth picture book, a sequel to my fifth, ‘Everybunny Dance!’, which will be published by Hodder Children’s Books in December.

Alongside my illustration work, I enjoy teaching art to children. For five years I worked part time as the artist in residence at two primary schools in Peterborough, where I taught art across the age range from reception up to year six. I love how creative children can be, particularly the very young ones. With young artists the focus is largely on their enjoyment of the process rather than the end result, and it’s lovely to be able to give them the opportunity to experiment and investigate new media. Often, if left to their own devices the final piece will be a muddy brown splodge- the enjoyment of the process is very much evident though! Each summer we would have an art exhibition, where every child in the school would have a piece of work on display. I think it’s so important for children to be able to see their work displayed and appreciated by others.

Recently I took the plunge and went completely freelance, setting up my own art school, Art Stars, in Deeping St. James - it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years now and it’s really exciting! We offer term time art tuition, holiday workshops and Arts Award courses for primary aged children. I’m a firm advocate of Arts Award, having delivered it successfully to over two hundred children during my time working in schools, and I’m looking forward to being able to offer other children in Greater Peterborough the opportunity to be recognised for their creativity.

Our term-time after school classes launched last week - we work with small class sizes and it was a lovely, relaxed atmosphere in the studio. It was certainly rather different from my days teaching whole classes in school, which could get pretty chaotic! We also held several workshops in the last week of the summer holidays, and are planning more for October half term- if there’s anyone out there who might be interested in running a workshop for us, please do get in touch! It would be great to be able to offer a wide range of arts activities. Having close links to PHACE will be really beneficial - it will be great to be able to point the young artists I work with in the direction of further opportunities!

You can see some of my illustration work on my Facebook page-, and more information about Art Stars on our website and Facebook page