Illustration - Winter 2013 - Issue 38
If you like your stories to start with “It was a dark and stormy night…” then this winter in the UK has lived up to all expectations. The only good side to this (as long as you’re not actually flooded) is that it gives you the chance to wrap yourself up in a blanket and read books by a roaring fire. And what better to read than fairy tales? If dark and sinister tales suit your mood then you could choose David Hockney’s exquisitely nuanced version of the tales of the Brothers Grimm or drown yourself in period detail in Roberto Innocenti’s beautifully crafted A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker. Those of a more light-hearted disposition could turn to the modern fairy tales of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, illustrated with weird and wonderful creatures by Paul Kidby, or take a look at Kidby’s new book of fairies, gnomes and other fantastic folk. Dorothea Braby, meanwhile, developed a novel new approach to illustrating folk legends in her intricate designs for The Mabinogion and The Saga of Llywarch the Old for the Golden Cockerel Press.
If, however, the long dark nights have lost their allure and you are tired of wondering when the landscape will dry out and return to “normal” then you may prefer to study the illustrations created for the Recording Britain project during the war and enjoy a nostalgic journey through views and scenes mostly long gone but preserved forever by this unique scheme (page 8). Gardeners viewing their sodden gardens and waterlogged lawns may derive some comfort from the gorgeous blooms that flower eternally in the RHS Lindley Library’s collection – a source of inspiration for next summer as well as an interesting history lesson about botanical art and artists. Or, of course, you could get up and leave your sofa and venture out to the many illustration-related exhibitions currently displaying many of these and other works. Just don’t forget your umbrella.