Welcome to LifeInTheHive

Welcome to LifeInTheHive

…our new blog to provide insight to the inner workings, inspirations and individual stories that make up The Hive. To launch this first entry of #LifeinTheHive we decided to interview local artist Hannah Chumbley.  

The Hive has commissioned Hannah to illustrate the front cover for our summer brochure. She is a freelance illustrator living in Shropshire, and you may be more aware of her work than you realise. Sitting between The Lion Hotel and Snooty Fox on Wyle Cop is a beautifully painted BT Box by Hannah showing a fox out for a stroll in the countryside, oblivious to the lion watching from behind the bushes.

A photo of Hannah’s painted BT box in Shrewsbury town centre, featuring a fox being watched by a lion in a nature setting

Hannah’s box is one of eleven BT Boxes painted by other local artists commissioned by Shrewsbury BID to transform ‘hidden objects’ in the town centre into a colourful piece of art with the theme of animals. We at The Hive, knew that her style would complement our energy and ethos. We are fascinated with the whimsical characters she often depicts alongside elements of nature and celebration. We cannot wait to see what the front cover will look like!  

Hi Hannah, welcome to The Hive. Have you been here before?

Hello, thank you for having me! Yes, I’ve been to a few Tuesday Life Drawing in the performance studio and I am looking forward to visiting the Gallery soon and I will obviously want to pick myself up a copy of the Summer 2022 brochure!

How did you approach the brochure theme of ‘A Street Party for Everyone’? 

For this theme I wanted to capture the sense of community celebration. I started by looking at photographs of past Hive Street parties, street celebrations in general, as well as summer festivals. These images are filled with people coming together and enjoying themselves as a community and I thought that it was important to create an illustration which portrayed this spirit. I wanted it to look like Belmont is brimming with activities and people having a huge amount of fun as part of The Hive’s Street Party.

I was told a story about a very cheeky ice cream snatching squirrel that I just had to include too! See if you can spot him.   

What was the most challenging aspect of this style of illustration? 

I found designing such a busy illustration with lots of characters quite a challenge. I wanted the design to be filled with energy and fun but also make sure that the environment was recognisable as Shrewsbury.

Do you follow a strict process when you create your illustrations or is it more organic?  

I normally start in my sketchbook with thumbnail pencil sketches to work out compositions and elements I’d like to include within an illustration. I find it very helpful to note down all initial thoughts, small drawn ideas and research to get me started.  From there I develop one or two ideas into revised line drawings, tweaking until I’m happy. I always start my final illustrations as an ink drawing with a dip pen – I love the line quality it creates, and I’ve never been able to recreate it with anything else.

A sketch showing Hannah’s initial ideas and concept for The Hive brochure front cover illustration

My more organic illustrations stay firmly in my sketchbooks where I don’t feel any pressure and just have fun creating – some work and some really don’t but that doesn’t matter. Trying to be more experimental in my approach to illustration is something that I am currently working on!

We noticed you like to include a lot of nature in your illustrations, why is that? 

I love being outside exploring our wonderful countryside and I’m a very keen gardener, so that’s naturally where I’m drawn to when creating my illustrations. I find hedgerows great for unusual natural forms which usual make their way into an illustration.

Where else can someone find your illustrations?

If you’re in Shrewsbury, then there is normally a window in town with my drawings on. Currently the wonderful Shrewsbury Coffeehouse have kite flyers zooming across their windows by me. Online you can follow me on Instagram @hannah.chumbley or see more of my work at hannahchumbley.co.uk.

If you would like to see Hannah’s final illustration, click here to view our brochure. Or alternatively, you have grab yourself a copy at The Hive!

We are open Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm. Our Street party is taking place out 5 Belmont on Saturday 18th June. Want more regular updates from The Hive about all our events and activities? Sign-up to our newsletter here.