• Amy Elizabeth Fine Art

The Secret Postcard Show at the Old Lock Up Gallery in Cromford, Derbyshire.

Last month I had a piece of pastel artwork exhibited at the Secret Postcard Show, which was held at the Old Lock Up Gallery in Cromford, just a few miles away from where I live in Derbyshire. This show was open to all artists to submit a piece of artwork the size of a postcard, which then goes on sale for £15 with funds raised going towards the Gallery, and this year also the charity Arts Emergency. They are an award-winning mentoring charity and network. Their mission is to help marginalised young people overcome barriers to participation in higher education and the cultural and creative industries.


The Old Lock Up Gallery is located in the historic village of Cromford, Derbyshire, which was the birthplace of the industrial revolution and is now a world heritage site. The gallery provides a programme of exhibitions, drawing classes, art workshops, and social events (When there isn't a pandemic on!).


So why is it called a secret postcard show? This is because when submitting a piece of artwork, you are not meant to sign the front, instead, you should write your details on the back of the postcard. This means all the pieces of artwork are anonymous, adding a layer of interest. The show is a great way for people to get their hands on an affordable piece of artwork that will look great in their home.


This year there were 565 postcards submitted from 188 artists around the world. I submitted just the one postcard. As I am a pet portrait artist, who works from photos to create realistic artwork in pastels I wanted to show my skill in creating a realistic piece. With such a small canvas to use I wanted to create a piece that could show just how much detail I could get into a pet portrait, so I chose to create a horse eye study in pastel pencils.

A photograph of a postcard sized piece of pastel artwork. It is a study of a bay horse eye in a realistic style.
Horse Eye Study In Pastel | Amy Elizabeth Fine Art | Pet Portrait Artist Derbyshire

I ended up being pleased with my finished piece of artwork, it achieved the goals I had set, in showing how highly detailed I could make a pet portrait, and also how realistic the final result could be. I was slightly nervous in sending out a piece of pastel artwork with no mount to protect it. (As usually I include a mount in my finished pet portraits, as this creates a more finished looking piece and also protects the work somewhat. Usually, I do not use any fixatives in my work, as it can change the colour. However, with this piece, I decided it was best to put a layer of fixative on in the earlier stages, which I could then work on top of for the final few layers of pastel. This worked very well, as when I saw it on display during the show it looked just as it had done when I posted it out.

Secret Postcard Show | Horse Eye Study | Amy Elizabeth Fine Art

All the postcards were displayed on little racks which were mounted on the walls. There was a wide range of work on display, from watercolour, lino printing, machine embroidery, pastels and collages. It was great to see what a wide range of artwork could be created on such a small canvas, and how different artists could provide such a wide array of work. I particularly enjoyed seeing other pieces of animal artwork, which in itself had a range of styles and mediums of artwork, from my highly realistic pastel portrait of a horse, to a childs' sketch of an alpaca, to the lino-print of a whale you can see in the photograph above.


I purchased one piece of artwork from the show, a watercolour by Rob Thompson, which was a scene from Bardsey Island in Wales. Rob is from Wales and focuses on work that shows the everyday, with a focus on abandoned dwellings and barns.

Bardsey Island Wales | Rob Thompson

Here you can find out more about his work.

Here is where you can find out more about the Old Lock Up Gallery in Cromford, Derbyshire.


I am a pastel pencil and coloured pencil pet portrait artist based in Derbyshire. I work entirely from photographs, either taken by my clients or taken by me. Here you can see a selection of my previous works.

If you are thinking of commissioning a pet portrait I would love to hear from you, get in touch for a no obligation chat about your requirements, either by phone or by email.