Illustration - Summer 2009 - Issue 20

It’s said that at times of trouble people retreat into fantasy worlds, so maybe it’s the global economic woes that have prompted us to turn to the parallel universes of fantasy classics such as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and the turbo-charged alter egos that inhabit computer games. Or perhaps it’s just that fantasy has always been fertile ground for imaginative illustration and the past few years have seen a welcome return from the hard-edged realism of the 1980s and early 1990s. Either way, David Jones, who wrote and painted his way through the darkest days of the 1930s and 1940s would probably have welcomed this swing back . His modern take on romantic and mythological subjects fell out of favour and his posthumous 
reputation has suffered as a result. We hope that our brief exploration of his art brings him to the attention of those who may have overlooked him in the past and inspires them to go on and find out more. 
At the same time, we’re seeing a renewed appreciation of craft and individually made items. Barbara Jones, champion of folk arts, would surely have approved . As would Alexandra Exter, who started out as a Russian Futurist but ended up in France producing manuscripts full of fine calligraphy and illuminations . These two artists were very different, yet each in their own way cherished the tradition of the artist’s hand directly creating work. This tradition is close to the heart of Ornan Rotem, founder of Sylph Editions, who uses the latest technology to produce books that highlight the physical skills of the artists and writers behind them. But you do not need to be a great artist to work with your hands – the new generation of illustrated fabrics and toy kits should help anyone to go out and make things that are both useful and beautiful. There may be a recession, but make do and mend has never been more attractive.

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