Welcome to the latest Studio Spark, where the CWA design studio shares whatever has been sparking our creative imaginations over the past month – whether that be Art or Design, Film or Theatre, Music or Dance, Technology or Nature…

Here’s this month’s roundup.

Painting the rain

Written by Chris Nobbs

siyuan(Left) Siyuan pictured with two of her paintings at the LSA annual exhibition, also wearing a handmade top printed with one of her “Kisses of the Rain” paintings

It’s time to shine a spotlight on a rising artist in our very own ranks here at cwa, Siyuan Ren, who has been busy exhibiting paintings at a number of events around the region. An Account Director by day, outside of work she loves to paint and has been building up an impressive body of work – proving that creativity runs through all areas of the agency!

Born in Shanghai and educated in Amsterdam, travel is a big part of Siyuan’s life and a key inspiration for her art. She combines traditional Chinese techniques with contemporary Western art, creating a unique East-West fusion.

As well as taking inspiration from many of the places she has visited, there are several other recurring themes that run through Siyuan’s work, one being rain. She has produced a whole series of paintings entitled “Kisses of the Rain” which all display a tranquil beauty in their ripples and reflections. “You see a different world through rain,” she says, “It’s more romantic. It also links the places I have lived – Suzhou, where I grew up, where it drizzles in early summer; Amsterdam, where I went to Uni, with heavy summer storms; and England, where we are obviously not short of it!”

Peonies, the national flower of China, also feature in many of Siyuan’s pieces, usually as court style paintings using traditional methods such as Chinese ink on rice paper. Digging further into her interest in historical styles, she has also created a set of paintings inspired by the 16th century Dutch Golden Age still life style. And she has also recently been experimenting more with mixed media, a couple of her recent works incorporating traditional Chinese painting on part-burnt silk layered on top of an oil painting.

“My day job is quite full on,” says the artist, “but whenever and wherever I have time, I will paint or draw. I sometimes bring my sketchbook or paintbrushes and camera with me to travel.” And, I ask her, does she find that her artistic side helps with her day job? “Definitely. I am in a creative business and my artistic side definitely helps me. And when things get stressful, painting calms me down!”

Siyuan has recently had paintings exhibited as part of the LSA (Leicester Society of Artists) Annual Exhibition at the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery in Leicester; at the Stratford upon Avon Art Society Annual Exhibition; and at the Glenfield Art Gallery, and also has a number of pieces on display / for sale at Spa Town Coffee in Leamington Spa. You can see more of her work and find out more about the artist on her website.

Scarfolk by name, Scar folk by nature

Written by Martin Lovegrove


Scarfolk is a fictional town in Britain which is locked into the 1970’s and has it’s lost artefacts documented online at the Scarfolk blog.

Creator and Mayor of Scarfolk, Richard Littler, goes to painstaking lengths to create incredibly authentic material from Public Information Posters, Healthcare Leaflets, TV Stills, Movie Merchandise etc all with a slightly sinister and surreal edge.

Being a child that grew up in the 70’s – 80’s myself, the imagery here is absolutely spot on with an equal balance of humour and terror added.

The success of the blog lead to the publication of a book, ‘Discovering Scarfolk’  which tells the story of a Dad who’s family go missing when visiting Scarfolk, and clues slowly reveal themselves through the examination of discovered artefacts left behind.

The writing is excellent on it’s own, but the design parodies are the cherry on the cake here… highly recommended.

For more information, please re-read this post.

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