Artist profile - Kelly Marie Waddington

The Wild Shepherdess tends to her flock

The Wild Shepherdess tends to her flock - Credit: Archant

Our Gallery subject this month is 33 year-old illustrator and designer Kelly Marie Waddington from Halifax

Kelly hangs out a printed cushion

Kelly hangs out a printed cushion - Credit: Archant

‘I am really proud to live and work in this beautiful place,’ writes Kelly. ‘I couldn’t stand to live in the city; I think I would find myself sowing grass seed in the carpets! I do love woodlands and trees and my favourite walk is through what has always been known as the ‘deer park’. I just love stags, wise and proud, with a magical beauty of their own. Equally I love the journey to my mum’s house, which is across the wild moors, full of stunning purple heather and brimming with wildlife.

‘My inspiration comes from the books, animals and the countryside I love so much. My earliest memory is of riding my uncle’s pigs aged about three years. I have always been mad about horses and spent many hours at the stables. My granddad was born on a farm and he always kept lots of hens, rabbits and racing pigeons. I have many hens and ducks of my own and the name of my business Sugarhen is inspired by my beloved Bluebell, a pretty little blue hen.

‘I have always wanted to work for myself and had dreams of building my own house from a young age, probably stemming from walks down stony lanes and boggy fields in search of derelict houses that my parents wanted to bring back to life. I was always drawing plans of farms, full of horses, hens and sheep.

‘It wasn’t until some years ago when I was made redundant and went back to college where I studied art and design that I finally started to bring all my hopes and dreams together. I began making life-size, intricate wire sculptures of animals and started to draw my book character illustrations, but knew at that time they weren’t good enough to publish.

The Wild Shepherdess collection inspired by a love of the countryside

The Wild Shepherdess collection inspired by a love of the countryside - Credit: Archant

‘Eventually I came up with the idea of Sugarhen, and taught myself to sew and screen print, and started to put my illustrations onto linen cushions, t-shirts, bags and mugs. I have always loved painting; my book illustrations tend to be watercolours but I produce the Wild Shepherdess paintings in acrylic on canvas.

‘My Wild Shepherdess paintings are inspired by a painting my mum got me for Christmas, a snowy night scene with a shepherd walking back with his dog and I decided I wanted to do a couple of paintings for myself but with a shepherdess in them, to go with it. The whimsical and dreamy style fits my love of illustration; so many farming pictures are full of men, but there are many women who love and work in the country too, so this is one for the girls out there!

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‘I hope to grow my business with a shepherd’s hut to work in, overlooking my own fields of hens and sheep.’

Find out more about Kelly Waddington at