Around the world with a pop-up artist

Local artist Stephen Waterhouse with his exhibition at Dean Clough, Halifax.
Local artist Stephen Waterhouse with his exhibition at Dean Clough, Halifax.

Artist and illustrator Stephen Waterhouse flunked geography at school - so when he was asked to help produce a pop-up world atlas he felt he was making up for lost time.

Stephen, who lives and works in Hartshead, produced the illustrations for ‘My Pop-Up World Atlas’, written by Anita Ganeri. An exhibition of his illustrations for the book - as well as his striking and colourful pictures of cities, landscapes and characters - is at Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax until September 15.

Now 36, Stephen was born in Birkenshaw and educated at Hipperholme Grammar School. From a young age his passion was for drawing and painting.

“I loved drawing buildings and for a time I thought about becoming an architect - until I discovered it involved doing maths,” said Stephen.

“As a young child I loved the books of Roald Dahl, particularly ‘The Enormous Crocodile’ and ‘James and the Giant Peach’. Seeing all the detail, energy and humour in Quentin Blake’s illustrations made me want to draw even more.”

Stephen took a one year art and design foundation course at Huddersfield College before studying illustration for three years at Loughborough University. He still teaches part-time at the university as well as creating artwork for children’s books, posters, jigsaws, greeting cards and magazines.

But working on the atlas was a particular pleasure for him. “As someone who failed geography at school, I had to do a lot of research and some very detailed drawing, which I loved. It ended up with me discovering every continent and country in a unique way. I hope that children looking at the book will see the world in a new way.”

The exhibition at Dean Clough reflects Stephen’s journey over the past 15 years from student to children’s book illustrator. He has written and illustrated four children’s books, published by Bloomsbury, and is commissioned every Christmas to do the artwork for Divine chocolate’s advent calendar.

His next book for Templar Publishing will be a Pop-Up Cities Atlas, due out in September, which contains stunning cityscapes of skyscrapers, towers, bridges and cathedrals.

“This is my first solo exhibition in Yorkshire and I’m really pleased to be showing my work close to home,” said Stephen. who will be signing his book at Dean Clough this Saturday from 11am to 2pm, all welcome.