Sutton couple are stars of steampunk book

Julie and Peter with the new book.
Julie and Peter with the new book.

When you visit The Louvre you expect to see iconic works of art like the Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ or Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ but not a fine art image of yourself.

But that is the case for one Sutton couple who have found stardom after appearing in a steampunk book full of fine art images which appeared in an exhibition in the Paris museum.

One of Peter's creations.

One of Peter's creations.

Julie and Peter Walton “fell into” steampunk in 2009, a genre of science fiction set in the Victorian era and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.

The couple who live off Alfreton Road have one son Robert, aged 27.

They also have two grandchildren.

Julie who is 52 plays Eva Lovelace the heroine of the story.

Peter playing Dr William

Peter playing Dr William

She said: “The weirdest thing is knowing my picture is on someone's wall.

“Everyone loves the one of me in a mask - it is a little surreal. People come up to me and call me Eva.

“With the picture in Louvre it’s silly how big it has gone - there is even talk of making into a film.

“It really is a Tim Burton film - I would be made up if he gets hold of it.

Julie as Eva Lovelace

Julie as Eva Lovelace

“When we did the book launch - people were asking for autographs - I was like what for.

“We’re just two normal people from Sutton.”

The Imaginarium, ‘Eva’s story’ is book one of a trilogy containing over 150 fine art images.

The tale includes a cast of over 150 steampunk fans and used locations from across the country including Papplewick Pumping Station, Rufford Abbey and Warsop.

The images were created by Gary Nicholls who layered images using photoshop - each taking between 100 to 350 hours to produce and created worlds that only exist in his mind.

The story follows Julie and her husband who plays Dr William, featuring items created by Peter including an orb known as a ‘Necessitti’, which cost over £12,000 to make and took three years to create.

Peter owns PNE Controls Ltd, based at Millenium business park, Mansfield, and Julie said he has “always tinkered and made gadgets” one of the reasons the couple got into steampunk.

Peter, aged 51, created metal wings which shoot steam five years ago- which Julie said “blew” Mr Nicholls away and they stayed in touch.

She said: “All the time people are asking us to make things.

“This was just a hobby - we don’t want to start making copies - it won’t be special - so far everything we do is unique.

“They are all one off there are no patterns for them.”

Julie also made outfits for the book.

She said: “I have always been a goth, but outfits are expensive and made cheap so I got used to makeing own clothes.”

Julie said she had plenty of practice creating Victorian gowns for when she went to Whitby Goth Weekend.

She also said that going to the photoshoots were “amazing”.

She said: “I love it - it was total escapism - when you’re on set the way Gary works you just don’t just stand in front of camera you act. He doesn’t want it to look staged.

“It has been so much fun - it has been a big adventure.

“So far no one has made any money - if we don’t it has been one hell of a ride.”

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Gary Nicholls’ photography

Gary Nicholl’s technique involves a technical layering technique, influenced greatly by the old masters such as Caravaggio.

He builds layers from multiple photographs taken personally from locations as diverse as New York City, London, Barcelona, Cambodia, Poland, Kefalonia, Portugal.

He said: “All images are completely formed in my mind before I set about picking up my camera.

“If I cannot find the exact location, I build one in photoshop from different elements of the places I have visited and photographed… the street scene is made up buildings all over the UK, from Leamington to London.”

Mr Nicholls prints the final image on metal.

He has now released the first volume in The Imaginarium Trilogy, entitled ‘Eva’s Story’ and is currently working on the second, entitled ‘Robbie Pertwee’.