Guest Blog: Firestorm

I’d like to introduce my first guest blog Firestorm, written by the very talented artist and creative blogger Lee of Elevatedby. Lee is one of the amazing people I have blogged about recently, who inspire me to achieve on a daily basis and I’m delighted he has agreed to share a little insight into how he feels to be working as a creative in his element.


This may seem a little off topic, but please do bear with me as the metaphor unfolds.  Lets set our minds back to 29th and 30th December 1940.  On these two nights from 6:00pm till the early hours of the morning over 24,000 high explosive bombs and 100,000 incendiary bombs were dropped on our Capital City of London.  More than 160 civilians died during those two nights, and many more died later due to injuries sustained. Buildings were completely destroyed including 19 churches, 31 Guild halls and all of Paternoster Row (which was the centre of London’s publishing trade).

Many of you will have seen this photograph:

London after the blitz

It was a positive image of the survival of London and it was beamed all around the world.  The cathedral became a symbol of London’s defiance and determination to carry on, but what many people don’t know is that this image is a crop of the original, which shows, fallen buildings and a severely broken Capital City.

I’m sure I speak, not only for myself here, but also many others who spend their lives overcoming adversities presented by their disabilities.  I like to think of myself as the St Paul’s Cathedral in that photograph standing firm in the firestorm defiant and determined to carry on despite the challenges that my disabilities presents me with.

As I said, many people do not know about the ‘original’ version of the photo. It is one which shows the destruction, fallen buildings and devastation London sustained during the firestorm created by German invasion which looks a little something like this . . .

London after the blitz

Tough huh?  If you give me just a couple of minutes of your time, I shall reveal some of the stuff that I tend to ‘crop out’ of the image which I project to the public and the reason behind the name ‘elevatedby’ which I have chosen to give to my website dedicated to my creations.

Most of my immediate family have at some stage worked in the Forces. Grandpa was in the Parachute Regiment in Word War Two landing in Normandy on D-day. Mum was in the WRAF where she became a Dental Nurse and Dad was an aircraft engineer for the RAF and worked many aircraft, and spent most of his years after I came about on the SAR Sea King Helicopters at RAF Finningley in Doncaster. As for me? Due to my disabilities, I kinda missed the boat to go working in the Military, however I wasn’t going to let my disabilities get away with that lightly!

I have been invited as a guest blogger on and I am here to share with you  something deep within my makeup that not only gives me the drive and motivation to reach for the stars, but something that has provided me with a shield and protection against the adversities enabling me to walk through firestorms, yet miraculously walking out out of the other end untouched by its destructive force (AKA Self doubt and demoralization) That something is my desire to be creative!

I can’t ever recall ‘becoming‘ creative, that, I think is something that was built into my make-up the day I was conceived, but I can recall many times where I have been ‘elevated by’ my creative side.

Perhaps one the first instance, I can recall been ‘elevated by’ my creative side was when my friends would play soccer after school. Due to my balance and being uneasy on my legs, football was a game I’d choose not to join in with, but I’d still go out and join them, not with a football, instead I’d carry a note-pad and handful of pencils. Once my friends saw me, then It didn’t take them long to drop their football in favour of one of my pencils, asking me ask me to teach them how to draw helicopters or WWII bombers flying over Big Ben, with search lights coming from the Westminster bridge.

Another of many situations that I have found myself ‘elevated by’ my creations and creative desires was during the integration period into mainstream school from a special school for children with physical ‘disadvantages’ (as it was called in those days).  This was a very difficult period, it was my first taste of how downright cruel other children could be and it was the period of time when I learnt many lessons of life that could never have been learnt whilst being moth balled at a special school.

It was during this period of time when I learnt pretty quickly how to snub out and disarm what often felt like high explosives and incendiary bombs of verbal abuse and torment, and it was through my creations that would find an escape to what was going on around me drifting off with my imagination and drawing on whatever it was I had in front of me and then, I discovered a new and more powerful side to my creations!

One time during a French Lesson, I was spotted drawing a Ferrari F40 in my exercise book (which contained more sketches and drawings than it did French) by someone who dished out much grief. Word about my drawings seemed to spread around the school like wildfire and almost instantly after, it felt like all of a sudden I was the new favourite person to be around. Once again I was ‘elevated by’ my artwork, standing firm in the firestorm!

Lee | | Elevatedby on Facebook 

Thanks for sharing Lee!

If, like me, you enjoyed that and feel inspired check out the fabulous imagery on his website and sign up to his blog and Facebook page from the links above!

Lee will be back again soon to share the story behind just some of his fabulous artistic creations! Subscribe to my blog posts to be sure you don’t miss it!

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What is Art – L.S.Lowry? Happy 125th Birthday

“I am not an artist. I am a man who paints.”

So said the man who produced around 1,000 paintings and over 8,000 drawing during his lifetime. L.S.Lowry (Laurence Stephen in case you were wondering) has long been known for his industrial pictures of Manchester, where he was born and grew up, and specifically the matchstick people who inhabit them.

I have never really been a great fan of his work, possibly because of my own preference for realism or the extreme opposite surrealism. Lowry always struck me as just a little dull at the side of the vivid and imaginative works of so many other artists, such as Dali for example.

Then again, perhaps I was simply put off by the association of his art with the 1978 hit single “Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs” by Brian and Michael. Now, there was a song that seemed to spend an interminable amount of time in the Charts way back then, though strangely the reality is it actually only spent 3 weeks at no.1! Thank goodness they were a one hit wonder!

With the approach of his 125th birthday I thought it would be interesting to revisit my apparent negativity/disinterest. Among the pictures I could track down on line l was taken with this rather strange picture “Gentleman looking at Something (1960). I say “strange” because there is something quite unusual about a picture where the primary source of interest doesn’t appear in the picture…I want to know and can therefore only imagine what the “something” was. Perhaps he was watching an approaching tram, given that he is stood between it’s lines?

Reading a little further I am reminded by the Winsor and Newton site that Lowry used a very limited colour palette throughout all his paintings:

  • Ivory Black
  • Vermilion
  • Prussian Blue 
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Flake White

As I start to look more closely at the range of colour he achieves in his paintings I realise just how complicated things have become these days, with a vast array of colour tubes to select from, and very little idea about how some of them have been created! The subtlety and depth of colour achieved with this limited palette really is quite tremendous.

So, I can’t say I feel more excited by the art, but I am persuaded that there is something solid about the approach and something I might learn from that. Indeed, I already have thoughts in mind about painting next with a smaller range of colour on my palette.

In the meantime though – I’ll accept it’s art, think about arranging a trip to the Lowry in Salford, and wish Mr Lowry a happy 125th birthday with a small homage: “Lady looking at Something else.” I will leave you to determine what that something is…..

What is Art – Charles Mengin?

What better than a nice day out with old chums (chums of old, rather than aged, though saying that…) and an invitation to meet at Manchester Art Gallery.

Wrapped up warm (I’m off to Manchester after all) I opted for the relaxation of a gentle journey through the beautiful Hope Valley on the Transpennine Express. Points failure, train delays and a lost Manchester cabbie later I enjoyed a delightful lunch (and a bit of a giggle)   in the Manchester Art Gallery Restaurant. The day was already looking like a great a success and then came the art!

The scale of some of the works at Manchester’s city centre Gallery is amazing and the scenes depicted quite breathtaking. It’s always lovely to see a Turner close up and to marvel at the wondrous work of of his peers and predecessors. I am much less impressed by the “Art” of the paper cut artist 20,000 “feathers” hand cut from ordnance survey maps feels much more like OCD than art to me, but each to their own. My preference is for the realism of some of the works that facilitate a real connection – that usually means the figurative images with the  most realistic eyes and/or facial expressions. That and an interesting “back story” tend to hook me every time.

Painting of Sappho by Charles Mengin (1877)

Among my favourites today this painting  by Charles Mengin of Sappho, considered to be one of the one of the nine lyric poets of ancient Greece.

The image has a haunting, mystical quality that mirrors what little is known of the life and death of Sappho. Rumours abound about her sexuality and much of her work was destroyed, either deliberately or otherwise.

It has also been suggested that she committed suicide by leaping from the Leucadian cliffs for the love of Phaon, a mythological ferryman.