Archive for the ‘Chirk Castle’ Category

I took some photos of my street during a partically foggy evening. They provided good inspiration for my Chirk Castle piece! Spooky…

A little bit of Sleepy Hollow, perhaps…



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While I was happily designing my ghosts, and enjoying drawing the spooky designs, I realised I had no real concept for the story where these ghosts were going to be set in. Worried, I spoke to my tutor, who was a great help to me in sorting out my ideas. I wrote a few initial ideas down, unsure if I wanted to create images for a children’s book, or aim it more at teens. I wanted to create images for children, having been inspired by my Haunted Mansion book and the Disney Imagineers. However, I felt that my drawings were far too “frightening” to use for children. 

My ideas

I had two domiant ideas for the story concept, one more cantered for children, the other an older audiance. Both involved a character having to stay at the castle alone, and is spooked by the ghosts. The childlike concept had the ghosts being prankish, cute, “Casper” like things, who teased the character and then became friends with them at the end of the story. The second involved the character being led through the castle by a caretaker, who would protect the character from the more frightening looking ghosts, leading them to safety; only once the character was free from the horrors of the castle would they realise the caretaker was a ghost as well, trapped within the bounds of the castle with the tortourous spirits.  I presented both these concepts to my tutor, who advised that I continue with the story for children; and that I don’t need to edit it to suit an older audience simply because my artwork isn’t “cute”.

My final story concept

I decided I wanted to change a lot of my story idea after speaking with my tutor. I wanted to create a story concept for a children’s book, set in Chirk Castle. I wanted it to be about a young girl who has to spend a night in the castle, and ends up being locked in a room. She hears noises and sees eyes staring at her from a suit of armour’s visor. Frightened, but brave, the young girl decides to find the source of the noises and befriend it. She looks through the room, under tables and behind books on the shelf, only to be spooked by the sudden apperance of a slinky black cat; while petting it, the little girl realises from it’s bright yellow eyes that it must have been the source of the spooky goings on in the room.

I want to include three characters in the story; the little girl, the cat, and the caretaker. I liked the idea of a creepy caretaker leading the child into the castle, before leaving her in the room where she accidentally locks herself in. I aim to design each of the characters, and plan on the scenes that will take place. Most notably, I want the caretaker leading the girl through the main gate and into the castle, the girl trapped in the room and seeing the eyes, and the girl petting the cat.

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  So I began searching for more ghosty inspiration. I’ve been a lover of Disney and the theme parks from a young age, with one of my favorite rides being the “Haunted Mansion”. (Known as the “Phantom Manor” in Disneyland Paris).

A source of great ghostly inspiration!

The aura of creepyness conbined with the comedy aspect allows the guests to feel a little nervous and jumpy, but at the same time feel in safe hands. This is the kind of feeling I wanted from my Chirk castle project at this stage. I decided to use my book “The Haunted Mansion, from the Magic Kingdom to the Movies” as inspiration to begin my ghost designs. The book features many of the orginial concepts and illustrations for the ride, including a number of ghost character sketches, inked illustrations and coloured works; most of these were drawn and created by Ken Anderson, Claude Coats and Marc Davies.

Grim Grinning Ghosts!


All three were part of Disney’s “Nine Old Men” who were a group of the company’s top imagineers and animators, and were involved in a number of famous works by the company, as well as creating concepts for the park itself. Their work has always inspired me; I feel they each hold a great talent for capturing character, emotion and the feeling of movement in their work. All three have also been given of honary status of “Disney Legend.”

Another ghostly character.


I found it very hard to begin this project, even with finally deciding on doing ghosts, and having sources of inspiration. So, I simply decided to sit down and draw a “ghost”. I ending up very quickly drawing the typical cartoonish “sheet with eyeholes” ghost.

Not exactly the scariest little spook...

Not exactly a well developed concept, but I needed something to act as a starting point. From this I drew a few other ghost concepts, ranging from cute cartooony “Casper” style ghosts to more frightening, ragid looking things trailing tattered fabric. I really enjoyed playing with the designs for the ghosts.

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Spooks and spectres…

Once I’d visited Chirk Castle, I found it very difficult at first to think of concepts and ideas. I did a mind map, but still found myself struggling to come up with something I was happy with. I didn’t want to produce a poster, since I’d done that on two occassions previously on this course. (For the role of the designer brief and the toy brief). I played with the idea of being inspired by the statues in the grounds, which had fanisated me; the statues were of two women stood either side of a hedge enteranceway, one blindfolded, the other bound by her hands tied behind her back. What did these statues mean? Why were they there? I was drawn to the idea of the statue of Justice, who is blindfolded so she may judge unbiasedly. However, when I realised this was an idea a friend of mine was class was also doing, I felt a little disheartened, and went back to the drawing board to come up with another concept. As soon as I heard we were to be doing a project inspired by the castle, my first thoughts had leapt to the idea of ghosts. I’ve always been fasinated by the idea of the supernatural, and thought a castle like Chirk would be filled with ghost stories to draw inspiration from. When I reasearched it, though, I found there to be hardly any accounts or myths about ghosts surrounding the castle. There was the story of the bloody hand, but that had nothing to do with ghosts, and was about the fight between two sons for the inheritance of the castle. I spoke to Heather, a friend in my class, asking her if she had come across any ghost related stories in her research. She told me how, after lengthly internet searches, she had come across a number of small incidences that had supposedly occurred at the castle; such as visitors being poked or nudged slightly by an unseen force, and footsteps seemingly following staff members down the portrait gallery.

Could this be a ghost outside Chirk castle's chapel?

 I found a few articles discussing various ghostly phenomenon at Chirk on http://www.Paranormaldatabase.com, one of the incidents being where a photographer was practising with various lences, and happened to take a photograph of what appeared to be a semi transparent figure outside the chapel.

When I walked through Chirk castle, I must admit some of the darker areas (such as walking along the dark portrait gallery) did feel incredibibly creepy and at times uneasy; but I’m unsure if this was just my imagination running away with me, or something else. Inspired by the stories, I have now decided to concentrate and devleop ideas on the ghost concept.

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One of our Year Two projects is to be based on a visit to Chirk Castle. To gain inspiration from the castle and the grounds I spent a day there taking photographs and sketching the architectural features, the grounds and the interiors. Some of the photographs I have taken:

This is just a sample of the many many photographs I took,  but I think this blog is becoming a bit photo-heavy, so I will upload the rest and post a link !!

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