Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle



Last weekend I exhibited at the Ink and Iron tattoo convention with the Light and Dark Exhibition. It was a really enjoyable show with a fantastically friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I think it’s important to mention that there’s been a change of venue this year and the light and space in the venue was perfect for displaying artwork. Additionally all artists were given ample hanging space along with a table for displaying prints and other interesting creations. The standard of work across the show was very high and I think everybody exhibiting enjoyed excellent feedback and good sales. It’s always a struggle for artists to make money from their art so simply covering costs of exhibiting is always going to be a gratefully received bonus.

bees made honey ardent shadows
The Bees Made Honey by Ardent Shadows

Personally I had a fantastic experience, receiving lots of encouraging feedback and meeting some great people. As I haven’t exhibited for a while it was also a chance to look at my full portfolio and identify which pieces interest people and capture attention. This all helps me develop as an artist and explore what work I may want to produce in the future. My highlight was seeing ‘The Bees Made Honey’ go to its new home. It’s always sad to see a painting go as I get really attached to them, especially when they’re a fairly recent piece, but I have to say I don’t think I could have picked anyone better to buy it. Sue, if you see this post, thank you for falling in love with this painting as much as I did painting it! It’s such an honour when somebody invests in an original piece. For those who haven’t seen it, you can watch the creation of this painting on YouTube – The Bees Made Honey

I also treated myself to a few small purchases and have got some excellent new curiosa for reference along with some prints that I’m busily framing up to add to my little gallery wall at home. If you want to check out a couple of amazing artists and a really lovely shop for curiosa check out the links below:

These are just a few of my favourites but check out the Ink and Iron website to see a full list of the wonderful artists that attended.

Finally I just want to say a big thank you to the Ink and Iron organisers, Jo Farn for so successfully organising Light and Dark Exhibition and everyone who stopped by to see it on Sunday; whether you bought something, chatted about our work or just simply stopped to say hello, thanks for supporting artists creating original artwork in our constant fight against a culture of cheap mass production. I’m already looking forward to next year’s show.


If you’re viewing this post of Facebook please see the full links below:

Ink and Iron Convention:

The Bees Made Honey video:

Feathers and Fur:

Annabel Leigh:

Crows and Crossbones:


Portfolio Diversity

Ardent Shadows
Ardent Shadows

Last Saturday I had the best show I’ve had in ages at the Alternative and Burlesque Fair in Birmingham. I firstly need to say a massive thank you to the the A&B team because it was hands down the most professional and well organised event I’ve worked at. I’m looking forward to their next event in June – which is why I’m now spending some time reflecting on my sales.

It was lovely to have a big space to fill on Saturday. It gave me the opportunity to display several large canvases alongside smaller originals of all shapes and sizes and whole plethora of prints. After four years of painting for Ardent Shadows I have certainly built up a diverse selection of work. I have often pondered whether to gain popularity and to progress as a professional artists, I should narrow my portfolio and limit aspects of my work. When I look at my contemporaries it certainly appears that artists with a very specific subject matters or techniques are those rising to fame. To have a specific and limited style is something I’ve always admired in other artists.

Hanging by a Thread
Hanging by a Thread

It’s with this in mind that I began to look over the prints and pieces that sold, and the pieces that got the most attention, but I can’t see a pattern or a theme emerging for this particular show. At some shows I can sell multiples of the same prints or prints of pieces which are

similar in subject or at least the style or medium. Across the years I have been taking my work to shows, the self titled piece ‘Ardent Shadows’ has remained one of my most popular pieces and I remember Tattoo Tea Party in 2013 was dominated by ‘Hanging by a Thread’. But at the weekend I sold pieces painted in inks, acrylics and biro studies. Paintings that were sweet and light sold alongside the darker and more oppressive pieces. If diversity of portfolio is really a bad thing shouldn’t it have hindered my sales instead of amplifying them?

I have several ideas for new pieces, all in various stages of development, and for now I’m certainly not going to be limiting myself. Perhaps portfolio diversity is something that every artist starts out with, but the success of just one aspect of their work demands the artist to concentrate on that particular style or subject. I definitely think that diversity within an art project in its youth is no bad thing. I will however continue to envy those who have already made the choices which lead to a focused portfolio, but for now I still feel the benefits of a currently diverse portfolio.

Heartwork: If you missed it, you missed out!

The Heartwork Exhibition was easily one of the best and most enjoyable I’ve been to for a long time. Every featured artist displayed expertise with different media and techniques whilst creating work which was of equally high standard to the next. The subject matter for each artist was diverse however a love of alternative culture and the Heartwork theme ran throughout. Interestingly cats, moths and carrion birds remain popular choices and animals as a whole were a favoured subject, whether they were the primary subject or acting as ‘support’ for a female figure (which as usual featured largely over the male). To me, the predominant similarity between all the artists was the passion and intense amount of work that each artist invests in their art. The whole show had a fantastic energy which I attribute to the excellent selection of artists involved in this one-off evening event.

It was a huge pleasure to exhibit with such a professional and talented group of artists and I sincerely hope that our hosts choose to hold another. Which brings to me to my final thanks, to Jess ‘Crows & Crossbones’ Gough, Claire Corbey and the wonderful Digimem Studios I would like to say a massive congratulations on what was a truly wonderful event! Check out their links below.

You can see some of my phone pics on my Facebook page but there will be bigger and better coverage, by people with actual cameras, which I’ll link from this blog in due course. I’ll also add the full artist list and links in my Facebook album – so go and check them out!!

Jessica ‘Crows & Crossbones’ Gough can be found at: or

Claire Corbey:

Digimem Studios is a great space which is available to rent for a wide range of uses so if you’re a photographer, an artist or just have an event you’d like to hold please check out their pages below:

Finally I’d just like to give a shout out to Dawnii Fantana, Painted Lady Tattoo Studio in Birmingham, who once again had a huge amount of beautiful new pieces to exhibit and whose unceasingly optimistic and enthusiastic nature continues to push me forward. Check out her work and shop at:


Heartwork Exhibition – this Sunday!

Heartwork ExhibitionA pair of extremely talented artists have invited me to exhibit with them this weekend! Be sure to check out Claire Corbey and Jessica ‘Crows & Crossbones’ Gough and make sure you come by the exhibition on Sunday if you’re in the area. It’s going to be fantastic!

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