Cambridgeshire artist Alison Hullyer inspired by the outdoors
Alison Hullyer is an award-winning Milton-based freelance artist, illustrator and printmaker.
Born and raised in the city, Alison Hullyer, a regular participant in Cambridge Open Studios, uses various techniques in her work, including pen and ink, oils and watercolours.
Alison, who attended Chesterton School, Hills Road Sixth Form College and CCAT, is a graduate of Northumbria University, where she obtained a degree in graphic design – specialising in illustration and
She also uses printmaking methods such as collagraphy, linoprinting and dry-point, and set up her handmade card business in 1992, with help from the Prince’s Trust. At a trade fair in 1994, she was presented with a silver medal by Prince Charles for her achievements in her business.
Alison has supplied many outlets around the country, including the V&A and Primavera, and has had more than 600 greeting card designs published over the years, by companies such as Phoenix Trading, Green Pebble and Artists’ Cards.
Alison, whose work is also on sale in local National Trust shops, says it was an exhibition at the Fen Ditton Gallery in 1992 that “kick-started” everything.
“I then had help from the Prince’s Trust,” she recalls. “They lent me money to buy an etching press and they sponsored me at a couple of trade fairs.
“I had stalls at some trade fairs and I got picked up by some publishers, so ever since then I’ve been working freelance for various publishers, designing cards and wrapping paper and advent calendars – all sorts of things.”
Alison continues: “I also do my own printmaking work for exhibitions and sell works at galleries. About 10 years ago, I started doing my own products and my prints that weren’t made into cards, I self-published them, and places like Anglesey Abbey started selling my cards.”
Alison also makes tea towels and coasters in her garden studio and in 2007, she was the featured artist in the BBC2 Schools programme, Seasonal Snapshots. Her bicycle designs seem uniquely ‘Cambridge’.
“All the bike designs started because I had work in Cambridge Contemporary Crafts [an art gallery in Bene’t Street] and they were doing a special bike-themed exhibition because it was the year the Tour de France came to Cambridge,” she explains.
“I did bike-themed prints and bike tea towels and coasters and things especially for that – and they’ve stayed really popular since then. I probably sell more of them than anything else.”
Much of Alison’s inspiration comes from her daily dog walks in Milton Country Park. “I observe a lot of nature and birds,” she says, “and I love the winter trees – the bare branches with a splash of colour, like red berries.
"One year, there were crab apples left really late on one of the trees in the park and they just looked like gold balls, so I did a print of that which completely sold out.”
Lockdown hasn’t been too bad for Alison’s business – partly due to the fact that a lot of people have been baking and therefore her baking tea towels have been selling well – although it’s not all been positive.
“All my shows were cancelled last year,” she notes, “apart from Open Studios, which I managed to do by myself – it was July and you could have six people indoors, and I had a gazebo outside as well.
"I normally do Ely Cathedral Christmas fair and the Histon Handmade fair – they’re my two biggest fairs of the year and they went online. But it’s not the same as face-to-face.”
At present, Alison is doing some licence work for a company called Flamingo Paperie. She has also been working on a new wrapping paper design, which should be out in March, and some new prints for Cambridge Open Studios.
She notes that her orders are “probably 50-50” from the UK and the US on Etsy. Galleries that have previously exhibited Alison’s work include the VK Gallery, St Ives, the Babylon Gallery, Ely, Haddenham Galleries, and Denny Abbey.
For more information on Alison, visit hullyer.co.uk.