Andy Mayers: artist

The moment community groups discover they have a graphic designer in their midst a collective cheer must go around, as it will ensure their promotional material suddenly becomes much more professional.

Because of that, a lot of people might hide their light under a bushel, but not Belper artist Andy Mayers.

He is not one to shout about everything he does for others, but he admits he does enjoy being able to make a difference by helping out behind the scenes.

For this year’s Belper Arts Festival Andy is not only assisting with the branding and official programme – as he has done for a few years – but he is also creating the set for the Belper Players’ production of Hamp – a First World War story set in a barn and a court room.

On top of that he will also be one of the artists taking part in the mammoth Art Trail with his fascinating digital paintings and portraits.

He is also the man behind a new sculpture being planned for the town’s Memorial Gardens in memory of The Belper Fourteen, who died on July 1 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme. It was the greatest loss of Belper life in a single day, in the town’s entire recorded history.

The sculpture, which depicts Jim Green, a Lance Corporal, in the Sherwood Foresters, was first commissioned by the Arts Festival last year as part of a performance tribute to the soldiers. The impact it had on audiences then has resulted in the campaign to have it erected as a permanent memorial.

“We have to raise about £20,000 to have the sculpture created for the town, and a group I am involved with, Belper In Wartime, has launched an appeal to crowdsource the cash.”

If you would like to help go to http://belperinwartime.org/sacrifice.html

“The original was built in wood and foam board but we want to build the permanent version in Cor-ten steel,” explained Andy.

“I am also trying to think of a way I can raise awareness of the appeal at Hamp during the festival,” he added.

Andy has always been passionate about drawing and studied for a foundation in art in Manchester, where he was brought up, and then a graphic design degree at Leeds.

After eight years in London gaining experience as a designer working on corporate material he decided to go it alone and moved to Derbyshire with his wife and children and Belper was lucky to be the town he chose to make his home.

“I joined the Belper Art Group so I could take up my love for drawing again and it was the members there that gave me the incentive to produce more work and try different things,” he said.

“I have been using Adobe Photoshop for many years as a designer and I have started painting digital landscapes using the software.

“When people first hear me say that they are digital paintings they can turn away but when I explain that I am painting in the same way just using a digital brush they become more interested and then want me to explain it to them,” he said.

Andy has created a speeded up animation showing how he creates the brushes, colours and layers which he will have on at the festival.

“They can see what is involved in what I do. If you just look at the print you can’t tell how they have been created.”

For more details about Andy’s work go to http://www.andymayers.peakartist.co.uk

This year’s Belper Arts Trail, from April 30-May 2, will involve 133 artists in 55 venues spread all over the town.

Returning artists and makers include Stephen Coates, Ruth Gray, Mark Langley, Stable Glass, Gill Rippingale, Susan Bedford, Peter Wigley, Natasha Braithwaite and Lynn Hazel.

Among the newcomers are Keith Wright, Justine Nettleton, Sarah Miles, Frances Daunt, Sarah Parkin, David Appleby,  Why Not Wood, Clare Fisher and Parkwood Pottery.

Plus coming back into the fold after a break are Colin Halliday, Karen Williams, Kerri Pratt and Dianna Lee.

The town will also be buzzing with a full programme of music, street theatre in Word On The Street and pop-up poetry in Writing On The Wall, as well as food stalls and entertainment for children.

For full details go to http://www.belperartsfestival.org