On Saturday I managed to catch the final day of the Harris Open Exhibition, the Harris Museum and Art Gallery’s annual celebration of local creative talent, and I am so glad I did. I spotted the beautiful illustrations of artist Wensdi Dougherty. Playful, yet elegant, her intricate illustrations depict flower adorned Oriental ladies with long graceful necks and delicate features. I had to find out more about this Preston based artist.
How long have you been illustrating?
I have drawn, doodled, designed and created pretty much all my life. It’s what I enjoy doing, sometimes it’s not because I enjoy it, but I have to do it because the things in my head demand to exist, otherwise I’d go crazy. But in all seriousness, I’ve been illustrating professionally for about two years, I went to University to study illustration but it’s only recently I’ve actively pursued the career.
Where are you based?
I am based in wonderfulerifus land of Prestonia.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I really like being silly and playful, and I wonder about silly things and what they would look like if I drew them. I tend towards the beautiful and elegant rather than silliness used in an immature way. For example when I made the Orchid Girls I was playing with the idea of long necks on women and big hair, while a silly looking thing initially, once I developed the idea the necks and hair were complimented by the elegance of the illustrative style.
I also draw inspiration from people and one of my favourite things to do involves going into Preston city centre to sit and watch people. Looking at what are they wearing, what are they doing? I often make up my own stories between people interacting and come up with ridiculous scenarios which often inspire the characters in my work.
I saw that you designed a Peep Board for Preston Guild, how did that come about and have you had any other commissions?
There was a job advertisement on the ArtsCouncil website requiring artists to create peep boards to be used for display around the events areas for Preston Guild. The commissioners really liked the ‘futuristic’ feel of some of my works and thought it would translate well into the idea of a vision of the future.
I went with how technology would be used more for fashion than any real life benefits. Where people would have super strength but the cyborg arms would be able to be customized and we would make ourselves ridiculously long legs with bizarre shoes as we wouldn’t need feet to put them in so there’s never an issue of function over form.
I have received commissions for smaller pieces for personal use and although I have not received anymore commissions on this scale, I am available for more.
What struck me coming to the Open Exhibition at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery was that there are a lot of artists and creative people living and working in and around Preston, yet we never hear about them. What do you think, if anything, could be done to support artists in Preston?
It was brilliant being able to see how much talent there is in the Preston area. It does seem quite quiet on the creative front in Preston but there are a couple of organisations and groups that have started creating events and opportunities for the arts. Perhaps more advertising and marketing could be done to make both artists and the public aware of events taking place within Preston.
What was the response from the Open Exhibition?
Personally, the response I have received has been brilliant! I’ve been told by the show organisers that there was a lot of interest in my work and both pieces sold. It’s certainly a boost to hear that people have enjoyed your work and its ignited a motivation within myself and fuelled me to keep going.
Have you shown your work elsewhere?
This is my first exhibition outside of my University Degree show.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to display in more exhibitions with the intent of having my own show sometime in the near future. I have a marvelous exhibit I’m currently working on in which I exaggerate the female form, sometimes beyond the natural shape of human form and play around creating fabulously silly patterns and visions. I would love the opportunity to share it with the public.