Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ladybird by Design

Things to Make, 1963, G. Robinson. (c) Ladybird Books Ltd, 1963
Things to Make, 1963, G. Robinson. © Ladybird Books Ltd, 1963

Like the many thousands of British children who, like me, grew up reading Ladybird Books in the 1970s—and the decade either side of this—can doubtless recall a certain fascination with at least one Ladybird title. For me it was the beautifully realistic and slightly unnerving illustrations by Robert Lumley for The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Like many Ladybird titles the illustrations were engrossing. They were images to be pored over, and as such many remain as indelible memories.

Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion is exhibiting  ‘Ladybird by Design’. Containing some 200 original artworks the exhibition is a testament to Ladybird’s commitment to publishing illustrations of the highest quality; images that would help with learning by being both descriptive and well made. They are realistic yet somehow convey so much more than any photograph might. Yes, the content often depicted a somewhat idealised view of the world, and it is easy to criticise some of the content for being being middle class and for having very gender specified roles, but judging by the stream of visitors that I have seen on my visits the exhibition it’s easy to see that these books are held in firm affection by the nation. Of course, I say that with some bias as one of the many who associates these books with part of my childhood. Seeing these illustrations again, and in the context of having trained as an illustrator and now teaching the graphic arts made me appreciate these wonderful books and their images more than ever. It perhaps also suggests that illustration, often viewed as a lower art form, can rival the interest generated by many ‘fine’ art collections. The exhibition runs until May 10th.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

What’s the Story?

My partner has co-authored a book, and I have been working on the covers. The book is about the workings of artist printmakers, and as covers for most arts books go, it is perhaps a fairly unusual solution for a book containing such striking pieces of art. Initially it was suggested that an image on the cover was required, but the the client wanted a ‘pure’ appearance. I was concerned that the book might look too much look like an academic title without, but the idea is that further titles will be produced, each sporting a vibrant colour, so as to form a readily identifiable series.


It’s a great read; a book that I believe would be of interest to those with a passing interest in printmaking, through to those who are experienced practitioners. The book is formed of illustrated commentaries from artists, curators and gallery owners, each talking about their own experiences within the field of printmaking.

The contributors include:
Amanda Averillo, Mychael Barratt RE, Dawn Cole,Brenda Hartill RE,Katherine Jones,Frank Kiely RE, Marina Kim, Anita Klein PPRE, Hon. RWS,Toni Martina RE, Trevor Price RE, Bryan Poole RE, Ali Stump and Will Taylor SGFA

For further information go to or Pure ArtsThe book can also be ordered from Amazon