Monday, 14 November 2011



It annoys me when people only care about endangered species if they’re cute and fluffy. For example, no one cares about Aye-Ayes because they kind of look like they’ll pull your brain out through your nose with their freaky elongated digits.

Sharks are particularly prone to this unfair judgement. They don’t have fur, many have a constant look of sheer rage on their faces, and they have the unfair discrimination of having every toothy encounter with a person, however big or small, published on news outlets worldwide, giving us the impression that sharks will soon be wriggling up our drainpipes as we wash the dishes.

The other day I came across an article entitled ‘Killer Sharks Infest Golf Course”. Freshwater sharks had been swept into a golf course lake by floods, and were now living there and even breeding happily. Golfers liked their presence, taking scraps of meat to feed them, saying they’d become quite tame and were peaceful to watch. So, what exactly makes them ‘killer’ sharks if they haven’t killed anyone? Because that particular species had been known to attack people? Why then don’t we attach ‘killer’ to all other human-attacking species, such as tigers, or pandas, or elephants... Or dogs, horses, cows, pigs, whales, dolphins, bears, hippos, lizards, birds etc?
Even though the article turned out to be harmless, the title made me very angry as it was clearly just an attention-grabbing selection of words playing on the “Jaws” idea people continue to cling to. Arrrgh!)


Love sharks! They love you for breakfast!
And love all fugly animals! They can't help their fugliness.


Since this is meant to be an art blog, I suppose it would be right and proper for me to post some artwork.

A little comic I created in memory of the wonderful framed set of Victorian photographs showing the process of a magician's magic trick - a fully fledged rose bush growing out of an empty vase. It was at an auction house I attended with my dad. While he pored lovingly over old paintings of badly-proportioned horses, I can across the Victorian magic photographs and fell to my knees and cried over how I could never ever have them as they had been priced a few hundred pounds out of my range. SO I MADE MY OWN.

Eli Lewis and his Cacophony of Cat O' Wauls. Characters from a little set of stories of mine about an odd little circus, called Papavero Circus. Words cannot describe how stupid these stories are. Genuinely. I can't imagine any parent ever letting their children read these stories unless they cared little for their mental well-being.
In fact, that might make an interesting new direction of advertising:

"Is your child too clever? Do you observe your child doing their advanced algebra homework and feel inferior? Is that special school for gifted children that your gifted child so desperately wants to go to too expensive? Then, fear no more. The book I'm about to reveal to you is guaranteed to scrub your child's superior brain of all thoughts on String Theory or nuclear fission like a road-maintenance man scrubbing badger intestines off of the pavement!"

More will eventually follow on this particular thread.

A simple creepy street scene. Went for a slightly wonky angle, and added a demon thingy - these little critters pop up a lot on my work. You'll get used to it.

Well, I think that's enough to be getting on with. Just a little taster of the kind of things I do. 
This blog will be updated whenever I feel I have a piece of artwork I feel compelled to share.

A Sad Day

As I said in my first post, I've decided to transfer a couple of posts from my previous blog to this shiny new blog just so there is something interesting to look at between now and the time I next post up new drawings or writings.

This post was from about a month ago, when I discovered that my old school was closing down. People really liked this post, so I'm putting it here.


T’is a sad Day.
I am breaking briefly away from my habit of posting stupid doodles of cartoon animals to inform you all of some rather upsetting news.
My old school, that I attended for 9 years, is closing because of a lack of funds after 80 years.
It was a small school of about 200 students; all girls except for some boys up to the age of 7, situated in a small village surrounded by fields.

A former workhouse, Amberfield was a real, classic English school, with strict rules on uniform - tartan skirts had to be the right length just above the knees, no jumpers were to be worn under blazers, even in the icy depths of mid-winter. Hairbands had to comply with the colours of the uniform (red, blue, green or black), and absolutely, positively NO. MAKE-UP.

Manners were an enormous part of daily life. Few students dared question the authority of the teachers, fewer still lived to tell the tale. The ultimate punishment was a trip to the Headmistress’s office, where students would stand and face judgement under the accusing gaze of the toy wombat on the sofa by the window.

I was part of the choir (which was pretty bloody good) that often participated in local musical events. The Christmas Carol Service was always the highlight of the year, walking up the aisle singing and carrying candles that dripped hot wax all over our hands, hoping to God the hairspray-smothered hair of the girl in front wouldn’t ignite in the close proximity of so many open flames.

Once a year we sat in dire boredom as some guest speaker rambled on as part of the riveting spectacle that was Founders’ Day, an occasion that took place in the Great Hall where we would gather every morning to sing hymns and say the Lord’s Prayer, being careful to pronounce the “let us pray” as clearly as we could for fear of being rebuked by the drama teacher for saying, “lettuce spray”.

Amberfield sported a rather impressive science building, and had what must have been one of the country’s best biology rooms, painted in the style of a fluorescent green rainforest, with bugs, snakes and birds adorning every inch of the walls (though, it was eventually repainted a Fail-tastic shade of pale green - so that we might focus harder on our studies than on the colourful surroundings. Or something.)

Sports Day was another highlight of the calender... If you were sporty, that is. If you weren’t sporty, however, it was a hellish maze of embarrassment and boredom, barely managing to even finish the 200 yard race and accidentally lobbing shot-puts into the watching crowd. I was always particularly good at the high-jump, though my confidence in my abilities was tainted one Sports Day when I landed spine-first onto the bar which failed to fall down with me as it was supposed to, thus leaving me with a nice bar-shaped bruise along the small of my back.

Hockey and netball were the school’s two main sports, and, after years of running around, lobbing the ball with all my might to get it as far away from my personal space as possible before all the good, aggressive players came charging at me like bulls, expecting me to defend myself, I never even came close to learning the rules or what each player was meant to do.

The school had a close relationship with the local residents of the village, giving out gifts collected by students to the elderly every Christmas. And any student who travelled by bus to and from the school would remember the old gentleman who sat outside his house on the other side of the road and waited for our buses to pass so that he could wave happily - and of course, we never failed to return the favour, shouting “It’s Old Man! Wave to Old Man!”.

(A photo of me crawling through the undergrowth of the 'Forbidden Path' that ran round the side of the school. No more good little girl. I'm rebelling, beeches. Photo taken by my lovely friend Julia Bagert.)

I met some of my absolute bestest-friends-for-everest at Amberfield school, and, six years after leaving, I still like to recall all the strange and silly things we got up to. I remember vividly the smell of the biology, physics and chemistry rooms, and the smell of the art room. I remember standing in the downstairs section of the textiles room, painting the same piece of cloth over and over again as slowly and meticulously as I could to stave off the stage where I have to go upstairs and sit at the sewing-machine by the textiles teacher’s desk, feeling her hawkish eyes boring into the back of my skull, watching my every move, waiting for me to accidentally thread the machine with tacking thread, or forget to put the presser-foot down so that she could explode in a disproportionate rage at my insolence.

The day we all left and parted ways was a sad day indeed, not to mention terrifying. We were breaking away from the sweet little bubble of innocence that was Amberfield school and searching for our places in the world, worrying about university applications, swearing and blinding at the UCAS website, getting jobs. Amberfield equipped us well for all of this. I thank it most graciously for its efforts in giving me such a well-rounded education.

I leave you, Amberfield, with one complaint. I’ve always been an artist. I always knew I would draw pictures for a living. I told you. I told you I would never need algebra. I told you that I would go out of my way to avoid any career involving algebra at all costs. But, still, you insisted on shoving it in my face. To little effect. Your endeavours failed miserably. I’ve forgotten it all. Ha!

(This lovely photo was taken by Julia. And unfortunately that gorgeous german shepherd is hers, not mine. I'm the one in the middle, pondering how I can get the dog into my car without Julia knowing.)

Shiny New Blog with a Bird on it!

Hello all,

My name is Sophie, and this is my blog. I had another blog on a different blogging site, but I decided it was time for a change, and so back in June or July I registered this blog... and then 4 months later here I am actually beginning the switchover to Blogger. Fascinating stuff I know.
Anyway, this blog is primarily an art blog. I am an illustrator and as such I am prone to drawing things. And those drawing things may well end up posted here for all to laugh at. I will sometimes break up the artworks with writing and other such things that take my fancy, so that'll be something you can look forward to laughing at, too!

I suppose I should explain the relevance of 'Paper Magpie' as a title for a blog. The reasons are threefold:

1. I am a total paper magpie. I love books. I love paper. I simply cannot throw away paper. No matter how crumpled or torn or covered in paint, pencil or muddy boot prints it is I always have this nagging feeling that it will one day be of vital, life-saving importance. And so I must hoard it.

2. The term 'Paper Magpie' vaguely refers to a little project of mine that is no where near completion (and it may be that it never will). Hopefully, though. Hopefully, it will be ready to show sometime in the near future. Exciting stuff, eh?

3. I love magpies. They are such beautiful birds - and so underrated, I think. They have the most beautiful iridescent feathers! And, they're exceptionally intelligent, one of only a handful of creatures on this planet that can recognise themselves in a mirror. They also hold 'funerals' for dead family members. I just luff them.

So, yes! Now you know me, somewhat.
I hope you enjoy what nonsense spills forth from these pages. I shall post shortly a few articles from my previous blog just to have something interesting to read before my next 'new new' post.