Fantasy – Realms of Imagination Exhibit

Students and Alumni have participated in the Fantasy, Realms of Imagination exhibition at the Hive library in Worcester.

A new exhibition at The Hive, featuring University of Worcester graduates’ and students’ work, is transporting visitors into the world of fantasy and imagination.

It showcases the work of around 30 artists from the Illustration, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Games Art and Animation courses. This free exhibition runs alongside and was inspired by some of the themes of the British Library’s ‘Fantasy – Realms of Imagination’ touring exhibition. Both will be on display in The Hive until February 25.

Third year Illustration student, Sam Morris, is one exhibitor, with an abridged version of her silent picture book, inspired by an item in the Pitt Rivers Museum, in Oxford, that was discovered in Suffolk in 1913. It tells of a young boy who finds a bottle in a museum, which warns of trouble if the witch inside is released.

The 49-year-old, of Twyning, near Tewkesbury, first made black and white ink drawings, based on hundreds of original sketches, then used a digital process to layer it up digitally and play with effects. “It’s lovely for me to see that work displayed amongst other artists and see the way that they have interpreted the world of fantasy,” she said.

A professional artist for 13 years, Sam wants a career as a picture books illustrator. “This degree has taught me about storytelling, how to create narrative and how to use symbolism and metaphors in visuals to convey a multi-layered meaning to my work,” she added.

Illustration graduate Jess Mason’s piece explores perspective from a fairy’s point of view.

“Now we know a lot more because of science and technology, whereas before we embraced and used magic to explain weird things in nature and the world and we don’t have that any more,” she said. “The way to keep that alive is folktales and art, which is what I was trying to do.”

Jess, who graduated in 2018, is a freelance children’s book illustrator and is currently on her 12th book. “I love it so much,” said the 31-year-old, of Worcester. “It’s a great job, it’s really fun. I still have to remind myself when I’m having a hard time with something that I’m so lucky to be doing this.

“At the beginning of a project you get to do lots of research, designing characters and creating worlds for a story you are illustrating. To have your artwork sent to you in book form, or even better seeing it on a bookshelf, is really gratifying. I’m almost certain that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t gone to university. It really helped me; it gave me confidence, networking opportunities that I wouldn’t have got if I hadn’t got my degree.”

Fellow exhibitor Mark Daffin is an independent print maker. He graduated from the University in 2014 after an Illustration degree and Master’s in Creative Media. Like much of his professional artwork, his exhibit reflects an interest in medieval heraldry, mythology, folklore and Arthurian legend. One of the pieces is based on crests knights would wear on their helmets in jousting, in this case a mermaid inspired by a drawing he found in the margins of a medieval illustrated manuscript.

“I was inspired to create my own interpretation,” said the 39-year-old, of Worcester. “During the medieval period, many believed that mermaids were real; our fantasy was their reality. Through my imagery, I aim to evoke some of that mystery.”

For Mark doing the degree helped him find his specialism. “I’d always been interested in art and decided that’s what I’d like to pursue,” he said. “I didn’t find print making properly until I’d started the Master’s, I’d tried lots of things during the degree, but couldn’t find something that clicked. I’ve not stopped since.”

Andrea Moisescu

Artwork of a dragonfuit styled dragon, by Andrea Moisescu.

Fruit Dragon

I started to officially study art when I moved to my local art school in Brasov, Romania in 2011. Here I learned the fundamentals of art. From art history to life drawing, sculpture, illustration, and painting. 

I moved to the UK to study game art at Worcester University in 2016, I was part of the first year to do this course. I then spent three years finishing my studies there and enjoying my time as a student.  

In 2019 I decided to become a freelance concept/ illustration artist and make a living this way. I continued to do this for the next three years until 2022. I’ve had clients from all over the world, but most came from the US. The commissions ranged from book covers to key art, character concept art, detailed illustrations, and everything in-between.  

In 2022 I was hired as an experienced concept/generalist artist at Reality+ where I work at to this day. Here I spend my time making illustrations and concept art for the digital collectible card game Doctor Who: Worlds Apart. 

Years studied at UoW  2016 – 2019 

What is fantasy to me? 

I think that’s the magic of fantasy, it can be anything you want it to be. A dream, adventure, escapism from reality. To me it’s all those things combined.  


Kathryn Martin

Image of artwork by Kathryn Martin, featuring the character Malvolio from the play, Twelfth Night, in drag.

Twelfth Night: Malvolio’s Transformation  

Twelfth Night is a Shakespearean play famous for the masking of gender and farcical mistaken identity. In this adaptation Malvolio casts aside his puritanical prejudices and embraces the transformative and fantastical artform of drag. 

The illusion of drag, transforming appearances to embody another persona, creates a fantasy for both performer and audience, and this fantasy runs through the veins of the narrative of Twelfth Night. In a historical context, Olivia and Orsino gradually falling for Viola, a woman presenting as male, would have been even more farcical owing to the fact Viola would originally have been played by a male actor in drag. 

Kathryn is a multi-award winning illustrator, writer and university lecturer based in London. She is a keen researcher into theatre and performance history, with a passion for Shakespeare and early Twentieth Century ballet.

Kathryn studied BA(Hons) Illustration at the University of Worcester and MA Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. Since graduating in 2015, her work has been recognised in national and international illustration prizes, including the World Illustration Awards, Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize and the Cheltenham

Illustration Awards. Kathryn’s work has also been exhibited internationally in Europe and Asia.

Kathryn is Senior Lecturer in Illustration for Communication at Ravensbourne University London. In 2020, Kathryn’s academic article The Spirit of Vaslav Nijinsky was published in the peer reviewed Journal of Illustration.

Years Studied at UoW: 2010 – 2013

What is Fantasy to Me?

Fantasy is the magical stepping stone placed in between a familiar and imagined reality. In my opinion, the most successful works of fantasy are grounded in aspects of familiar reality that an audience can understand and to which they can relate. This can be allusions to a particular culture or era, familiar iconography skewed to fit a new setting, or recognisable narrative archetypes with which the creator can play and/or subvert. This grounding in the recognisable is the hook that allows audiences to take the leap into a fantastical world, providing a lens through which to process the magical and/or outlandish qualities of a work of fantasy.

Niamh Baxter

Pages 4 and 5 of Niamh Baxter's work, An Adventurers Guide to Beasts.

An Adventurer’s Guide to Beasts 

Niamh Baxter  

“An adventurer’s guide to beasts” is a bound book where each page has a different mythical creature on it. It shows the written notes of an adventure (written in a lost, long forgotten language) who has been keeping track of all the mythical beasts they have come across on their travels. All the images inside of the book are made from paper, using collage as a technique to create each one.  

Niamh Baxter is currently studying her third year of illustration at the University of Worcester. During her time studying there, she has enjoyed creating paper crafts and collage, integrating it into her own practice. Her practice includes creating creatures and monsters using these processes, layering together all the intricate details to create the final piece.  

Current 3rd year Illustration student at UoW  

What is fantasy to me?  

Fantasy is all about allowing your imagination to run wild. I enjoy the world building that comes with fantasy, especially indulging in creating mythical beasts and fantastical creatures. Fantasy is all about things that are not real and experimenting with how much fun you can have with the creation process.  

Contact: Email:   

Mark Daffin

Print by Mark Daffin

Le Chevalier À La Sirène  

Linocut relief print on handmade, cotton rag paper with deckled edges, 21.5 x 30.5cm.  

Le Chevalier À La Sirène (the mermaid knight) is inspired by medieval jousting heraldry. The twin tailed mermaid or siren adorns the knight’s helm. A shell is embossed on the ecranche as a symbol of protection and defence. This is a handcrafted relief print, the texture of the paper and of the print itself create a unique and tactile artefact.  

Mark Daffin  

Influenced by medieval mythologies, folklore and esotericism, Mark Daffin explores these themes through the art of relief printmaking. Crafting handmade prints with allegorical imagery that serve as individual and unique artifacts, these images are often layered with mystery and metaphor, inviting the viewer to explore beyond the obvious. Mark Daffin studied a BA in Illustration 2010/13 before completing an MA in Creative Media 2014/15 at the University of Worcester.  

Years studied at UoW 2010-2013 (BA), 2014-2015 (MA)  

What is Fantasy to Me?  

For me, fantasy is a way to explore beyond the obvious, to delve deeply into the depths of my mind and to engage with mystery. In a world where there is very little mystery left, fantasy allows us to reclaim that mystery. It enables us to envision worlds full of secrets and unexplored lands, to discover fantastic beasts and investigate alien flora. Fantasy offers us the opportunity to become the architects of our own mysteries, to dwell for a moment in the lands beyond our own.

Ollie Davis

Brân the Blessed  

Brân the Blessed is a Celtic deity from Welsh folklore featuring in the Mabinogion. Famed for being a giant king. Brân was mortally wounded and asked his loyal companions to cut off his head and carry him around with them. He provided entertainment and companionship for 80 years until buried under London. 

This Illustration is an exaggerated interpretation of the Celtic Saint’s stature. With non-human elements that suggest an otherworldly ‘God-like’ status and powers. 


Ollie Davis attended the University of Worcester School of Art from 2015-18. His work went through a dramatic transformation from monochrome line drawing to a more children-oriented visual language. He then went on to attain a Masters degree in Illustration from Arts University Bournemouth (2019-21), where he continued developing his portfolio for the children’s publishing industry. Since then, he has been working professionally as an illustrator on the south coast on projects such as; installations, children’s books, book covers and posters for a variety of clients. 

What is Fantasy to me?  

To me fantasy is an effective method of tackling both lighthearted and difficult subjects in a more approachable setting. Without so many stigmas attached to the topic in question, a fantasy world can be completely inclusive as it is indicative of the creator/s which have molded the world through their own interpretations. 


Maddison Dilloway

Limbweaver Compendium  

Maddison Dilloway 

The Limbweaver- a variation of the Barkbound Siren: elusive forest dwellers that use the disguise of a tree to lure in their prey.   

They are only seen at night, emerging from deep within the forest, contorting their fleshy bodies to mimic the form of a tree. Their deceptive guise can easily be mistaken for the texture of bark in the low light, as they patiently await unsuspecting victims.  

Maddison Dilloway is currently studying her first year as a Fine Art & Illustration student at the University of Worcester. Specialising in digital media, her creative focus lies in character, fashion, and game design. She aspires to hone her skills and interests during her university years.  

Maddison finds herself drawn to more morbid or dark visuals, yet this doesn’t hinder her from weaving surreal or funky elements into her work where she can. She has always immersed her life in her art, continually pursuing inspiration and the next best artistic endeavour.   

Current 1st year Fine Art & Illustration student at UoW 

What is Fantasy to Me? 

Fantasy to me is a limitless concept, a blend of comfort, nostalgia, and imagination that has no boundaries. From the pages of a book to games, to drawings on a cave wall, fantasy is like a thread connecting us to our own history and other people around the world. 

Contact: instagram @ar2sy.  


Sam Morris

Peck ‘o trouble -abridged version

Sam Morris

Embark on a journey with an inquisitive boy at Pitt Rivers Museum, stumbling upon a mysterious bottle. Rooted in Sussex folklore, the vessel, unearthed in 1913, is said to harbour a male witch-a tale warning of potential chaos if unsealed. The bottle’s real presence, though unopened, resonates with mystery and intrigue. This story is a bridge between history and myth, it intertwines reality, folklore, and contemporary art inspired by the museum’s timeless tales. 

I am a visual artist embracing the world of storytelling through illustration. As I navigate the exciting challenges of my third year in the BA Hons Illustration Degree at The University of Worcester, I seek the sweet spot between fine art and illustration, employing laters of texture to construct a visual narrative. These textures are not just aesthetic elements; they carry symbolic weight, with roughness embodying resilience and softness channelling vulnerability. As I delve into this intersection, I aim to craft illustrations and stories that are playfully engaging yet authentically grounded in research of our history and culture. 

Current 3rd Year Illustration Student

What is Fantasy to Me?

Fantasy holds a blend of historical and mythological elements for me. It’s a realm where folklore, local legends, and the mysterious artefacts of the past converge. There’s so much potential to explore between reality and myth, allowing for a rich exploration of cultural stories, magical possibilities, and the allure of fantastical adventures. 


More Stories