Joy unbounded! Delight unrestrained!
Just received: Ian Beck's recently published The Light in Suburbia.
Having followed Ian's year-long, week-on-week sharing of these paintings on his always lively and engaging Facebook page, to now have and revisit these glorious presentations of light and colour (or, sometimes, the absence of colour) in book-form has provided a journey of re-discovery. For, from the book's elegantly written introduction we are provided with the reason why and how Ian began making these potent, emotionally-charged images.
For so many of us the Covid-19 lock-down – with its vacant streets and timeless atmosphere and with the empty skies reclaimed from the drone of aircraft by the song of birds – released long-locked-away memories of our youth.
For Ian, after an extraordinary and hugely successful career as one of our great national illustrators (over a hundred books and counting), lock-down gave him the opportunity and insight to re-view the 'ordinary' world of his everyday dog-walks with an artist's-eye sensibility, capturing the 'extraordinary' in what, at other times might pass for the commonplace. Infused with recollections of his childhood and his early days as a student of the craft of which he is such a master, he found a new source of creative inspiration; as he says: 'I noticed clearly and tried to record the beauty around me in the unprepossessing every day.'
This record of such perceived beauty – elusive but for the imposed mindfulness of a pandemic – takes on a year-long journey, season-by-season, not across stunning natural landscapes, but along the streets, back gardens (with, sometimes, interior glimpses behind kitchen windows) of a London suburb where the natural world and human habitation tolerantly co-exist: tree-lined streets of semi-detached 1920s villas – variegated with the odd startlingly-rigid modernist house – illuminated by the pale sunlight of spring, the blaze of summer, the weakening glow of autumn or the pellucid light of street-lamp and moonshine.
Although Ian thanks his social media followers for their enthusiasm and encouragement, I wonder if he is fully aware just how very much his artist's journey through lock-down helped the rest of us carry the heavy burdens of what has been, without doubt, the strangest of years.
Now, the record of that journey, in the form of this book, will go on transforming the vision of day-to-day things and places for anyone who turns its pages...