Wander More with Welsby – a fantastic comics-inspired trail around Bowness-on-Windermere!

A wonderful comics-inspired trail populated with weird and wonderful creations opens from 17th March 2022 around Bowness-on-Windermere – a partnership between the Lake District National Park Authority and the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, supported by other key local partners.

Follow super dude Welsby on a character trail that starts from the Information Centre on Glebe Road, Bowness-on Windermere, meeting wonderful characters like “Belmondo” and “Duffell” along a walk that takes in Bryson’s Tea Room & Bakery, the Windermere Jetty Museum, and Queen Adelaide’s Hill, where you’ll encounter the mysterious Mossop, the Woodland Sage.

The creatures you’ll find along the way are the creations of Louise Evans, AKA Felt Mistress, an internationally-renowned creator of felt figures, from human-looking creatures to monsters and bugs, and her partner, comic artist, illustrator and designer Jonathan Edwards. Louise’s many previous projects include previously working with Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals on his film, American Interior.

Louise trained as a dressmaker and milliner, but her illustrator friends used to draw her wonderful birthday cards, and to reciprocate she would take the characters they’d drawn and make them 3D.

Inspired by travel or, perhaps, simply a person walking down the street, or an illustration created by her partner, Jonathan Edwards, Louise brings wonderful characters to life, enchanting fans of all ages. Now, she’s created a parallel universe around Bowness, populated with her weird and wonderful creatures, for all to enjoy.

The Wander More With Welsby Trail was instigated by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival – whose annual Festival takes place in October in Bowness-on-Windermere – working hand in hand with the Lake District National Park, the National Trust and local partners Bryson’s and Lakeland Arts.

The project is set to enchant explorers of all ages for the next month!

Julie Tait, Director, The Lakes International Comic Art Festival said: “We are so excited to bring these wonderful creatures to the Lakes! The trail will definitely bring a smile to your face and the quality of the work is just sensational. This is a taster of the creativity we’ll be bringing each year to Bowness-on-Windermere – the new home for our comic festival.”

Kerry Powell, Director of Communications and Resources, The Lake District National Park said: “We are very excited about the trail and hope it will delight audiences of all ages, encouraging them to explore the Lake District and see it in a new and fun way. The cultural landscape of the Lake District National Park has inspired artists for generations and it’s great to see that legacy continuing through contemporary artist Felt Mistress. The trail has been created to celebrate our partnership with Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, which we hope will encourage new audiences to explore and enjoy our beautiful and inspiring National Park.”

• “Wander More With Welsby Trail” launches 17th March 2022 and ends 25th April, the character trail starting at Glebe Road and ending at Queen Adelaide’s Hill. The Felt Mistress creations will return in October, in time for the annual Lakes International Comic Art Festival(14th – 16th October 2022) in Bowness-on-Windermere

Meet the Felt Mistress

Felt Mistress, AKA Louise Evans, is a UK-based stitcher and prolific tea drinker who creates a range of one-off bespoke creatures with her partner, illustrator Jonathan Edwards. Originally trained in fashion design and millinery, Louise has brought many of the skills learnt through years of work as a couture dress maker to the world of character design.

As well as original Felt Mistress characters, Louise has also collaborated with a variety of other artists including Jon Burgerman, Jon Knox (Hello, Brute), Ben Newman and Pete Fowler. (Louise created “John Evans” from Pete’s designs for Gruff Rhys’ American Interior film in 2014). Her work has been exhibited in the UK and internationally and in 2010 she was given her own window on Oxford Street as part of Selfridges’ Christmas display.

In 2011, together with Jonathan, she spent six weeks in Japan, creating work for a gallery residency in Nara, which culminated in headlining the Headspace arts festival in Osaka. In 2013, she was a speaker and exhibitor at the prestigious international character design festival, Pictoplasma, in Berlin and staged her largest exhibition yet, The Hiber-Nation, at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. It featured her biggest creations to date including a 9ft tall “Hugger”.

Felt Mistress: Creature Couture – a 400-page book containing many examples of her work – was published in November 2012.

Lousie’s main interests are sewing, Japan, buttons, creatures, cake and Mr Edwards. When not sewing, she likes to dream she’ll live to see the day when you can download French Fancies “off of the Internet”.

• Find FeltMistress online at www.feltmistress.com

• Follow FeltMistress on Instagram @feltmistress

• FeltMistress in The Guardian – The puppets of the Felt Mistress – in pictures (2015)

• The Guardian: How I work: Felt Mistress

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards work first appeared in 1993 in Deadline and Tank Girl Magazine, with strips such as “Dandy Dilemma”, “Simon Creem”, “The Squabbling Dandies” (with Richard Holland) and one pagers about, amongst others, Scott Walker, Sly Stone, Nancy Sinatra, Kraftwerk and The Beach Boys. Since then, he’s worked for clients that include MojoQMAD, The Black Eyed Peas, A Skillz & Krafty Kuts, The Jungle Brothers, The Glastonbury Festival, and more.

His own comics include Aunt Connie & The Plague of BeardsA Bag Of Anteaters (with Ian Carney) and Two Coats McWhinnie (also with Carney). He’s also been a regular contributor to The Guardian since 1999, illustrating, for example, the “Hard Sell” weekly column in The Guidesupplement since 2002.

• Jonathan Edwards is online at: www.jonathan-e.com

• Find Jonathan on Instagram @jontofski