Cornish-Folklore

We chat to illustrator Elin Manon

Ancient ruins, fair maidens and kingdoms lost beneath the sea are all themes that have featured in Elin Manon’s colourful artwork.

An illustrator and recent graduate of Falmouth University, Elin’s work is inspired by the social history and natural landscape of Celtic regions, such as Wales and her adopted home of Cornwall. Her work has graced the pages of story books and illustrated a myriad of folkloric tales…

I was always a creative child, who loved to draw and paint the world around me. 

I remember getting very excited about my drawings as a child; eager to show my parents what I had created from my imagination Like many creative people, I studied art all the way through school, but I quickly noticed that it was viewed as a ‘soft subject’ or a ‘throwaway class’. This meant that I was never really given the opportunity to explore what options were available to me if I wanted to pursue an artistic career.

Initially I was going to study Art History at Exeter University. 

But toward the end of sixth form I was encouraged by my family to defer my degree and take a Foundation Diploma
in Art. It was where my passion really lay and it was important not to close those creative doors. It still scares me to think what my life could have turned out like if I’d gone down that more ‘traditional’ route.

I love storytelling! 

Not just committing words to a page, but literally taking an idea or a concept and telling stories through my art. My love of folklore has always hummed around in the background. I remember in primary school in Wales we learned about The Mabinogion, which is a set of Welsh myths and legends. These stories appear in 14th Century manuscripts but the tales themselves are much older. This colourful cultural heritage has always informed my work.

Wales and Cornwall both feel like home to me now.

They share wild landscapes and a cultural heritage. As a native Welsh speaker, I instantly noticed similarities between Kernowek and Welsh place names and signs. Both places have a real social history around storytelling. For instance, I’m fascinated by stone circles and the stories that surround them. One of my favourite Cornish legends has to be The Merry Maidens Stone Circle in Penzance. Legend says that a group of maidens were turned to stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday.

One of the best things about living in Falmouth is being so close to nature. 

As an illustrator I draw a lot of inspiration from the land, and I like to borrow colour palettes and textures from the natural world. I might take photographs or bring my little sketchbook with me to document my strolls. I also like to take little pieces of fern or coastal vegetation and sketch from those. It’s funny, I even dream about walks now and find myself waking up feeling inspired.

Studying at Falmouth University means you can work with amazing tutors. 

I had a tutor in my second year, Rose Forshall, who does some really lovely work for big brands like Anthropologie. It’s a great place to do a degree because you’re always surrounded by creative people.

I love the work of Alfred Wallis

It’s strange because I tend to be drawn to rich colour palettes and earthy tones, whereas his work is much more muted. But I’m drawn to the naive genre of art and I think his work bridges the gap between traditional art and contemporary illustration.

There is so much to Cornwall that I’m yet to discover!

It’s amazing how diverse the Cornish landscape is. Here in Falmouth everything is lush and green, compared to the north coast and The Lizard, which are both wild and atmospheric. I don’t have a car, so I rely on public transport or the kindness of friends. Luckily, we’re all keen walkers so we regularly head out and explore together!

Find more from Elin at www.elin-manon.com or @elin_manon_illustration. Or buy one of her limited-edition Harbour prints over on our shop.