Welcome to my new blog; where you'll be able to follow my journey being part of The Lightbox Gallery's, new children's book retrospective, Escape To Wonderland. 7 Aug-2 Jan '11. Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions. Prints of my work will be made available. And you can also book me for workshops and talks.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week.

It's Banned Books Week; a week in aid of highlighting the ubiquitous and ignorant censorship of books.

These are books that contain; sex, drugs, weaponry, homosexuality, genitalia Etc.- even in an educational context. But the banned list also includes; Sausages, sandwiches, hedgehogs, double-decker buses (American children won't know what they are, so better not include them rather than arouse curiosity) nipples (even on a gorilla- see Lynne Chapman's blog) and facial expressions (it's prefered a picture book gives out unrealistic or mixed-messages than shows anyone angry, sad or scared), anything occult (Bye, bye, Harry!) danger (pots on stoves, children anywhere near stoves... in fact, we know it's a kitchen and the book's about cooking, but perhaps we could leave the stove out altogether...?!)

Some of you may have read about this in UK press. Articles such as this BBC report are well-meaning but completely misinformed when they say 'There is a battle being fought in America over books.' I see you all reading that and looking slightly smug. If I didn't know better, I would be too.

Here, Anne Rooney's brilliant article highlights how this oversea's battle affects UK authors/illustrators and every single UK child. We may not think we're censoring our children's reading over here, but by Golly we are. And the decision to censor has been made long before teachers or parents have even caught a whiff of the books.

As well as slowly maiming our authors and illustrators imagination, I believe this level of taboo limits a child's opportunities to imagine and question. As Albert Einstein said,

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

He also said,

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

So, take a look here for Banned Book event idea's. You'll never know all the ways that the picture books on UK shelves have been altered/neutered (!) in order to be released, but to show your solidarity, simply have a read of some of the banned fiction texts. You can find a few of them here. 'James and the Giant Peach,' anyone?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Play the Game with Me- 15 Artists in 15 Minutes

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen Artists who've influenced you and will ALWAYS STICK WITH YOU. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what artists my friends choose..."

‎1. Egon Schiele
2. Stasys Eidrigevicius
3. Eric Fortune
4. Heath Robinson
5. Peter Cross...
6. Rackham
7. Tenniel
8. Ronald Searle
9. Chris Riddell
10. kathe kollwitz
11. Maurice Sendak
12. Egon Schiele (again!) The man was a genius.
13. Dave McKean

Ooh, surprisingly, getting really stuck now...

14. Brian Froud
15. Wayne Anderson

The picture I've used is a piece by William Heath Robinson. An exhibition of his work will run concurrently alongside Escape To Wonderland at The Lightbox, from December. His work was obviously made for print, however I've seen it in the flesh before, and it really is an experience not to be missed. There's a subtlety to his work that comes to life and starts to walk off the page. I can't wait.

Besides Heath Robinson, there are 5 other artists from my list exhibited at Escape To Wonderland. I'll let you find out which ones they are- I'm hoping The Lightbox might work it's way through my other 9 artists over time!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Private View Piccies!

Trying not to let on I've had half a bottle of wine.

The beautiful Lady Emma of Hachette.

The scrumptious John Huddy on the left, and the thoroughly delectable Alexis Deacon on the right. Quite like the way this pic kind of mirrors the ones taken with the kids from the launch!

The less said, the better!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Private View

It's 5.33 in the morning. And no, I have not 'just got in!' I'm a very good girl and was back at a decent hour, but I just can't sleep. I find there's quite a lot of adrenaline involved in book events, strange as it may seem. I was so wired last night even an hour spent watching the hugely scintillating Mr Katie Price on telly (not quite sure what had done to inflict that awfulness upon myself) could see me through a good night's sleep.

The evening started off early and yet slightly awry. I had done that marvellous thing where you realise there's a possibility that despite all your careful planning you're actually going to be late... so you panic and run in circles, Benny Hill stylee... which in turn ENSURES you're late. I located my keys, found my boots, forgot I'd found my keys and spent a pleasant 15 mins hunting for any sign of them in the laundry basket. I hope the acrid whiff of socks did not cling to all my conversations all night. I shall never know for sure.

Whilst in the murky depths of the basket, I frantically picked past the mahussive spider that's taken up residence in there. I am slightly unclear as to why my boyfriend and I go through this merry dance each time we do the washing. We both know the spider's in there, and yet neither of us can quite see fit to give him his marching orders. He's getting so huge I sort of feel I could send him out to get a job soon. Perhaps we'll keep him until his first paycheck comes in.

Anyway, I eventually I made it out the door to meet my little miracle-worker; Hachette's, Emma Swabey. Weirdly, Emma and I were sporting matching cricks in our necks. Conversation was conducted at strange angles all evening, heads-cocked like Jurassic Park raptors. I'm sure it made for an odd photo to say the least. We staggered to the nearest pub for a quick drink before the event.... for medicinal purposes only, mind.

It was lovely to catch up and hear a little of what's been going on at Hodder HQ of late. We planned the bookshop we've decided to start up. Our business plan so far consists of a Fisher Price cash register and getting a shop cat and dog to man the store on weekends. I'm thinking our idea might be just slightly on the fictional side... and I don't mean book-wise.

Finally we headed over to The Lightbox (late for that as well, having gotten gassing and lost track of time- idiots that we are). It was great to be back there but poor Emma had spent a few hours the previous day there too so I think she was a little weary.

We introduced ourselves to Alexis Deacon, author/illustrator of Beegu amongst other books, and that was exciting enough to perk both of us up. He seems very much like his work; quiet, witty, and strong-minded. And we also chatted to the marvellous John Huddy, of The Illustration Cupboard; responsible for providing much of the artwork on display. I'm full of respect for what they both do for the industry. Both darned fine chaps too, to be sure. Alexis got a little silly with some of the book props (well you would, wouldn't you?), so John and I read him a bedtime story to calm him down. (pics to follow!) It was, by this time, getting on.

We didn't have much chance to catch up with The Lightbox folk as time seemed to shrink away but it was good to see them all the same. Apparently the exhibition's been doing really well and attracting lots of visitors. Hooray!

In November the exhibition will be getting a festive face-lift too for Christmas. Special Yuletide illustrations will be added into the mix and there'll be a feast of events to match- keep an eye on the website, as some of the newly arranged events won't be in the programme. And in December they'll be running a Heath Robinson exhibition alongside it too. Even more reason for you to to visit and even re-visit, Boys and Girls.

And guess what? There were so many people about that I STILL haven't seen the whole show!!!