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.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Ivan Chermayeff: ‘Cut and Paste’ at the De La Warr Pavillion

Chermayeff_DLWP

One of the most cheerful and playful exhibitions I’ve been to this year has to that of Ivan Chermayeff: Cut and Paste, currently at the De La Warr Pavillion in Sussex. Charmayeff, founding member of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, is a designer of international repute, and has maintained a lengthy and prolific career. He is known particularly for his logo designs that include, among many, Mobil, National Geographic and NBC. Whilst this exhibition contains some of Chermayeff’s commercial work, the exhibition, as the title suggests, is a collection of his personal works that mostly consist of collage together with some calligraphic works. These works demonstrate the bright and witty thinking that one might associate with a successful designer.

The collages are seemingly made of whatever the artist has to hand, be it envelopes, postage stamps, coloured card and other found materials to form fresh and engaging pieces. I’m a big fan of this type of work and I also love the work of the late Alan Fletcher who was also a master of creating similar, quick witted and intelligent collages. I also like these as I think they are a great way of both relaxing, having fun and problem solving at the same time. It appears to be a good time for collage becoming highly visible. Last year I saw the incredible works of Kurt Schwitters, and earlier this year the powerful collages of MatisseIt’s great to feel inspired, but it wasn’t only me that felt that way. To the end of the exhibition hall there was an area for having a go at making your own collages, and my 7 year old sons did a grand job rising to the challenge, as can be seen below. Future Charmayeff’s in the making, perhaps?!

Many of Charmayeff’s collages have been collated in this book titled ‘Suspects, Smokers, Soldiers and Salesladies’, published by Lars Müller. (There are images of Chermayeff’s work in this link.)

The exhibition ends 14th September 2014

Bones1

Bones2 S_Bones

A_Bones