Exeter’s Illustrators are Drawn Together, Guest post by Liz Finnie

Our contributor Liz Finnie has been visiting the RAMM and meeting Exeter’s brilliant illustrators.

Illustrations bring life and imagination to a story: therefore Exeter should be proud to possess a hub of talented illustrators. Paul Cherrill and Clare Elsom originally met at The Generator co-work space before evolving the Exeter Illustrator’s initiative to encompass a growing number of members. Aside from winning prestigious awards, collaborating with the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and generally doing what they do best (making beautiful artwork), Exeter’s illustrators have taken it upon themselves to put an ‘illustration stamp’ on their home city; and I was super excited to receive an invitation to their Private View evening at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM).

With much excitement and a deserved sense of pride in the air (from both the illustrators and the lucky attendees), I made the most of the complimentary wine and jelly beans whilst listening to local singer/songwriter Sadie Horler before viewing all that was on offer. Within the RAMM café, each of the 13 illustrators has displayed a selection of one-off, unique and highly captivating artworks. A sneak peak of some of my favourite aspects are shown, but if you want to see the whole picture you will have to visit for yourselves (it’s on for 3 months). All the artworks, which were printed by Ashley House Printing Company and framed by Devon Picture Frameworks, are available to buy; and I’m sure each illustrator would be happy to take commissions.

I was instantly drawn to Victoria Byron’s underwater seal encounter and can imagine both my girls being portrayed in a similar piece (hint hint hubby!). 


Adrian Stone’s futuristic and eye-catching hydrothermal vent is mesmerising, and his other pieces have a slight Manga/science fiction feel to them.


Paul Cherrill’s bright and bold treasure chest scene and sneaky aardvark certainly made me smile and chuckle.

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Whilst Kevin Payne’s bold and fun funky fish, cute clouds, wizards, and unicorns would please any child (and parent!).


Although less colourful, but by no means less appealing, Sam Boughton’s fishing town and stormy seas are the types of image you could stare at for hours: the detail is so enchanting.


Clare Elsom takes you on an adventure with crazy guinea pigs and dreamy mermaids: I want to be this mermaid!


Tom Mclaughlin’s calm seascape, clever play on words and planet-walking will captivate both young and old (and everything in between).


Gareth Conway’s humorous and cheeky Kracken, seagulls and crocodile oppose Tom Sutcliffe’s monstrous yet beautiful wolf and less-cheeky Kracken.

With a more retro feel from Xander Lee, I was excited to find Bert, Ernie and Big Bird taking me down memory lane.


James Loram’s bold, cute and colourful whales and crabs do not disappoint (what has the Whale eaten!); nor do Charlie Alder’s book-engaging childhood dens, owl and pussy cat.

Finally, you simply cannot miss the large fish mural on the arch wall designed by James Grover.


Having seen all the artwork, I was left thinking how I would love a piece from each illustrator (in my dreams!) – then I came across the show-stopper (for me): a piece called ‘Buildings of Exeter’ – thirteen of Exeter’s iconic buildings drawn by each of the 13 illustrators. Although I’m now the very proud owner of the only signed copy, there are another 99 to purchase, and you can be certain that this beautiful image will be seen about the city in a number of creative ways.

15 BUILDINGSFinally, if buying a piece of art is not in your budget, there are signed (and unsigned) copies of the illustrators books in the new RAMM shop that are well-worth a purchase (and the shop is well-worth a visit).

For more information on the Exhibition or for contact details of any of the illustrators, please email: exeterillustrators@gmail.com

Photographs of the illustrators, dog, kracken, wolf, and owl/pussy cat were taken by Simon Hammett.

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