by Jeremy Wade ART lovers interested in seeing the creative process at work have an opportunity to do so in Stroud from next week. The occasion is the first ever public showing of designs and sketches for The Key to the Kingdom, the award-winning book and playing-card set created by internationally renowned artist Tony Meeuwissen, from Amberley. Three years in the making, the project was inspired by a commission from London's V & A Museum to design the picture cards for a deck based on nursery rhymes. "After doing it I thought it would be interesting to do a set where all the cards are picture cards," said Tony. "So I did some thumbnail drawings to see if I could find enough interesting ideas using the four symbols." This led to his full deck of 53 "transformation" cards, where each one has the appropriate number of hearts, clubs, diamonds or spades cunningly incorporated into a picture. "Some of the ideas came while I was sitting at my desk playing with shapes and patterns. Others came from observation," he explained. "For example, the last card I did was the Ace of Diamonds. I had already explored images such as flying carpets and pyramids and walking in the wood one day I saw a bright red curled-up autumnal leaf. And there it was - perhaps the most striking image of them all." In another leap of lateral thinking, the reflected funnels of the sinking Titanic make the Three of Diamonds. Look closely at a wasp's abdomen and it's the four of spades. In one clever visual pun, an octopus brandishes a pen in every arm, with the nibs adding up to the Eight of Spades. And not only schoolboys will snigger at the Two of Hearts, in which a baboon innocently looks at you over his shoulder. As well as becoming a collector's item, The Key to the Kingdom won the WH Smith award for best illustration and The Designers and Art Directory Association of London gold award. As a record of the process behind the finished work, this exhibition, which commemorates the tenth anniversary of publication, is a unique piece of art history. It runs at Mills Cafe in Withey's Yard, just off Stroud High Street, until November 23.