Wednesday, 7 May 2014

ILLUSTRIOUS ILLUSTRATIONS


So what is it all about...?

Any regular reader of this blog will know that I have a number of favourite illustrators – some of whom I am proud to call my friends. One such is John Vernon Lord (left: self-portrait, aged 22), a prolific illustrator who (like several of my favourite illustrators, past and present) has an astonishing capacity for creating pictures of the most amazing detail and complexity...

Over the years, John has used his unique gift for pen-craft to embellish an eclectic slice of literature from Aesop's fables, the Icelandic sagas and the Arthurian legends sagas to the nonsense worlds of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll...


...not to mention his classic children's book, The Giant Jam Sandwich, which has been in print now for over forty years...


April and May 2014 are turning into a positive John Vernon Ward-fest as two new books hit the bookshops.

Last month saw the publication of Drawn to Drawing, an elegantly produced volume containing a wealth of previously unpublished material from the artist's sketchbooks and diaries, along with memoirs from Lord himself.

This essential chapter in the history of twentieth (and twenty-first!) century illustration offers an insight into the life and working practices of a master draughtsman is, as the publisher declares (without risk of being charged with hyperbole), "a must for any illustration fan". As you can see here...






The singular delight of this collection are the reproduction pages from John's notebooks and diaries that he fills with microscopically detailed sketches and doodles that demonstrate the discipline and penmanship of the miniaturist. You can see here just how small these consummate creations are...


And here are a few of those pages to marvel at...





Drawn to Drawing has an introduction by Posy Simmonds who writes:[John Vernon Lord]  draws words and writes pictures. He is a draughtsman of philosophical reflection… He is not the only illustrator who works from black line, but he is one of the few who uses it with such virtuosity..."

The book also contains a tribute from Raymond (The Snowman) Briggs and (I am proud and  honoured to say) myself. I can't express my admiration for John better than I expressed in the pages of this book...
A book of drawing by John Vernon Lord is more than just the work of a master draughtsman, it is house filled with windows onto worlds where the commonplace becomes suddenly extraordinary and the bizarre and the inexplicable seem surprisingly familiar
An artist of impeccable skill, he can create pen and ink designs filling the page with a staggering complexity of detail that recall the engraver’s craft or, by turn, execute elaborate dances of form and space that reveal him as a supreme choreographer of the drawing board that is his stage.
 You can order a copy of Drawn to Drawing here

Copies can also be purchased from The Illustration Cupboard, where original art and signed books by John Vernon Lord – and many other illustrators – can be viewed and bought. For details click here 

One of John's illustrations exhibited at The Illustration Cupboard is for James Joyce's Ulysses...


...which conveniently leads to mention John's latest illustrative project  a new edition of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, published by The Folio Society and launched this evening at a meeting of Imaginative Book Illustration Society to be held at the Art Workers' Guild in London.

Finnegan's Wake, which took the author seventeen years to complete, is full of puzzles and paradoxes, tricks and deceits, illusions and allusions. Which is why John set himself to understand the depths of this demanding text and to then embody in his illustrations cues and clues to Joyce's narrative.

Here are some examples of John's stunning visual interpretation...


 



You can read more about John Vernon Lord's illustrations to James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake here, and you'll find lots of examples of John's illustrative work regularly posted on his blogspot


And I'll end this long – but, I hope you'll agree, amazingly illustrated – post with a photo of John and I, last year, signing copies of our books to one another...


8 comments:

Unknown said...

Brian,
I was lucky enough to have John V L as my personal tutor at Brighton Art College in the mid 1960s. That of course was a complete joy, he opened my eyes and ears to so much. Nobody else surely could have tackled illustrating Finnegan's Wake? A lovely tribute on your blog and of course thoroughly deserved. Only sorry to have missed the AWG talk but it wss an important anniversary and a dinner.
All Best
Ian

Brian Sibley said...

Another of my favourite artists! Thanks, Ian! :)

Val , Kate, The Cute Kitten ,Razzy, Kepsey,Darwin ,Charon and Echo. said...

A fascinating introduction to some amazingly intricate work...I think you could spend a long time looking at these and still see more next time.

btw you keep appearing in unexpected places as I explore the entertainment on the web (Spring has finally arrived here and I broke my ankle ..darn and 'tarnation)..on the radio A 100 years of Mervyn Peake ..most enjoyable thank you, and on youtube in PL Travers the Real Mary Poppins, very interesting so Many Thanks :0)

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Oh yeah, he designed Deep Purple's second album cover! I remember that!

SharonM said...

Fascinating blog and drawings.

Which Deep Purple album was it, Christopher?

Brian Sibley said...

It was The Book of Taliesyn, 1968.

To see the album cover on JVL's website and read an account of how he came to make the design, click here

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Thanks for the link Brian! First saw it from a cheap cassette tape release of the album that had to shrink down that lovely artwork to fit on the cassette cover (this was some no-name company that acted like it had the rights to Deep Purple's first three albums they released under budgeted labels at many stores). The cover was used for the US "Tetragrammaton" release but the printed colors were never quite accurate and re-issues of that album often blurred it considerably.

SharonM said...

Thanks for the link - it's a fabulous cover, though not one I have in my (modest) collection of albums.