After a lifetime of hard work, artist Vicky has a happy tale to tell
AN artist has written and illustrated her first book based on the exploits of her niece and nephew and set in her home city of Bristol.
For inspiration, Fishponds born and bred Vicky Clothier cast her mind back over 30 years when her brother's children, Ben and Amy, were youngsters.
The book, called The Adventures of Ben and Amy, follows the children around Bristol on a day out and showcases not only the kindness of people but the wonderful sights the city has to offer.
Aimed at children aged three to six, the 32-page book has even been described as a 'mini tour guide' of Bristol's attractions.
Although Ben and Amy are now 37 and 35, Vicky wanted to set the book in the modern day so her pen and watercolour paintings of places such as the M Shed and Pero's Bridge could be included alongside ones of historic landmarks like the Matthew.
Vicky, 65, has always loved painting but it is only in recent years that she has established herself as a working artist, based at a unit near the city centre.
Previously Vicky had office jobs and worked in factories before giving up work to look after her nan, mother and father, which meant the time she had free to paint was limited.
After her relations gradually died, Vicky was able to devote more time to painting, particularly her favourite medium, watercolour.
Largely self-taught, Vicky started running a stall on Fridays and Saturdays at a market on Corn Street and five years ago moved into a unit inside St Nicholas Market where she can be found honing her skills six days a week.
She trades under the name Vicbric - a nickname given to her by a school friend more than 50 years ago.
"I don't know if she thought I was strong like a brick or as thick as a brick!" Vicky said.
"But the name stuck in my mind so I decided to call my shop Vicbric Art. I thought it sounded catchy."
Vicky, who went to Hillfields infants and juniors before attending the former Speed-well School, always wanted to write and illustrate a children's book.
"I always thought a book based on my niece and nephew would be lovely. We used to have a lot of fun together when they were children. The idea of a book had been on my mind for more than 30 years but it wasn't until I moved to my unit that I knew exactly what I was going to do, which was to combine their adventures with illustrations from the city where I was born and bred.
"Ben now lives in Little Stoke and Amy is in Devon. I decided to make them twins for the book even though they aren't twins in real life, so the book is only loosely based on them. I also had to make some of the adventures up because I wanted to set the book in today's Bristol. The story is also about a lost teddy bear, which is based on a true story as Ben did keep losing his teddy!"
Although a lot of Vicky's work features Bristol landmarks, she also paints seascapes, landscapes, buildings, flowers and trees, among other subjects. She is somewhat unusual as an artist as she has various styles.
"A lot of people think my work is by different artists and when they know they are all mine, they are flabbergasted. I know a lot of artists stick to one style but I can't seem to help it. Different ideas come to me and I've got to paint; I just can't help myself.
"Painting is in my blood. I can't explain it but I've just got to do it."
Vicky is currently liaising with her publisher Arkbound on her second book. This time Ben and Amy take their adventures to Bristol Zoo.
The book is expected to hit shops before Christmas.
The Adventures of Ben and Amy is available to order from Waterstones and Foyles at the price of £5.99 and is on sale at Vicky's unit and at various shops in Bristol including the Tourist Information Centre at the Harbourside.
To find out more about the books or Vicky's work, email firstname.lastname@example.org