Q&A with Elmer Artist Lois Cordelia

Art trail veteran Lois Cordelia talks to us about her eighth Wild in Art sculpture and her personal connection to Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk.

Self-confessed Wild in Art addict Lois Cordelia shares her inspiration and how she’s honoured the memory of fellow artist Valerie Osment in her latest Elmer design.

How did you get into art and design?

Art and design have been my passion for as long as I can remember, though I took formal art education only as far as A-level. As a child, I spent most of my time drawing, both at home and at school and every other child said to me: “You’re going to be an artist when you grow up”.

My A-level Art teacher Mr Emery was a great inspiration, and I owe it to him that I began painting. I’m especially fortunate also to have worked part-time as an artist assistant in the studio of children’s author-illustrator Jan Pienkowski (born 1936, co-author of the Meg and Mog series). To work side by side with an established artist is a great privilege.

I surprised everyone by studying Arabic at university. The rhythmic cascading beauty of Arabic calligraphy remains a major influence in my artwork to this day.

Since graduating in 2006, I exhibited widely all over the country, but in recent years I have focussed on creating art live in public, making art more accessible by engaging with audiences of all ages through teaching, performing live “speed-painting” demonstrations and designing for public art trails.

How did you get involved with Wild in Art?

It all began with a golden Pig. I remember seeing the call to artists for our first Ipswich trail Pigs Gone Wild and thinking that pigs would sooner fly… But I submitted my design Pig-geswyk anyway. Why the hell not. Lo and behold, a few months later, it had been shortlisted, and a few weeks after that, it had found a sponsor. Pigs really do fly. In many ways, it was the boost that my career needed, and I’ve been a Wild in Art addict ever since. Through Pigs Gone Wild, I also met and became friends with fellow Ipswich artist Anne-Marie Byrne (Swinions) – she and I have coaxed each other on to submit designs for more and more trails all over the country. Between us, we have a collective menagerie of pigs, bears, elephants, nutcrackers, bookbenches, lions, giraffes, robins, owls, ducks, bees, and counting… I owe a lot to her!

What’s the inspiration for your Elmer design ‘Imagination Can Take You Anywhere’?

Inspired by my love of all things fairytale, this design is loosely based on several of my paper cuts, originally cut out of paper using a surgical scalpel. Whether you open the pages of a book, or drift through daydreams, your imagination can take you anywhere. I don’t know about you but I dream in vivid colours, hence the silhouettes are set against a rainbow, as if around a lantern. Elmer teaches us to be ourselves and not let anyone dull our true colours. Among many other details, I included a hedgehog in memory of fellow artist Valerie Osment, whose much beloved Hedgepig was part of Pigs Gone Wild 2016, and who would have loved to be a part of Elmer’s Big Art Parades 2019.

‘Imagination Can Take You Anywhere’ by Lois Cordelia.

‘Imagination Can Take You Anywhere’ by Lois Cordelia.

Where is your Elmer now?

I haven’t seen my Elmer for a while, though I gather he’s been enjoying his VIP travels all over the country and meeting lots of people and other Elmers in the course of his travels. It’ll be a happy reunion to see him on the Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk trail next year. Meanwhile, I’m excited to have been commissioned to paint another Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk but shhh it’s top secret!

Elmer's Big Art Parades 2019

Elmer's Big Art Parades 2019