Chingford artist Ross Cheam talks about having his first London exhibition.

Chingford artist Ross Cheam is having his first solo exhibition at the Reading Room Gallery, Soho

'White Flag' by Chingford artist Ross Cheam is on display at the Reading Room Gallery, Soho.

First published in Highlights East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Features Writer

Sat crossed-legged in front of the television, a seven-year-old Ross Cheam made a decision.

When he grew up, he would work as an artist, drawing characters inspired by the Disney films – The Little Mermaid, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules, and creating a fantasy world to escape the realities of everyday life.

Few adults realise their childhood dreams, but Ross, now 24, is currently exhibiting his first solo art show in the Reading Room Gallery, Soho.

“Growing up, I was very much into Disney,“ says the Chingford-based artist. “I remember drawing lots of Disney characters as a child. My brother Tom and I were creative as children; we both aspired to work for Disney.

“For me, animation, film and television are about being taken to a new world and being told an exciting and thrilling story.

“Lots of things inspire me, from an interesting colour combination in the sky, to a particular feeling you get when listening to music or watching a film.

“Action heroines often feature in my work, they’re not just a reflection of the strong females that surrounded me and inspired me growing up, but also an analogy for those that society sees as the underdog, standing up and being empowered. I was never an alpha-male.

“Through my work I attempt to create new environments, so that the viewer can feel part of some exciting world or action sequence and be told a story.“

Ross’s usual medium is a combination of hand-drawn and digital, starting with a biro-sketched image that is developed digitally, often incorporating rotoscoping.

A total of 14 of his pieces are being exhibited at the show, called The Escape, created over the past two years.

“I feel it’s important for me to start with something done by hand,“ he explains. “I think people are often surprised my tool of choice is a black biro, I rarely use pencils or charcoal.

“There’s something I like about defined lines, that’s why my style lends itself to comic book and animation work.

“I’m very excited about my first solo show, it hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’ve tried to pick pieces that work well together. I hope people feel like they’ve just seen a film, or a collection of films. I want them to leave thinking ‘that was exciting’, ‘I’d like to go to a place like that’ or ‘I’d like to be that character’.

“They can walk off the street and take a moment away from reality and their everyday life, they can escape.“

The Escape is showing at the Reading Room Gallery, Frith Street, Soho, from Monday, January 14 to Thursday, February 28. Details:

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