Friday, 1 February 2013

Regardez les Buvards!

I can't quite believe that its taken me so long to address the subject of the Buvard. The what?.... Let me explique - Buvard roughly translates from the French as blotter. From what I can gather buvards were publicity items which were made available in the bars and cafes of France. They originate from the days when everyone used a fountain pen and therefore would need something with which to blot. They sit nicely in scale between the ginormous posters and tiny matchbox designs of which I am so fond. The work of some of what are regarded as some of the great French poster artists of the 1950s, 60s and 70s can sometimes be found on them. I'm talking about artists like Raymond Savignac, Herve Morvan, Leo Kouper, Lefor Openo and although there is quite a large amount of dross, there's also some real gems. A lot were screen printed which makes them even more like little works of art. Here's some I particularly like.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Going to the Zoo

Firstly, apologies for lack of blog action lately, no excuses really - various family stuff going on then my computer died so that had to be replaced . But every cloud has a silver lining ...Have been playing with a few bits and pieces including the letterpress app that I mentioned several posts ago. I will try and post a few results of my experiments with that at some point. Anyway enough ramblings... I am sure you would much rather feast your eyes upon this. Its a guide to London Zoo from days gone by and I thought the illustrations were great.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Cat Thief

I can't quite remember if I found this book at a jumble sale, or car boot. Its called "The Cat Thief" and its illustrated by William Stobbs. (Written by Joan Cass.) To be honest, I'd never heard of William Stobbs, but if you do a quick bit of research you'll discover that in the 1950s, 60s and 70s he was a prolific and well respected illustrator who even won the prestigious Kate Greenaway medal back in 1959 for another title, "Kashtanka and a Bundle of Ballads". He also taught at Maidstone and the London College of Printing. Its seems to be harder and harder these days to find quality items at boot sales and the like, but I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled for more William Stobbs. I'd particularly like to find "The Little White Hen" or  "The Adventures of The Wuffle".

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Bubble Houses

One of my favourite TV programmes when I was a child was Barbapapa. And one of the best things about Barbapapa was the self-build Barbapapa house that they built after the squat they were living in got demolished. Anyone else remember that? I would have loved one of those houses then and still would, truth be told, but it wouldn't go down well with the planners,or so I'm led to believe.

Whist looking on t'internet the other day for cheapo accommodation in France I stumbled across this place - not particularly cheapo, mind you. Its called museumotel and its near Strasbourg.

Surely the Barbas must have had a hand in the design of this place! I'd love to go and stay here. Since finding this one, I've researched a few other bubble houses , the most famous is probably Palais Bulles. Think Barbapapa meets James Bond!

Friday, 6 January 2012

What a Racket!

Well , Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a good time over the festive period. So its 2012, the year that London hosts the Olympics which is just about a good enough excuse in my book to post these rather attractive sporty stamps from yesteryear ( 1977, to be precise). Can you spot the odd one out?.... well I'm going to tell you - its squash which isn't in fact an Olympic sport, for reasons I can never really fathom. I wouldn't describe myself as someone who is all that sporty but at this time of the year the common theme is health and fitness. I do play a bit of racketball regularly which is a kind of squash lite and try and do a bit of running and swimming. I'm probably the odd one out round here as I haven't completed a marathon or done a mega swim. Anyway, I liked these stamps at the time and still do. I think they've stood the test of time pretty well - they look almost contemporary. Maybe one day they will put squash in the Olympics - in the meantime we can all look forward to next summer and settling down to watch the Greco-Roman wrestling!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Veg Out!

Here's a sneak preview of the endpapers of the children's book I've been working on. Its called "Grandpa's Garden" and it will be out in the spring. I will of course remind everyone to rush out to the bookshop when it comes out! In the meantime, get down to your allotments and dig for victory!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Pictures by Chinese Children

If I asked children at primary school to draw me a picture I think I’d probably get a few pirate ships, aliens or fluffy kittens. If you’d asked the same thing in 1970s China you might have got rather different results. How about a nice drawing of “Peasant Uncles delivering grain to the State"
or perhaps this picture entitled “Lets all criticize Lin Piao and Confucius.”

Maybe I should ask the kids to do me picture of the Euro Zone debt crisis... could be interesting! I picked up this book from a charity shop and it’s a catalogue from a 1970s exhibition of Chinese childrens art. The images are a remarkable documentation of life in China at that time. The political propaganda is very evident throughout, and it’s quite amusing to look at it now as it is so extreme it comes across as, well, a little bit bonkers. The bottom picture has the title "We sing "The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is Fine." Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." There is of course a more serious aspect to all that brainwashing, but I don’t want to get too heavy. Some of the pictures actually makes me question whether they were by children at all, because although they are admittedly done in a na├»ve style ,they have a sophistication that seems far more adult. I suppose in a country as large as China you would get your fair share of prodigies. Maybe the whole thing is part of the propaganda. I’m not sure it really ultimately matters to me though, as I like them for what they are regardless of the age of the person who did them.