26 April, 2007

How I wish this book was one of ours! . . . 4

This book, being a straightforward trade children's book is a different thing completely from the special and wonderful books I have included before in this mini-series but anyone who has read our Bibliography or heard us speak will know much I love it and how strongly it influenced my decades as a book builder.

I see that it was published in the year I was born and I was given my copy quite soon afterwards. It was certainly a book that was read to me so that my eyes and my imagination were able to range freely across the landscapes on these pages and how much I loved doing that. I was captivated by the warmth and humour of the black and white drawings but I suppose it must have been unconsciously that I so valued the great areas of white space within them which added so much to their power rather than the reverse.

I was always especially fascinated by the great "O" on the initial page. I can vividly remember, without being able to explain it, my childish delight and love of this great sculptural shape which seemed to stand both as part of the line of text but also as part of the landscape - so drawing them together, I suppose.

This is not the place to recount the story in detail. If you have come across Ferdinand, you will know it off by heart and, if you have not, I can only hope that you can find a copy for yourselves. Suffice to say that Ferdinand is a little bull in Spain. In his field there are other child and adolescent bulls who love to rag around and fight each other and dream of being chosen for the bull-fight in Madrid. Ferdinand did not have any desire for this sort of behaviour but spent his time sitting under his favourite cork tree 'just smelling the flowers'.

At a very early age I realized that I WAS Ferdinand . . . going off by myself rather than rushing round with the others! That was the other reason for my love of this book but, for the moment I would just like to offer you some more of these incomparable drawings.

When the talent scouts arrive, Ferdinand goes off to his tree but unfortunately sits on a bee and is stung into great snortings and leapings about. The talent scouts immediately think he is the strongest and fiercest bull of all . . .

In the bull-ring, all the matadors and the picadors and so on march proudly round . . .

. . . and he ends up happily under his cork tree! Bliss.

I end with the wonderful endpaper drawing. This is the Spain that I have always looked for and how we laughed every time at the linguistic naughtiness of 'hot dogos' and 'chocolate baros'!

16 April, 2007

A Flowery Mead

Our mower is bust at the moment!

I hate to imagine how Autumn will bring sharp brambles to our upstairs windows as we two Sleeping Beauties are finally lost to the jungle all around . . . but, for the moment, the Spring has great charms to offer. Lady's Smock and Celandine, Bugle and Violet . . . a veritable flowery mead.

What a lovely phrase that is! It makes me think of Shakespeare and Spenser, the mediaeval garden . . . either the real thing or Pre-Raphaelite versions.

But, in the context of the present day, I immediately think of the paintings of our friend Clive Hicks-Jenkins. So often, if a bit of ground has to be depicted in one of his rich works, it is elevated to the status of a delicious 'flowery mead'. Here is one - a tiny detail from a large painting in acrylics and I happen to know that he is working on another at this very moment, in an even larger work which will be the centrepiece of his exhibition, later this year, at MOMA, Wales. I will be sure to give further details of this nearer the time.

For the moment, though, I would advocate a visit HERE, in a hunt for more flowery meads and so much more. The site is a lavish presentation of Clive's paintings and drawings . . . together, of course, with the books he has made with us!

15 April, 2007

Nd'A and God

We were unable to get to this launch, sadly, but I take this opportunity to urge anyone who has not yet seen this wonderful book to mend the situation asap!

Natalie d'Arbeloff's enterprise with The Old Stile Press has been mentioned on this Blog, together with images of the amazing one-off artist's book we had from her some time ago, but all that is just a drop in the ocean!

An exploratory trip to her website (see link) will undoubtably lead to regular return visits BUT, for now, I urge you to find out more about the entirely life-enhancing "The God Interviews" by going HERE.

14 April, 2007

Only there for a moment . . .

This photograph happens to bring together a number of things I like . . . especially paintings and photography and light and theatricality and recognizing that I must rush to do something (eg get my camera) NOW, or a moment will be lost for ever.

A painting by Michael Ayrton (a study for an enormous mural for the Festival of Britain) sat on an easel by the window. A glance showed that light was pouring in and the window itself was reflected in the picture glass together with part of a sculpture, by complete chance also by Michael Ayrton, which was on the other side of the room.

Happily, I think, I DID run for my camera!

06 April, 2007

An image for Good Friday

We have not been church-goers for many years but early memories are very powerful and the richness of Christian iconography, architecture, church music, painting and so on is extremely powerful. Of the piles of CDs in my printing office (see earlier photograph!) a high proportion are of church music.

Many years ago I found this piece of wood and hung it on an (outside) wall of our house - thinking that it looked quite like a dancer, or an angel or even . . .

As the years of rain and wind have lashed around in the courtyard in which the piece of wood hangs, it seems to have been changed, has become more stark. The soft tissues of the wood have washed or rotted away leaving the hard remains. It was always a lovely object but the passage of time has refined it, I feel, into something very special.

Welcome Blessed Spring.

As I was clicking the buttons for the greeting below, I suddenly remembered a similar year whose winter had (for me) not been up to much and the fact that I had produced the above as an act of rejoicement . . . using some wood letter that I had unearthed and as a first experiment of having more than one colour on the roller at the same time.

Happy Arrival of Spring!

. . . to anyone on this side of the globe, and commiserations to anyone who isn't!

03 April, 2007

Mozart and the Stone

This is a first experiment - after ages of frustration as described below!

If you go here, you can see it full-screen which is much better but you have to let it load sufficiently otherwise it stutters and breaks up.

With grateful acknowledgement and utter awe to Mozart.

Dedicated to Natalie d'Arbeloff, without whom . . .

Well, that was such fun . . . I must do another one!

02 April, 2007

April Moon's Fool

Someone told me that, if you cut a round hole in some blue-black material, draw a bit of a horizon line on it and put it up behind something in the foreground like a tree, it would photograph just like a full-moon coming up. Well, I tried and tried and got nowhere fast so . . . I went outside and photographed the real thing!

Sorry but that is the best I can do! We were so self-absorbed that neither of us even realized it was April 1st yesterday until the evening!

I have been indulging in much displacement activity recently. What I am avoiding is irrelevant. More to the point is that most of the time is going, going, gone at the computer . . . where I am seriously trying to come to terms with such undiscovered lands as iDVD, iMovie and suchlike and HOW on earth can one uplift an utterly brilliant and amazing little slideshow to blip.tv (or anywhere else, come to that) so that YOU can see it!! I sat in the sun all this morning reading manuals and STILL cannot get the thing to work!

And I just know you are all quite unable to settle to your lives for waiting for it . . .

Sorry, again. This joke has gone far enough as well . . .

It's just the fact that we discover that this BLOG is already being read IN FOUR CONTINENTS. It has rather gone to my head . . .

Anyone out there in Africa??