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'A world of fantasy' - Artist to publish children's book... 40 years after starting it

PUBLISHED: 19:42 12 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:16 13 October 2019

East Bilney artist Jenny Rhodes with her husband Frank Michie. The couple both created the Sleepy Time Castle children's story book together. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

East Bilney artist Jenny Rhodes with her husband Frank Michie. The couple both created the Sleepy Time Castle children's story book together. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

SOPHIE WYLLIE

Her designs are on thousands of homeware items around the world.

Illustrations from Sleepy Time Castle by East Bilney artist Jenny Rhodes. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIEIllustrations from Sleepy Time Castle by East Bilney artist Jenny Rhodes. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

And now an acclaimed designer and artist will be publishing a children's illustrated poetry bedtime book - 40 years after starting it.

Sleepy Time Castle is the creation of Jenny Rhodes, 69, of East Bilney, near Dereham.

She started creating the delicate drawings of fairies, flowers and other-worldly scenes in the 1970s when she was starting out in her design career while living in Nottingham.

But after big commissions and commercially-successful designs got in the way she finally managed to finish the 80-page hardback book after picking up the children's project two years ago.

Illustrations from Sleepy Time Castle by East Bilney artist Jenny Rhodes. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIEIllustrations from Sleepy Time Castle by East Bilney artist Jenny Rhodes. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Mrs Rhodes said: "It is about teaching children things that happen throughout the year in Britain. It is something that grandparents would buy to read to their grandchildren."

The book features poems written by her husband of 47 years, Frank Michie, and focuses on flowers for each month of the year as well as traditional festivals held across Britain.

"It is about going back to a gentle way of life," she added.

"I'm amazed that the children who see it get lost in the book. They go into the world of fantasy. It teaches them that they can write their own stories and be very creative. Lots of children who have had it read to them remember it.

Illustrations from Sleepy Time Castle by East Bilney artist Jenny Rhodes. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIEIllustrations from Sleepy Time Castle by East Bilney artist Jenny Rhodes. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

"There is something magical about paper and pencils. I love it."

The poems were also written back in the 1970s and were read to the couple's daughter, who is now 32, and their nephews and nieces.

Mr Michie, 70, admitted his poems were infantile but knew his wife's designs so well they fitted in with her ethereal style.

The designs, inspired by turn of the century artists, started out as pencil drawings transformed by watercolour.

A popular tea towel design by Jenny Rhodes sold by John Lewis and Partners in the 1970s. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIEA popular tea towel design by Jenny Rhodes sold by John Lewis and Partners in the 1970s. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Mrs Rhodes said her late author father, Albert Rhodes, who wrote jokes for comedian Les Dawson, would have been thrilled about her book.

Since the 1970s, Mrs Rhodes has created designs for thousands of home items, from tea towels to biscuit tins, sold across the world in stores including Marks and Spencer and John Lewis and Partners.

She has also designed couture dresses and patterns for Royal Doulton and Wedgewood.

Visit www.jennyrhodes.com

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