Eye in the Sky – psychedelic illustrations from Jim Stoten

Planes, rockets, automobiles, horses in hats and Mary Poppins are all taking to the sky this month, thanks to illuminating and imaginative illustrator Jim Stoten.

His new show, Eye in the Sky, is themed around ‘things that possess the power of flight’, and sees usual aviation agents like birds and aeroplanes jostle for sky-space with more unusual critters like bespectacled bats, humanized dragonflies and a fair few bananas.

We love the bright, bold bonkers style of Stoten’s work, which will be shown across not only 2D illustrations but sculptures, animations, wallpaper and murals for the exhibition, which opens at Jaguar Shoes in east London at the end of April.

‘We went through number of different ideas, and things flying in the sky worked well because we could print on all four walls and have planes hanging from the ceiling’, says Stoten.

‘One of my previous ideas was psychedelia and ideas flying around, so this is a happy middle ground’.

Visitors will find themselves dodging what the venue describes as a ‘fleet of large-scale Technicolor toy planes’ taking off from the walls and ceilings of the venue, as well as mingling amongst lights, lasers and projected visuals.

So it seems that little of Stoten’s affection for psychedelia has been curtailed to fit the gallery walls. He says, ‘Psychedelia has been a recurring theme throughout my work – it feels like an easier translation of what’s in your brain. With psychedelia it’s allowed to be wonky and personal.’

These ‘wonky’ doodles can be given an even more surreal twist thanks to the option of a ‘viewing device’ provided at Jaguar Shoes, which will manipulate and diffuse the light, meaning ‘bursts of colour and rainbows’ will become visible, according to the venue. We’re promised this will precipitate ‘another plain of perception’, man.

Stoten’s creative process begins with his sketchbook, which he says he’s never without. ‘I quite often come up with ideas when I’m about to go to sleep or on the train, those downtime moments’, Stoten explains. 

‘Then it’s about figuring out the best way to do things, enjoying the drawing and trying to solve the problems. [My style] is as close to what’s happening in my brain as my hand will allow it to be’.

As well as Stoten’s illustrative output, visitors to the show can also see his band, Owen and the Eyeballs on a few dates throughout the show’s two-month tenure. The happenin’ beat-combo is formed of four illustrators, including Andrew Rae, the man behind lovely No Brow book Moonhead and the Music Machine. As is perhaps to be expected, the band is very visual, creating surreal stage costumes and sets.

During the exhibition there will also be a series of workshops where Stoten will be guiding people through creating their very own psychedelic suits.

Eye in the Sky is at Jaguar Shoes, 32-34 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8DA from 25 April – 20 July

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