Impressions is based in the west of
England. We specialise in
designing spooky images for greeting cards and prints.
have been produced from a love of the supernatural and the thrill it
Christmas the artist was inspired to send a very different sort of
the idea of producing a range of ghostly cards. "I
grew up with
ghosts – I don’t mean I lived in a haunted house
but rather I was surrounded by stories. My parents were from
different backgrounds, one Mediterranean the other eastern european,
and the mix of tales about ghosts, werewolves,
worse) was captivating.
I have drawn
these things, and designing these spooky scenes has given me a great
pleasure. I hope you find them ... unsettling"
of the designs have
a story or
history behind them. Read on to discover more.
A twilight scene in a
cemetery, grave stones and memorial statues. Then one figure
turns around and it's not made of stone at all. The
a composite of several locations but it most resembles Nunhead Cemetery
in south east London.
Statues such as the angel type figures that are encountered in
cemeteries can be disturbing - as recent British scifi on
television demonstrates. They probably fit into the same
psychological zone as portraits and dolls - anything that is a
representation of a living thing has the potential to become living in
the mind of the viewer. So horrific tales of pictures with
that follow you as you move around the room, dolls coming alive and
statues that move are common in the imaginative realm.
|Caught by the Fog
From out of the fog appears
mummy like figure. It reaches out to you.
Behind are ruins based on Llanthony Priory in the
Mountains in Wales. It's a compelling figure - is it the
in holes for eyes or the dessicated skin? It appeared almost
accident on the page and took on a life of its own. Stuff of
lonely figure on the landscape, the
scarecrow is sometimes endowed with mystery
and even horror. We are receptive to the idea of one coming
and it is a motif not uncommon in popular culture, from Doctor Who to
Worzel Gummage. Robert Westall wrote a rather spooky piece
'The Scarecrows' too.
people find this picture too menacing to be comfortable. When the curtains are drawn are you safe
are you enclosed and trapped?
my ghosts wear a traditional white sheet and are skeletal underneath.
The idea of the cloth covering comes from the burial shroud
which people were laid to rest before coffin burials became more common
and affordable in the Victorian period.
Dark Stair is
reminiscent of the famous photograph of the Brown
of Raynham Hall.
Originally this design was based upon experiences of
a ghostly presence which
seemed to hang around the top of the stairs in my family home.
wasn't until the house was sold and we reminisced about growing up
there that it came to light that all my family had the same
of the top few steps and a couple even claimed to have seen something.
of Nunhead is set in a real
cemetery in south east London. Consecrated in 1840,
it is one of the
cemeteries to the more famous
the main figure are
many of the elements which can normally be seen in Nunhead.
you would like to know more
Cemetery you can visit the Friends of Nunhead web site, see my Links
it just the waves
breaking or can you
see the dead rise within the foam? The
motif of creatures emerging from the
surf is well known but I
think it's a device that particularly lends itself to the supernatural
coastline could be reminiscent of
Cornwall or more likely West Wales where I lived for many years.
Cemetery is located
in South East London and is a fine example of a Victorian Cemetery.
It is a fantastic mixture of formal avenues and
monuments as well as small headstones scattered along overgrown winding
paths, covered in ivy and hidden by trees.
sculpture although sadly missing arms and head, lies on the ground
slowly grown over by ivy. Next to the ruins of the chapel
she adds to the impression of decay and times past.
out more about Nunhead Cemetery, visit the Friends
of Nunhead website.
of Cowley in Oxford lies a small church yard with some unusual
headstones. There are four in total and they probably date
the 18th century.
headstone appears to have
its own character and make fantastic if not slightly gloomy pictures.
the north of Canterbury in Kent is Blean
A wildlife haven partly owned and managed by the National
it is an ancient woodland that is important locally and nationally as a
was taken in the early autumn when the woods were full of fungi and
fallen chestnuts and the leaves were only just turning gold.
shafts of light penetrate to give an errie and magical scene, this
triad of trees appear more like figures looming above the scene,
and forests often
have strange stories and histories associated with them. The
a very closed in worlds where vision is limited and there are small
strange sounds. The muffled quiet is very disturbing if you
you are not alone - and I am not referring to the local
My father told an amazing and terrifying story of travelling
at night through the wild forests of Serbia in the snow. What
encountered there was reminiscent of a Denis Wheatley novel.
statue was happened
upon by chance from the road whilst walking through
the small village of Bushley Green, Worcestershire.
prehistoric monuments in the British Isles are aligned on the mid
winter sun. Often they are burial sites, suggesting a link between
the solstice and the dead.
and Maes Howe are burial mounds where the entrances were blocked but a
small space was deliberately left open to the sun above the entrance,
at Newgrange a special box was constructed just for this. The sun
passes this at sunset or sunrise (depending on the direction of the
monument) for almost 2 weeks either side of the shortest day. The
importance of the winter sun light, shining into the tomb long after
any possible living persons had gone, suggests a possible belief in the
return of the dead.
best known for its alignment to the mid summer sunrise, Stonehenge is
more likely deliberately aligned on the midwinter sunset. Seen
from the Heel Stone, the sun passes between the sarsens of the tallest
trilithon at the very centre of the site. A current theory about
the activity at Stonehenge and related monuments also suggests mid
winter as the more important event. The henge of nearby
Durrington Walls showed evidence of mid winter feasting by
the living, whilst Stonehenge
surrounded by a landscape burial mounds was a place of the dead.
Both show an alignment to the winter sun. The photographs
were taken in 2011.
from the ghost
stories of Charles Dickens
a ghost story and owed this
fascination for the supernatural to his nurse Mary Weller who terrified
him with many tales. I was struck when reading a collection of his
supernatural stories how many were in fact concerned with premonition
and portent (To Be Read at Dusk, The Signalman),
were sometimes concerned with vengence or seeing that justice is done
(The Trial for Murder).
doesn’t often describe his spectres
in any great detail or the scene at the moment of terror which makes
them harder to illustrate. I took two images from A Christmas
Carol - of some of the more frightening scenes. The very first ghostly
occurrence when Scrooge arrives home and his door knocker …
well, it is a creepy moment. The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come is the
most sinister figure in his Reaper type apparel - which is justified
when he reveals the inevitable future to Scrooge in the grave yard. The
other image is taken from The Signalman which is one of the best ghost
stories. I collected a few of the apparitions together with the author
- including the ghost from the ‘Queer Chair’ for
||The two remaining
spirits have been added so all three ghosts of Christmas are now
Images from the ghost
stories of MR James
James was an antiquarian (1862-1936) but is
known for his ghost stories, published from the start of the 20th
century. Many were written as entertainment at gatherings on Christmas
Eve. To be read aloud. There have been several
for television of his work - and these can still sometimes be
seen around Christmas. I have produced a set of 4
M. R. James theme.
is actually a portrait of
author shown at rest in his library with a few fiends, or is that
friends. It doesn't specifically relate to a particular tale
I thought the text from Ghost Stories I have tried to right seemed most
appropriate. The cupboard door was indeed opened by unearthly
new set of 7 images have been created in 2019 in order to produce a
calendar of M R James for the first time. The pictures will be
available as blank cards suitable for Christmas or any occasion or as
postcards. I have chosen stories which stimulated an imagining of some
of the scariest moments.
To the right is Count Magnus at the moment the sarcophagus, it's not
the most gruesome but when I realised that the 'faithful companion'
would be in there with the Count, I wasn't just going to get a
Dracula-type moment of the hand appearing in the opening but a rather
Lovecraft like scene as the tentacles of the companion help to push up
the lid. Lovecraft very much admired M R James, although unfortunately
James didn't reciprocate. Perhaps Lovecraft was even inspired in his
own creations by this creature.
Well (top right) is about a rather badly behaved boy whose contrary
spirit lead him into the path of the inhabitants of the wailing
well field 'rags and bones'. These are rather vampiric ghosts as
they drain the blood from their victim. They are not alone in James
canon of monsters. Below are some more. All capable of doing more than
just scaring the victim.
An episode of Cathedral History (bottom right) is another vampire story inspired from
a medieval record of a vampire attack near Hereford which James
translated. I have shown Hereford Cathedral here and imagine the
shrivelled corpse-like creature which had red eyes.
Left to right below: Canon Alberic, Stalls of Barchester Cathedral and The Uncommon Prayer Book.
Alberic was quite hard to precisely imagine, James says the monster is
hairy and thin but describes him like a bird eating spider in human
form. Yet the eyes are touched in with yellow. Other imaginings of this
this have appeared more or less scary, McBrides unfortunately looked
rather cute. I opted to use proximity to create an air of menace and
the large shadow cast by the hand.
In the Uncommon Prayer Book the victim is dispatched with a bite to the neck so I drew fangs on the skull.
Canon Haynes was haunted by vengeful phantoms to punish his bad deed, they didn't bite but dispatched he was.
Mezzotint is a story about a picture and the spectre that appears in
the picture. The events of many years previous are re-enacted in
Here the spectre is approaching the house, as he appears early on in
the tale. I turned his head very slightly as if he is aware of
the viewer, though this is my own interpretation of the scene.
the final scene of 'Oh
Whistle and I'll come to you' the spectre is described as having 'a
face of crumpled linen'.
has made for itself a body out of some
bedsheets and the blind phantom towards its victim.
This is a very different phantom to the earlier image I
created although it more closely resembles the form I first
imagined when I read the story.
and I'll come to you
James's most popular stories. The image is based on a
dream where the main character watches a scene unfold on a
a man is pursued by a figure in 'white fluttering draperies'.
In the book the figures appear on the sand but I set the
on the dunes as it allowed a better view of the groins and beach.
is supposed to be blind and
was quite a challenge to represent. In the end I opted to
the eye holes in the face sheet as stitched up.
is a fairly creepy
tale which has
little to do with rodents. My friend here is seen towards the
climax of the book, as the over curious guest in the lodging house gets
into the locked room to see what is really on the bed and gets a shock.
The scene is quite faithful to the book except for one small
He is quite a sinister looking character, quite enough to put you off
your Christmas dinner and in the book he is in chains. When I
attempted to show these the figure took on an unpleasant dimension,
it took the scene to an even darker place of suffering. In
the end I decided
he looked much happier without the chains.
A Warning to
is also one
of the better known stories and is based around the common Jamesian
theme of unrestrained curiosity or antiquarians reaching beyond their
limits. It is set in Seaburgh on the Suffolk coast, which is
based on a real place: Aldburgh. I have recently
visitor although I didn't notice any barrows there.
moonlit, after returning the crown to its resting place, something is
on the mound and one of the characters thinks
they have left a coat up there.
The image to the right is the new re-imagined version which will be released later in October 2019.
Ghosts of Christmas
the very first design created for
Christmas. It is
reminiscent of a room in my family house which retained an open fire
place and was lit on a few special occasions like Christmas. The
ghost is wearing the traditional burial shroud and clasps the chair
with his skeletal hand as he peers round from his hiding place.
His presence is only suggested by the fluttering curtain in
of the cards are based around the
Christmas tree. The reflected skeleton was suggested by a
friend who thought this a terrifying prospect.
Victorian style candles made a bit of a come
back in recent years - much to the dismay of the fire service.
The candle light would have been a very different experience
on a tree from a string of electric lights.
Ghostly faces have sometimes been depicted
in the flame of candles but the winding, flowing, random form of the
smoke from an extinguished candle gave me the inspiration to create
ghost standing amongst the grave stones
is based around some very scary photographs of specters who hide
their faces like this one. See the spectre of Newby church for a
The location shown on the left is
from the church yard at Abbotts Bromley in Staffordshire. As far as I
know this is not haunted.
other snowy scene shows the aftermath of someone receiving a fright in
the woods. The close environment is host to a wealth of
happenings, especially in the twilight. You cannot see for any distance
and sound travels strangely. Remember to stay on the path and you will
be safe! Or maybe not in this image.
My father recalled a terrible experience in the forests around Belgrade
back in the earlier part of the 20th Century. That time the snow was
thick on the ground and he lost the path. He had been warned to stay
clear of the forest but it was late and he wanted to get home.
What he encountered was much worse than a ghost. And too frightening
for a Christmas card so this phantom will have to do instead! (If you'd
like to know what happened to him - see my blog - don't go into the
||The lastest cards for
Christmas show on the left a scene in woodland, some one has been
collecting holly and mistletoe until something spooks him. Woodland as
the light fades can be scary places especially as here, faces appear in
the trees. Perhaps they don't want people helping themselves -
that's why I've subtitled it 'Druid's Beware'.
the right a traditional fireside scene, christmas tree and presents and
stocking hung up. At the window the snow clings to the pane, but
it looks like there will be more than Father Christmas coming to
visit this year.
||A ghost rising out of
the pages of the story that created it.
Twisted around the figure is part of its winding sheet, wailing
and writhing, the very words created its form as they swirl from the
The image on the right is reminiscent of the ghost in the church yard,
this time it is a dark figure moving through the snow. You appear
to have disturbed both it and the owl. As it looks towards you
its face is completely covered by a cloth, which suggests ... well, I
don't like to dwell.
||New for 2014, one
quiet and atmospheric, the other a creepy turn on a Christmas
tradition. But judging by the state of the building perhaps they
shouldn't have been tempted to knock.
If some aspect of the image on the left look familiar it may be because
it is based on Tintern Abbey. I don't know of any tradition of
cowled figures appearing there but I'd be interested to hear.