Graphic novel and comic work at new exhibition

An exhibition by award-winning duo Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers is taking place in Falkirk.

The Graphic Novel World of Metaphrog runs until April 17 at the Park Gallery, Callendar House, Falkirk.

Metaphrog are Franco-Scottish duo Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, winners of The Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016 Best Visual Artist.

The exhibition is part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 and features work from Sandra and John’s 27 years creating comics and graphic novels. Spanning their whole career, it includes pages from Strange Weather Lately, their very first comic, selections from the Louis graphic novels, right up to the more recent fairy tale adaptations, as well as a section on The First Men on Mercury, their four-page adaptation of the Edwin Morgan poem.

There are more than 55 pieces of original art, prints and artifacts and the duo have included process pages, scripts and sketchbooks, as well as short videos. Also on show are some pieces of non-comic original art from Sandra – work that she has made both for commissions and also just for pleasure, working with pastels for example.

Sandra said: ‘When The Park Gallery approached us with the idea of an exhibition we were very excited. This will be our first ever solo gallery show, and it’s an honour to have our work displayed at such a prestigious venue, in such a beautiful, historic building.

‘It also feels very significant to see graphic novels and comics taken seriously by the wider world of art. Over the years we have created several hundred comic pages, so we had to be extremely selective about what is on show. We wanted to make it an interesting cultural and artistic experience for adults and children alike, and a visit to Callendar House, with its permanent displays and beautiful park and setting, should prove a wonderful day out.’

Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers (Photo: Bob McDevitt)

John added: ‘Graphic novels are an exciting and vibrant artform – at the crossover between literature and painting. Their composition is similar to film and perhaps more so to music – all the elements and parameters work together to create an explosion of meanings. Visual storytelling has become an increasingly large part of our global culture.’

Some of the art on show is for sale, and the Callendar House shop also will have a selection of graphic novels and prints for sale.

The duo have also produced a limited-edition catalogue (with a small selection of the artwork), with introductions by Teddy Jamieson (writer at The Herald) and Laurence Grove (The University of Glasgow) and a special postcard to mark the occasion.

In 1994 Sandra packed a bag and moved from France to Scotland to find herself and to become an artist. That same year, John returned from working in the Netherlands. A punk with a PhD in Opto-Electronics, from the University of Strathclyde, he was working in science but had always dreamed of being a writer.

Their meeting was a catalyst: they fell in love and immediately started making and self-publishing comics together. Their Louis graphic novels (2000-2011) received multiple Eisner Award nominations (the Oscars of comics), critical acclaim worldwide, and Louis – Night Salad was Highly Commended for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards (2011).

Their fairy tale adaptations, published by Papercutz in New York (2015-2020), with support from Creative Scotland, saw glowing reviews in The Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian among many, and endorsements by Michel Faber, Denise Mina, Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Frank Quitely and Bryan and Mary Talbot.

The Little Mermaid won the Excelsior Awards Junior 2018. In 2009 they made a comic adaptation of Edwin Morgan’s poem The First Men on Mercury for The Association for Scottish Literary Studies for National Poetry Day. As well as making comics, they love to spread the word about the medium and have delivered over 600 author visits in schools and libraries, as well as undertaking school residencies. In 2015 they were Writers in Residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. They live in Glasgow.

Callendar House is open every day except Tuesday 10am-4pm. The Park Gallery is a contemporary visual arts and crafts gallery situated in Callendar House.

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