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Memory Palace: Meet Artist Ailish Sullivan

by Cass Art
Memory Palace: Meet Artist Ailish Sullivan

We asked our very own in-store artists 'If you could only keep one memory, what would it be?', inspired by Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace at the V&A. Each artist chose to preserve their memory in a medium.

Ailish Sullivan works at within our Customer Care team for the new online shop and has previously been working at our Kensington store. Ailish chose sketching to preserve memories from her childhood. We asked the keen illustrator what inspired her.

Tell us about your two memories...

‘Running through the forest’ was inspired by a book by my great aunt, Kathleen Sullivan. Her book ‘The Vespera’ is full of very strong imagery. Shameece is the central character and goes on an adventure to find a stranger who has cast a dangerous presence over the world. The main character goes off into the forest and then a cave to retreat as she grows and changes.

The ‘Scary Wolves’ illustration is from the moment in Little Red Riding Hood when the wolf finally reveals himself. This embodies the memory of my fear of wolves when I was younger. I grew up in Acton, Boston and felt like I was closer to the wilderness and that made the threat of wolves and bears seem much more real.


Why did you choose to represent your memories through sketching?

You can learn a lot from looking at a picture in a short amount of time. With everything so fast paced in the city of London I miss the time to pause.  Illustrating is a quick way of interpreting a feeling or a view that hopefully can be translated as soon as someone looks at it. It is getting harder to ask someone to stop to read a text or a nursery rhyme and communicating that through a visual picture comes easier.

Scary Wolves

For both I used the Pentel Brush Pen and the pigment liner pen by Staedtler. The Pentel Brush pen is my favourite tool and I use it regularly. The brush tip offers a huge range of control that I really enjoy utilising. The varying line adds a lot of life to an image and I take it in my bag as it is great at adding a lot of expression to a life sketch. Pentel is a Japanese company and perfectly complements sumi-e style ink work as well. This is definitely an artist’s tool and used by many comic artists to ink their illustrations, as well as being used by many fine artists.

The pigment liners are a staple. They are really reliable fibre tip pens with a consistent line so you can clearly and crisply define an image. They are really lightweight too so they are easy to carry around with you.

What else have you been working on recently?

I have recently been using scientific themes as inspiration for my illustrations and playing with scale. I have also been introducing colour to my sketches using the Pentel Aqua Brush which is very easy to use on the go with watercolours. I currently exhibit in London through art collectives and galleries throughout the year. I hope to keep illustrating and creating artwork, sharing my ideas and views.

Tell us about life at the Kensington High Street store...

I have really enjoyed my time here for the past year. You get asked a huge variety of questions and help customers find the right material for their project. It is enjoyable to be surrounded by people that love art and talk about something your passionate about. There are a huge variety of people that come in, from novices to fine artists and I am constantly learning from them.

You can read all of our staff interviews from the Memory Palace project on our Interviews page. Become a fan of Ailish's work on Facebook, or visit her website to see more of her work.