Saturday, 27 April 2013

Tower Bridge and its exhibition of This is London by Miroslav Sasek

I promised more about Tower Bridge in my last post so here it is.
Several of us children's authors and illustrators from CWISL were lucky enough to be invited to the opening to an exhibition of  Miroslav Sasek's 1959 children's book, THIS IS LONDON in an exceptional site - the top of Tower Bridge.

When I first moved to the East End I spotted this mosaic view of Tower Bridge on a school near me.

Next time I crossed Tower Bridge I was on my bike, and had to wait for the road to sink back to a horizontal, after a ship passed underneath it.

Waiting  by the north tower, for Tower Bridge road to right itself.

I never dreamed that a year or so later I'd be inside it, high up on one of the Walkways looking over the Thames across London as dusk descended (sorry about the bad photos but it gives an idea!)

Hard to imagine the Tower Bridge Walkways were once open to the sky,
and a place for illicit rendez-vous.
Now there are screens upon screens to view inside and out, 
including enlargened panels of Sasek's THIS IS LONDON.

Sasek is one of my favourite illustrators.  I'm so glad his books from the 1950s and 60s have been reprinted the past few years.   He has a rare gift for bottling the visual essence of a city and its people, and avoiding cliché.  The work is beautifully measured across the white of the spreads -  minimal, sharp and funny.

I had hoped to see original paintings here - but learnt they were dispersed or lost after his death.  If anyone knows where one is, please let me know!  You can see more illustrations and find out more about the mysterious Sasek here.

In any case, it was an interesting display.  
It's hard to give a proper sense of it so see it for yourself if you can.  
The Sasek exhibition is on for a long while and Tower Bridge is open every day.
Bring kids and/or sketching gear and a better camera than mine!

There's a large map of the covers of all the books Sasek illustrated across the world.

On my way down I saw where I'd waited on my bike for Tower Bridge road to come down.
Hard to imagine this road lifting!

Tower Bridge shining behind Thames barges near Wapping 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Varoom from Nobrow's Flying Eye to Bayard's Tralalire

March went by fast, as a harsh east wind blew over London. Where to start?
Well I've just finished the tweaks of the tweaks, adapting an old project of mine from the Draw Along Tales for Bayard's Tralalire magazine to come out this summer for kids to 'participate' in with 4 felt pens.  These are the almost finals on my wall at my home studio.
Nearly the final version of my draw-along Trois Petits Cochons for Bayard's Tralalire

Final tweak was to remove the belt on the straw-sucking, lazy little pig (yellow) and turned him into a hoodie!

I came up with the Draw Along Tales for play on paper and screen,  just before a spate of family illness after late 2008.  When I looked up again a year or more later, after my ma's funeral and all, I found that Nosy Crow came out with their first app of the Three Little Piggies so my draw-inside version stayed inside my drawer. My idea had actually come from another pun - "draw the curtains quick!"
©Bridget Strevens-Marzo roughs for Draw Along Tales - 3 Little Piggies.
But nowhere's room for even more versions of tales in the App and doodle book worlds.
So ahem - if you're a serious publisher interested in seeing more of my Draw Along Tales project I and my agent at Hen & Ink are all ears!

My intention for the Draw Along Tales is to be usefully rough, to give kids the open-endedness to intervene and complete the story with all kinds of mark-making.
So interesting that Viv Schwartz  talks about being "usefully awkward"

 in my first 'report' as contributing editor for Children's Books for Varoom.  Thanks to Derek Brazell for inviting me to be part of this cool and interesting quarterly about illustration big and small!
Illustration Rules in the AoI's latest VAROOM! 
Hope I helped as a small cog to help spin the wheels of Flying Eye, the innovative comic book publisher Nobrow's new and exciting children's book imprint.
(I think it's hopeful and significant that publishers historically from opposite ends of the children's editorial spectrum, Nobrow and Usborne were the only UK publishers showing and networking at the paradise for children's imagery and illustration full stop, of the 2012 French Children's Book Fair in Montreuil, Paris

Yet another March writing job and another honour.  I was invited to be the first featured illustrator for the new, daily updated online magazine for children's publishing people, Words & Pictures.  It took me a ridiculous amount of time to put together but I've let the cat out of my overladen bag, and shown some work I did in a previous life.

But it's not been all about work.  Just had the most wonderful time looking at one of my favourite 1950s illustrators on the top of Tower Bridge but it deserves it's own post.  Coming next!