Friday, 25 June 2010

Illustration mini-series (Pt.4) :: Joyce Lankester Brisley

Today’s post was a toss-up between two very different illustrators. Or two-and-a-bit, but I’ll get to that later. My alternate was Quentin Blake, who surely can’t be overly familiar with being pipped to the post, but I’ve omitted him in the hope he might inspire a full-sized C+P challenge at some point in the future. (He did once inspire me to make a dead rat from an old pair of socks, but that’s also a story for another time.)
Joyce Lankester Brisley was probably the first illustrator to win my heart. I learned to read when I was four and, not long after, began devouring early-readers, like My Naughty Little Sister and Milly Molly Mandy. I loved the black and white illustrations in both, but it was Joyce Lankester Brisley's line-drawings in the latter that charmed me most. I especially adored the village map which appeared on the endpapers of each book, and don’t doubt for a minute that its why I’m so fond of maps – especially hand-drawn ones – to this day. The stories were very old-fashioned, but then so was I, and although I'm not certain they stand up quite as well today, the illustrations are still wonderful.In my head – which ploughed through an awful lot of books as a child – the drawings are also intrinsically linked to those of Ruth Gervis.

Their styles are only vaguely similar, admittedly, but it’s the simplicity and – again – vintage charm that I think links the two. Those above, in case you don’t recognise them, are from Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes (Ruth Gervis was her older sister).

My original copy of Ballet Shoes was very literally read to bits when I was younger, and a kind friend recently bought me a replacement. Much too loathe to part with the pieces, I've got them set aside, ready to frame the illustrated pages so I can enjoy them on a daily basis.

If you've ever done similar, or have any picture-book art hanging in your home, you know I'd love to hear about it. Spill the beans in the comments below.




Tina Burke said...

I loved Milly Molly Mandy too! I don't have my old copies (I wish I did!), but did buy a gorgeous 2 box set a couple of years ago purely for nostalgic reasons :) I always loved those illustrations AND the map too!

The stories are definitely quite old fashioned in setting and characters - and writing style - but what I did (and still do) love about the stories is the way they are so firmly and cozily set in a child's world - where little day-to-day events and play are really what make up a child's whole existence, and everything is so absorbing and newsworthy: camping overnight in the side yard, going to a birthday party, a first-ever trip to the seaside, putting on a play for the neighbours, making a gift (I always loved the one where she made a tea-cosy out of scraps of fabric and ribbons :) ... all relatively mundane subject matter, but it's that quiet way the author spotlighted the simple joys of "real life" (from a child's view) that made these so charming and engrossing for me. And the illustrations are gorgeous!

Sian said...

We love Milly Molly Mandy here :) I even had a little dark haired daughter so I could cut her hair into a little bob and dress her in stripes lol. And every time we have baked potatoes we scoop out the insides and then put it back in again just like MMM. Thanks for the peek at the pictures this morning.

Sarah said...

Oh how I'd forgotten the delights of MMM (I too learned to read v young, and soaked everything up like a sponge). And like Sian, I loved the spud trick too. Why oh why must the series end here? I shall have to continue alone. Thanks for the nostalgia trip.

Carmen said...

Can't you just so see those images as rubber stamps?

Loved all these - they remind me of some of the illustrations in Enid Blyton books - was that either of these two? I'll have to go raid the girls shelves and look now!

I don't have it any more, got lost in one of my many moves but I did once have a picture cut from Diana annual. Blimey - remember those? It was only small and it was from one of the comic strip type stories. The face of a woman - I just loved everything about it and tried recreating it myself in sketch form (THAT I do still have) In fact I then went on to create other pictures with this same woman in. Hmm. That actually sounds quite bad - obsessed much? :P But I just remember being blown away by whoever had drawn this woman and loving this image so much.

the green gal said...

This series has been so interesting to read but boy, have you grabbed me with this post! I LOVE Milly Molly Mandy, as a child it was one of my favourite books and only last month I found my old copy in a box of books in my mum's attic. Now you've put the idea in my head of finding a print of the map to put on my wall, I pored over that map for hours, learning where everyone lived, where the adventures happened. I have even named some of my products after Milly Molly Mandy characters! Ah, didn't you just love it when her family made a bedroom for her and she thought it was for the pots of jam…

RosieBird said...

I love Milly Molly Mandy - this brought back some wonderful memories.

As to picture book art, I used to work for a wonderful Children's Publisher (Barefoot Books) and their illustrations were really breathtaking. I have endless postcards and marketing literature up on my walls from my time there.

Nicoletta Ceccoli, Alison Jay,
Steve Adams and Niamh Sharkey are some of my favourites. But I also have submissions that were sent in but didn't quite make it and had no postage to be sent back. Some of these I loved so much I just had to keep for myself and now they adorn my wall. Su Waterman is a huge favourite of mine, and I really hope she's still illustrating and has found a publisher for her work!

Becky said...

Oh, I loved MMM too and love these illustrations.

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