Monday, May 07, 2007

Willard Price: The Illustrations

A word should be said about the illustrations for these Cape editions of the series. All fourteen books were illustrated by Pat Marriott, a prolific illustrator for Cape perhaps best known for the cover of Ian Fleming’s Dr No. The illustrations are very much ‘of their time’ but there is something in them which goes beyond the particular style (which was very much in vogue in children’s books throughout the period of publication) and demonstrates a real artistic mind working underneath. In the hardback editions many of these illustrations were presented across double pages with no text at all and this ostentatious way of presenting them combined with the scribbly, rough-looking style takes some of them almost into the realm of abstraction.

2 comments:

clixchix said...

In the 1990s when I began exhibiting as a painter, my first one man show was at the Kilvert Gallery, Clyro. Lizzie Organ, who ran the Kilvert, was a friend of Pat Marriott's, and decided to mount an exhibition of the artist's illustrations. I remember the show as a revelation, full of such delights as various original cover paintings Marriot had done for Joan Aiken's novels, including Black Hearts Over Battersea. The gallery was jam packed with lovely pen and ink vignettes from the series, which I recognised from my own battered and much loved paperback copies. She was often compared to Edward Ardizonne, but in fact her work was both the equal of his, yet quite unique, with her own delightful, densely cross-hatched yet feathery penmanship magically conjuring entire worlds to illuminate the texts. To my regret, I didn't purchase anything. I was pretty broke at the time, and I recall thinking that I'd come back on a quieter day to talk to Lizzie about paying for something in stages. To my enormous regret, I never did.

Twice I've missed such an opportunity to acquire iconic illustrations. When in my twenties I was touring the provinces in a play, and early one Sunday morning... this was either in Exeter or York... I was rambling about exploring the place, when I came across a tiny, slightly abandoned looking commercial art gallery. Closed of course. In the window was a solitary, dusty item: the framed gouache painting done for the paperback cover of Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. (I don't know what the original hardback artwork was.) I returned over and over again that week in the hope of finding the place open, but it never was. What a missed opportunity!

Clive

clixchix said...

In the 1990s when I began exhibiting as a painter, my first one man show was at the Kilvert Gallery, Clyro. Lizzie Organ, who ran the Kilvert, was a friend of Pat Marriott's, and decided to mount an exhibition of the artist's illustrations. I remember the show as a revelation, full of such delights as various original cover paintings Marriot had done for Joan Aiken's novels, including Black Hearts Over Battersea. The gallery was jam packed with lovely pen and ink vignettes from the series, which I recognised from my own battered and much loved paperback copies. She was often compared to Edward Ardizonne, but in fact her work was both the equal of his, yet quite unique, with her own delightful, densely cross-hatched yet feathery penmanship magically conjuring entire worlds to illuminate the texts. To my regret, I didn't purchase anything. I was pretty broke at the time, and I recall thinking that I'd come back on a quieter day to talk to Lizzie about paying for something in stages. To my enormous regret, I never did.

Twice I've missed such an opportunity to acquire iconic illustrations. When in my twenties I was touring the provices in a play, and early one Sunday morning... this was either in Exeter or York... I was rambling about exploring the place, when I came across a tiny, slightly abandoned looking commercial art gallery. Closed of course. In the window was a solitary, dusty item: the framed gouache painting done for the paperback cover of Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. (I don't know what the original hardback artwork was.) I returned over and over again that week in the hope of finding the place open, but it never was. What a missed opportunity!

Clive

 
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