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This blog intends to inspire the love of reading and promote appreciation of art through the world of illustrated children’s books. It is a collaborative project with the Imaducation Inc team, whose members share an interest in children’s books.

Here we publish reviews of books, stories of visiting picture book museums and exhibitions, discuss children’s book industry events. For the most part the blog focuses on the work of authors, illustrators and publishers of children’s books.

Click on the “Original Illustrations Gallery” icon  and see our collection of original artworks, drawings and sketches by great Australian artists and illustrators: Robert Ingpen, Ann James, Julie Vivas, Dee Huxley, Anne Spudvilas, Anna Pignataro, Stephen Michael King, Naomi Lewis. We also collect works of Russian origin, for example by Alexei Reipolsky and G.A.V. Traugot, as well as the curiosities such as illustrations by Harry Reade, an Australian cartoonist and an ardent communist who for a while resided in Russia where he happened to illustrate some children’s books.

The gallery will be updated regularly with images of the new acquisitions.

 


Thanks for stepping by,
Natalia Bragaru

Shaun Tan “The Red Tree”

Shaun Tan is one of the great Australian authors and illustrators whose work I fell in love with at first sight. The sight of this book:

Few potent words and spreads of intriguing pictures, I picked it up at random from a bookstore shelf and having read it knew in an instant that it can’t go back on that shelf. As many other Shaun Tan creations (think “The Arrival”, “The Lost Thing”, “Tales from Outer Suburbia”) this book strikes as not quite the one for young kids, perhaps more geared towards awakening the child inside us adults.

Main character is a little girl. The story depicts one day of her life, a day of making sense of seemingly unfriendly, somewhat eerie and alienating world around her. The morning is a bleak one, the day goes on from bad to worse till finally it comes to a startling change: to a clear vision of hope and a beautiful new beginning.

Don’t we all know how sometimes it feels that “nobody understands”, that the world is “without sense or reason”, that we “wait and wait and wait, but nothing ever happens” (mid-life crisis anyone?)… It is all too easy to loose sight of hope. But hope is there, it is “just as you imagined it would be” and “The Red Tree” drives this point home in a bold and beautiful visual way:

Talking about creation of “The Red Tree” Shaun Tan writes of his fascination with “word-picture enigmas” with no traditional narrative. This lack of sequential narrative is “something a picture book is ideal for”, he notes, “you can open it at any page, go backwards or forwards, and spend as much time as you wish with each image.”¹

If you have not yet discovered the power of Shaun Tan’s creativity, “The Red Tree” might be a great start.

Continue reading “Shaun Tan “The Red Tree””

Halloween with Robert Ingpen

I grew up with only a vague idea about Halloween and what it means and celebrates. It took me a while to get used to this annual ‘occasion’ upon moving to Australia… Ghosts, freaky costumes, impersonations of the dead, the occult origins of the whole thing… Hmm! Not quite my idea of fun and I don’t care much for the trick-or-treat lollies. So I have long written it all off for myself until one wonderful encounter with a truly amazing picture book, written by Charise Neugebauer and brilliantly designed and illustrated by none other than the Australian national treasure, Robert Ingpen:

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Having read its engaging verse and instantly drawn into the performance of Robert Ingpen’s art and design I have finally reconciled myself with Halloween’s existence even if just as an inspiration for this dazzling book!

“You are Invited
midnight to dawn”

…so begins a roller-coaster of startles, scares and horrors told in a language vivid and engaging, its visual story so captivating that by the end all you’d want is to go back to the beginning and start all over again.

“Ghosts will fly north and east.
A celebration for the best of beasts.
South and west, bones move slow.
Tombstones call to all who know”…

To all who know that I am a huge fan of Robert Ingpen’s work – this book is one of the many reasons why. A lot has been said in this blog about his illustrations, but part the rave about this book is its most unusual design. It is built with 2 grand posters attached to the front and end papers and unfolding to 4 times the size of the book. The reader unfolds those posters then watches every page-spread turned into center stage at the performance of Halloween Circus at the graveyard lawn! The action spills out from pages to large poster spaces, every turn of a page uncovering something unexpected, unpredictable, something unorthodox.

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“A black cat stares an evil smile.
A small child dreams for a little while.
The fog rolls in. The child is gone.
There’s a Halloween circus
at the graveyard lawn.”

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I love illustrations references to some all-time-favourite book characters and fairy folk spilling out of the Halloween pumpkin and scattered across the pages. Petrified Pinocchio, the White Rabbit clutching the ’31 October’ calendar page, the unicorn, the dragon, the griffon, the Gnomes of Robert Ingpen and those less obvious allusions (do I see one to the Wizard of Oz and the Treasure Island?) as well as appearances from the other books illustrated by Robert Ingpen.

My 9 year old loves “Halloween Circus” read slowly, in a low eerie voice, with a good dose of startling sound effects. And I oblige happily. Then we both get disappointed at the final announcement that:

“The sun is rising. Our fun must fade.
But we will return for the next year’s parade.”

“So until we meet again next year,
Think of us without fear.
Ghosts are dreams. We’re nothing more.
And without your dreams, life is such a bore.”

An opportune moment to go back to the title page and be invited again, “midnight to dawn”:

6-poster-unfolded

This book is out of print, but can be found in local libraries.

Happy Horrible Halloween Read-Aloud!

The CBCA 2016 Book of the Year Awards

On Friday, 19th August 2016, The Children’s Book Council of Australia presented its Book of the Year Awards in 6 traditional categories: picture book, early childhood book, book for younger readers, older readers, information book and award for book illustration for an emerging artist.

This year the CBCA Book of the Year Awards celebrate its 70th anniversary. The 2016 Awards Ceremony has been organised with the assistance of the CBCA NSW branch headed by the woman of extraordinary passion for children’s literature and books Gail Erskine. The CBCA Patron, the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove attended the Awards Ceremony and presented the Book of the Year awards to all winners.

Lady Cosgrove, the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, the CBCA NSW Branch President Gail Erskine - at the 2016 CBCA Book of the Year Awards
Lady Cosgrove, the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, the CBCA NSW Branch President Gail Erskine, at the CBCA 2016 Book of the Year Awards.

In her heartfelt talk the CBCA Deputy Chair Margaret Hamilton spoke of the early days of  the Awards, when in  the late 1940’s  female winners were presented with a camellia bloom whereas male winners were given a handshake. The CBCA and the Book of the Year Awards have since gone from strength to strength. Today, thanks to the CBCA’s Awards Foundation efforts the winners receive the monetary award as well as the well-deserved recognition; the $70,000 cash prize pool this year is the highest in the Awards’ history (and a fitting figure to mark its anniversary).

Prior to launching into the announcement of the 2016 winners, the CBCA made another presentation, which fit this occasion perfectly: the Life-Time Achievement Award to Robert Ingpen.

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Robert Ingpen accepting the CBCA Life-Time Achievement Award presented by the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove

In my world Robert Ingpen needs no introduction, but if you are just discovering this person and his creative powers please check out the gallery of artworks and the book reviews in this blog (I absolutely admire Robert Ingpen’s work and so it features prominently here).

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Robert Ingpen addressing the audience at the CBCA 2016 Book of the Year Awards

Robert Ingpen turns 80 this year and the CBCA is not the only one recognising his extraordinary achievements. National Library of Australia is publishing “Wonderlands: The Illustration Art of Robert Ingpen” (out in October 2016), whereas The Metropolis Gallery in his hometown Geelong in Victoria organises the exhibition “Robert Ingpen’s Storybook Art” featuring about 80 original illustrations and paintings by the artist (15-29 October 2016).

Following the presentation of the Life-Time Achievement Award, the CBCA’s Patron the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove announced and presented the Book of the Year Awards to the 2016 winners (full list of short-listed and honour books is at www.cbca.org.au/winners-2016):

Winners
Winners of the 2016 Book of the Year Awards: Morris Gleitzman, Fiona Wood, Stephanie Owen Reeder, Anna Walker, Allison Colpoys and Robert Ingpen
  1. Picture Book

flight

“Flight” by Nadia Wheatley, illustrated by Armin Greder

  1. Early Childhood

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“Mr Huff” by Anna Walker

  1. Younger Readers

soon-gleitzman

“Soon” by Morris Gleitzman

  1. Older Readers

cloudwish

“Cloudwish” by Fiona Wood

  1. The Eve Pownall Award for Information Book

Lennie the Legend

“Lennie the Legend” by Stephanie Owen Reeder

  1. The Crichton Award for Illustration (emerging artists)

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“The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade” by Allison Colpoys

My personal favourite (and that of my son) that did not win but made it to the Honour List in the Eve Pownall Award category for information book is:

Phasmid Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect (1)

“Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect” by  Rohan Cleave, illustrated by Coral Tulloch

Ronah Cleave
Rohan Cleave accepting the Honour Book certificate presented by the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove

Congratulations to all the winners and happy reading to all of us who love a good children’s book!

Lastly, can not resist to share this great moment in my life: meeting the Master, the man whose work, energy and passion I admire, whose books I love and hope to spread that love… One of my greatest dreams come true:

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“Unplugged!” by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Dee Huxley (Margaret Hamilton Books: 1999)

Cover

“Unplugged!” is a special book. It is the first published work of the great Australian children’s author, the one and only Glenda Millard. I have been fortunate to meet Glenda and the publisher of “Unplugged!” Margaret Hamilton and get an insight into this book’s creation from the perspective of both of these amazing women. I was lucky to also get hold of an original “Unplugged!” illustration by Dee Huxley. Later, two of my best friends who appreciate good books fell in love with “Unplugged!” so much that they too ended up buying an original Dee Huxley illustration each. So the three of us now own a ‘family’ of fantastic “Unplugged!” artworks (see images in the Gallery).

The main delight of “Unplugged!” is its original story told with Glenda Millard’s signature wit, delightful juxtapositions and clever turn of phrase. On a beautiful summer day, courtesy of two family pets – a dog called Fritz and a yabby called Murray – an embarrassing incident happens to Grandma who is taking a bath in an outdoor tub in the garden.

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Grandma attempts to remain dignified no matter what while circumstances seem to work against her taking her from bad to worse state of embarrassment…

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The book’s illustrations are as delightful as its text. The story’s protagonists were inspired by real-life characters – Glenda Millard’s own grandparents and pets and herself as a child. She did not, however, have any influence over how the pictures should ultimately look like; she had not even met Dee Huxley prior to the book’s launch. Yet when Glenda finally saw the illustrations she had been greatly surprised, she said, by Dee’s vision, which aligned so closely with Glenda’s own visual memories of her childhood! When I mentioned owning the original illustration from the page below Glenda Millard exclaimed: “That’s my Grandpa and I on that couch!” and added that her grandparents’ house and the garden had the very ambiance that Dee Huxley captured in her illustrations. I find this ability of great artists to get inside the author’s head truly amazing!

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In addition to entertaining, “Unplugged” celebrates the simple pleasures of countryside living. On a hot summer day Grandpa and Katie harvest honey from beehives, chewing on lumps of waxy honeycomb, Grandpa enjoys a small glass of parsnip wine and has a nap in the refreshingly cool cellar, Grandma takes bath in the garden beneath the plum tree, singing songs to cicadas’ accompaniment, while Fritz is in search of a quiet place for a nap. For afternoon tea all enjoy Grandma’s scones with freshly harvested honey… It reminds me of my own grandparents, their house, the smells in grandpa’s cellar and all sorts of summertime delights. Looking at the busy and rushed city life of mine I find it increasingly difficult to find space for appreciating life’s simple and small pleasures, for enjoying it all at a slower pace. Reading and re-rereading “Unplugged!” every now and again gives me a little bit of that space and an opportunity (no matter how brief) to slow down, smile and remember that life is not all about stressful jobs and endless commitments… This proves again that picture books aren’t only good for children and could and should be enjoyed by all, regardless of the age.

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“Unplugged” is now out of print and hard to come by but is certainly worth a hunt. Check at your local library or buy a used copy (at the time of writing this post 2 books in ‘very good’ condition were listed on abebooks.com). Happy reading!

“Pinerolo” Picture Book Cottage and the Person Behind It

A few hour’s drive from Sydney to Blue Mountains takes you to Blackheath, a small town with an altitude of about 1,000 metres, near the Mountain’s highest point. A further short drive along a narrow, winding road off the main street of Blackheath into Shipley Plateau brings one to an idyllic and tranquil kind of place set amidst the mighty old pine trees and surrounded by lush, colourful gardens.

Pinerolo

This place is “Pinerolo”, the children’s book cottage run by Margaret and Max Hamilton and famous for its collection of over a thousand Australian picture books and a great (and largest in NSW) exhibition of original children’s book illustrations by celebrated Australian artists. Watercolours and pastels by Dee Huxley, Patricia Mullins’s tissue paper collages, Stephen Michael King’s watercolours and drawings, works by Julie Vivas, Noela Young, mixed media works by John Winch, an original book cover illustration by Robert Ingpen, a small but resplendent picture of an owl by Shaun Tan… and much, much more… It’s picture books lover’s heaven on earth!

Pinerolo Art

The four close-up illustrations shown above (left to right) are works by John Winch, Donna Rawlins, Noela Young and Julie Vivas.

The illustrations have been collected by Margaret during her life-time career in the children’s books industry. She has been a librarian, a bookseller, director at the large publishing house (Hodder & Stoughton), an editor, reviewer and consultant. Together with husband Max, they established and ran a highly successful independent publishing business “Margaret Hamilton Books”, specialising in picture books. She has served as the National President of Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) during 1990-1992 and was instrumental in establishing the CBCA’s Awards Foundation, which has since financed CBCA’s annual Book of the Year Awards. For her contribution to children’s literature Margaret received a number of important industry awards as well as the Order of Australia.

While running her own publishing business Margaret was ‘the face’ of Australian picture books at the international Bologna Book Fair (which she visited 23 times) promoting Australian titles to overseas publishers and audiences. “Margaret Hamilton Books”, successful both in Australia and internationally, produced many award-winning books, which are now sadly out of print. Sadly, because so many of them pack a punch! I laughed out loud reading “Unplugged!”, cried real tears reading “My Dog”, longed for my grandparents reading “Grandpa”, marvelled at the beauty of “The Sea-Breeze Hotel”, admired the design of the “Dinosaur Encore”… (check back later for separate reviews on these books).

Kids are bound to fall under the spell of Pinerolo too… It took some time for ours to put down their IPads before we started seeing this, much to our delight:

Pinerolo Books

And once ‘the day has passed as all days must’, kids fallen asleep and the autumn night grown cold, “Pinerolo” turned into this perfect place to chill and talk the night away with best friend… staring into the fire, breathing the smells of burning wood and pine cones, listening to the wind outside, sipping our favourite red…

Pinerolo night

If I had to choose one word to describe “Pinerolo” it would be – special and the word describing Margaret Hamilton would be – inspiring. Although officially retired now, she hasn’t really stopped. Apart from running “Pinerolo” cottage including its artists’ and authors’ residency programs and picture books creation workshops, she now also writes picture books (check back later for review of “B is for Bedtime”). She still serves on the National Board of CBCA, now as Deputy Chair, and is involved in the CBCA’s Blue Mountains sub-branch and it is largely thanks to her that I am now able to help with some CBCA activities too. Thanks for the inspiration, Margaret!

“Pinerolo” is available to visit by appointment, check out www.pinerolo.com.au if interested in experiencing it yourself.

Robert Ingpen and Margaret Dunkle “A Thoughtful Way of Explaining Conservation to Children”

Even though this book was published almost 30 years ago, in 1987, its ideas on conservation are as relevant today if not a lot more than ever before. Its simple words accessible to children (co-authored by Robert Ingpen and Margaret Dunkle) and striking visual messages of Ingpen’s illustrations explore conservation issues and ways of keeping the world “sound, safe and sensible”.

Ingpen Conservation Title

Here are a few spreads from the book, showing how words accompanied by Ingpen’s masterfully designed illustrations communicate powerful messages on the world’s conservation needs in ways, which children can understand.

The illustration below called “Dodo bird first seen 1599, last seen 1681” accompanies the text on wild life protection. Its last statement concludes that “sometimes we make the wrong choice, or leave our choice too long and we lose something forever”…

Conservation Ingpen 2

The following picture called “Chemical warfare on pests” is a cleverly designed and I believe self-explanatory image (hat off to the aptness of Ingpen’s visual messages!)

Conservation Ingpen 1

St. George fighting the dragon below is an allegory of “having to make [conservation] choices: decisions between right and wrong, good and bad”.  The traditional image of the saint, as if transposed from an ancient icon painting, is juxtaposed with the modern-day airplane charging forward, symbolising past, present and future and the all-time relevance of conservation concerns.

Conservation Ingpen 3

The following picture is called “New butterfly and old instrument of navigation”…This one might potentially leave little readers (and older ones too) pondering the ideas it is meant to convey. My clue to reading this image was this: “The best of everything is always there if we know how to look for it”…  Readers are asked to think about what is important and worth preserving, whether it is “very old or very new, strangely complex or deceptively simple”.

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There are fourteen more spreads in this book exploring threats to humpback whales, benefits and dangers of nuclear power, the need for heritage conservation, preservation of wilderness and living resources and more. It ends with reproductions of several posters that Ingpen created for National Conservation Strategy of Australia, each focusing on an environmental area in need of protection: forests, wildlife, national parks, coastal dunes, mangroves, rivers. The last poster on alternative energy sources notes that “nature’s energy cannot be lost and the sun and winds and tides are always with us”…

Our children will evidently inherit the Earth, whose environmental well-being is seriously shaken. It would be up to them to continue our conservation efforts to save it for generations to come. That’s why I believe books like this one will stay relevant and be good to read to every child, read often and from a young age.

Robert Ingpen. The Passion for Conservation

Continuing on from the earlier two posts on Robert Ingpen this one is dedicated to his interest in conservation.

Prior to becoming a freelance illustrator, in the late 1950’s Ingpen worked for the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which has engaged him to interpret new findings to the public through design and illustration. Of that experience Ingpen says:

“…the CSIRO people enthralled me by the discipline of their thinking…The scientific discipline is so formidable a discipline for life that no artist should be without it”.¹

It was during those early years that Ingpen’s life-long passion for conservation has germinated. Michael Page notes that Ingpen became “scientifically aware” of the environmental and ecological threats a lot earlier than most of us and that “his activities have led him far more deeply into the very foundations of ecology than the average “conservationist” would ever dream of”

Ingpen was one of the founding members of Australian Conservation Foundation, has worked with the UN missions on their trips to Mexico and Peru and often brought the need for environmental care into focus through his work. He has illustrated some great Colin Thiele’s children’s books celebrating living harmoniously with one’s natural environment (“Storm Boy”, “River Murray Mary” and others), he has co-authored with Margaret Dunkle and illustrated the “Conservation” picture book sub-titled “A thoughtful way of explaining conservation to children”, created imaginary gnome-guardians caring for wild life and environment in his fantasy work “Australian Gnomes”…

Check back later for separate reviews of these and other children’s books on conservation and natural environment.

In conclusion and to wrap up the series of posts on Robert Ingpen’s persona here is what South Australian author Michael Page said about Ingpen’s “complete though complex personality”:

“This complexity is reflected in his ever-expanding versatility, based upon a great and diverse range of interests linked only by creative inspiration. At any given moment he is likely to be engaged upon projects as diverse as the illustrations for a book of verse, the planning of a Creative Activities Centre for Geelong College, the writing and illustrating of children’s book to follow up on his “Australian Gnomes”, the preliminary designs for a cheese factory to be opened on the Belarine Peninsula and the planning of a book to give new insights into Australian history. And these are only the things which he would actually tell you about. Behind them are many other projects and ideas still gestating, offers he is considering, thoughts he is formulating. There is a Leonardo-like scope to his abilities and interest and a startling blend of realism and surrealism in his solutions to problems”.³

Continue reading “Robert Ingpen. The Passion for Conservation”

Robert Ingpen. Unabridged Children’s Classics Books

Born in 1936, Robert Ingpen turns 80 this year, an age commonly associated with slowing down yet the amount of wonderful illustrations he was able to produce in the last decade is nothing short of astonishing. In early 2000’s Palazzo Editions, an English publisher based in Bath (UK), engaged him to illustrate series of unabridged children’s classics books. 13 of those titles are now in print, brilliantly and prolifically (with over 70 illustrations per title) illustrated by Ingpen. You can still find most of these in book shops around Australia or online at booktopia.com.au:

Currently Robert Ingpen works on illustrating the 14th title in the series, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (to be released in October 2016).

E.T.A. Hoffmann The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

(Palazzo Editions link to the book)

All books in the series include unabridged original texts. This is important as book market today abounds in abridged versions (where whole chapters or parts can be excluded) and re-telling (paraphrased and sometimes severely shortened versions of the original texts). I don’t believe in ‘making it more accessible for modern children’ argument often used to justify such modifications of classics. Instead I believe that children should be and are quite capable of enjoying and appreciating the authentic original authors’ texts when exposed to it at the right age.

Talking about production of the above Palazzo Editions volumes it is faultless: where applicable they include quality translations, books are printed on high quality paper and have attractive dust-jackets. The format (thick but less than A4 in size) is comfortable enough for the child’s hands and is great for the read-aloud sessions together. All-time favourite authors, richly illustrated texts and high quality production make this a great set of classics for any home library where it may serve several generation of readers.

Robert Ingpen: A Rebel Against Mediocrity

Ingpen in studio

Robert Ingpen’s friend Michael Page, a South Australian author, who collaborated with Ingpen producing a few books together, regards him as “…one of those rare figures on the modern artistic scene: a man with complete control of pure line and pure colour. He desires only to learn how to use them better, without diverting into impressionism or any other technique, which may camouflage an artist’s true ability”.¹

Robert Ingpen, however, refuses calling himself an “artist”, preferring the term “illustrator” which, as Page put it, “is an incredibly modest description”.¹ Page recalls a conversation with Robert about the conventional perception of an artist as “a rebel against conformity”; a perception, which Ingpen’s ordered life and representational artistic style grounded in studies of classical drawing, didn’t quite fit. To this Ingpen is said to have replied: “But I am a rebel. A rebel against mediocrity”.²

An award-winning illustrator, story-teller, designer, passionate conservation supporter, still illustrating today at the age of 80, Robert Ingpen and his creative life are an inspiration. Over a 100 books he has chosen to work on throughout his career add up to a library in its own right ranging from unabridged classics illustrated over the last decade to fairy tales, rhymes, fiction, historic and scientific texts and last but not least his own fantasy stories. Watch out for separate posts on these books in the near future.

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Continue reading “Robert Ingpen: A Rebel Against Mediocrity”

Book Illustrations: Art or Craft?

Two watercolours of exquisite beauty, by Turner and Blake, which have been commissioned and executed to illustrate books are brought into focus below. These watercolours were shown at “The Greats” exhibition (that had just finished showing at the Art Gallery of NSW) alongside the grand works by such masters as Leonardo, Botticelli, Titian, Rembrandt, Gaugin, Seurat, Monet.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Bell Rock Lighthouse, 1819.
Watercolour and gouache with scraping out on paper, 30.6 x 45.5 cm.             © National Galleries of Scotland.

Turner LIghthouse (1)

The engraving of Turner’s watercolour above appeared as the frontispiece to “Account of the Bell Rock Lighthouse” book, written by Robert Stevenson in 1824. Charlotte Topsfiled, the senior curator for prints and drawings of National Gallery of Scotland notes that “Stevenson’s text includes a vivid description of a storm he had witnessed on Bell Rock, which Turner must have drawn upon for this superbly dramatic scene”.¹ Illustrating has played significant role in Turner’s career as his services were in great demand and well paid for.

William Blake, God writing upon the tables of the Covenant, c.1805.
Ink and watercolour over pencil and some sketching with a stylus on paper, 41.9 x 34.2 cm. © National Galleries of Scotland.

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William Blake was a poet, a philosopher, a painter as well as an illustrator and printmaker. The above watercolour is part of over 80 works illustrating the Bible, which have been commissioned in 1799 by Thomas Butt. Blake was paid a regular stipend for producing these works.² Other Blake’s book illustrations, including many for the Bible, can be viewed at www.blakearchive.org (a comprehensive online resource for Blake studies).

The inclusion of the above two illustrations in an exhibition at a major Gallery, accompanied by exhibition labels and catalogue entries, presents these as ‘art’. Yet many of our contemporary art historians and artists consider illustrating as mere craft… Which way it is seems to be a matter of opinion and personal perceptions…

Robert Ingpen said this about his practice:

My art boils down to this: You can choose to be an artist and fly away with your creativity, or to be an illustrator and surround yourself with craft. You cannot be both. The great American illustrator N. C. Wyeth once wrote that “the artistic powers of an illustrator spring from the same source as do the powers of the painter; but the profound difference lies in the fact that the illustrator submits his inspiration to a definite end; the painter carries his into infinitude. Therefore, the work of the illustrator resolves itself into craft”

As a collector of children’s book illustrations, often exposed to originals, I like to lift them out of the context they illustrate. I see the individual style, the color, the line work, the composition… “The Greats” exhibition encouraged this kind of appreciation of Turner’s and Blake’s watercolors, why don’t we do the same justice to many a great illustrations created nowadays?..

Continue reading “Book Illustrations: Art or Craft?”