Harry Potter illustrator reveals surprise locations ahead of London exhibition

By Culture24 Reporter | 22 April 2014

The Harry Potter illustrator who linked London with Scotland is part of a three-day exhibition in Chelsea

A photo of a colour illustration of a lion
Clare Melinsky illustrated the Harry Potter novels for Bloomsbury© Courtesy Spring Fling
There are 22 artists and sculptors from Dumfries and Galloway looking to sprinkle some Scottish stardust on a corner of Chelsea later this month. One of them, illustrator Clare Melinsky, is more familiar with wizardry than most.

An image of an illustration for the front of a childrens poetry book showing a lion
Melinsky also created all the illustrations for Poems to Perform, by former Children's Laureate and Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson© Courtesy Spring Fling
A bold artist known for chunky and colourful lino cuts, Melinsky made covers for all seven Harry Potter novels in a Bloomsbury-commissioned, JK Rowling-approved flurry in 2010.

“I had to cover up what was on my desk so even my friends didn’t know what I was working on,” she says, discussing the secrecy which proved the hardest part of the project.

“There were many times when I sat up reading the text deep into the night so I could get the illustrations just right.

“And sometimes I went out in search of places that would give me inspiration.”

Once the covers were out, Melinsky swiftly won new-found admiration from her nephews and nieces, inspired by a local landmark.

“Many people assume that the picture of platform 9¾ in on the back cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is from Kings Cross.

“In fact it’s not – it’s the railway station at Dumfries.

“And the gravestones on The Deathly Hallows are also from reality. I based them on the old graveyard at Morton in Dumfries and Galloway.”

An artist with 30 years’ experience to call upon, Melinsky has also created covers for all 39 of Shakespeare’s plays for Penguin Books and designed special issue stamps for the Royal Mail. She’s in good company in this showcase, joined by artists including Patricia Cain - the winner of the Threadneedle and Aspect Prize in 2010 - and new talents.

“Names like Patricia will be familiar to many, but what a lot of people don’t realise is how much creativity is concentrated in Dumfries and Galloway,” says organiser Leah Black.

“This exhibition is about changing that, and letting people across the UK know that this beautiful region of Scotland has so much to offer to anyone with an interest in art.”

Spring Fling, the popular annual event in the region, will feature 95 Scottish artists in a series of open studios from May 24-26.

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