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Chiu-i Wu Engaging Sculpture

January 11, 2021

I came across the work of Chiu-i Wu about six months ago and have marvelled at her stunning work ever since.

Beautiful, curvacious lines and peaceful, delicate features.

They have an air of calm that makes me feel quite restful.

Almost an inner calm.

And then… there are her beasts and ceramic creatures ! Grrrrreat !

I can almost hear them playfully growling lol

Prices start around £50 for small pieces up to £2500 for larger sculptures.

Chiu-i  also paints. They also look a little dream-like or perhaps places to escape to.

Wouldn’t these animals look wonderful snuffling around in your garden ?

I love these wonderful creatures. More pieces to make us all smile, that’s what we need. What says you readers ? : )

Who Done It ? A Mid-century Wallpaper Mystery

January 4, 2021

Good morning to one and all and welcome to the new improved 2021. We can but hope !

I want to start the new year with a wonderful test for someone’s memory. A reader from the USA got in touch last week to ask if the mural wallpaper she recently discovered in her 1950’s home, could have been the work of Bernice Myers from my last post.

After looking at the photos here that she sent me, I don’t think it is, largely because the rendering of the faces and feet are very different to those of Bernice’s work. But I agree that the style is similar and it was a popular trend in the 1950’s to draw in this way.

Which leaves us with a dilema, who’s work is it and also which company printed such wonderful murals onto wallpaper ? If anyone has anything similar in their home, knows who may have created this masterpiece or has any photos of similar wallpapers then please let us know. The good news is that, this will be her son’s room and he loves the mural, so it will be staying ! YAY !

Great news for a retro start to the new year. Happy January everyone 🙂

Bernice Myers Christmas Special

December 21, 2020

Hello everyone and welcome to my final post of 2020, what a crazy year hey ! I sincerely hope this finds you well and looking forward to a happy festive break.

I have a wonderful treat for you today and a post that I have been saving up for this very moment. Any regular readers to my blog will know that I am not just a big fan of 50’s and 60’s illustration, but also of the opportunity to introduce, promote and showcase artists who have been mid-century greats and may nowadays be unknown to a more contemporary audience. Today it is the turn of the wonderful, Bernice Myers !! (hearing a fanfare in my head), whom I’ve mentioned previously here and here.

Initially I wasn’t certain that Bernice would care to take part, as I had messaged her four years ago to see if she would answer some questions, but at that point she had politely declined.

Bernice is not only a wonderful mid-century illustrator, but believe it or not, she has just written her latest book at the age of 95 ! and has a back catalogue of over 100 volumes to date. Her editor Grace contacted me to tell me of her latest book ‘Dog Meets Dog’ and then fortunately her son Marc got in touch, and it was with his help, I was able to ask his mum some carefully chosen questions and this post was possible.

Marc told me that basically “She’ll respond if the questions are good” and as we say the rest is history!  Phew lol !

Hi Bernice, many, many thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. I initially created my blog in order to show a contemporary audience the work of artists who’s work perhaps isn’t still in print and very little is known about them, their life, their struggles to find work or just how living in different time periods had it’s own share of problems or benefits that a modern audience may be unaware of. I want to tell people each illustrators story so that we may better appreciate the people behind the work that we have grown up with (and in your case) are probably still reading to our grand children today.

Could you please tell me your background story, i.e. where you grew up, what memories you have of becoming an artist. How you started as an illustrator, what life was like working as a female illustrator when you started, how hard was it to find work, how did you first get ‘discovered’ as an artist. Memories/ funny tales of working for the different publishers etc.

I was born in the Inwood section of Manhattan in 1925. My father, Leo, traveled often to Europe as a costume-jewelry designer and salesman. But those trips ended in the early ‘30s as Europe grew increasingly dangerous with the rise of Nazi Germany. My family managed to survive the Depression. I had a sister who was many years my senior, and my parents were older and weary, so growing up was relatively lonely. I began to draw at an early age, a talent that grew once I began to work in New York’s garment district as a fashion sketcher and model during World War II. Back then, families without means couldn’t afford to send their kids to college, and loans for education weren’t widely available. Only returning veterans on the G.I. Bill were able to get a free college education. So for most of us, you went to work right after high school.

When the war ended, I landed a job at Columbia Pictures in New York in the photostat department. Which meant I was responsible for having photostats made of artwork created by the art department of movie stars for display at theaters in support of upcoming movies. In those days, the movie studios were in Los Angeles, but the business of promoting their films (and recording the scores) often were done in New York. At Columbia, I met my husband, Lou Myers, who was a portraitist in the art department. He had been a war artist in the Navy and portrait painter. After the war, he used that talent to draw and paint actors’ likenesses for theater posters. After we married in 1947, we began taking on children’s-book illustration work together. For a brief time, we received double-billing. My career as a children’s book illustrator began in 1949. One of the first children’s books with my name alone was for “It’s a Secret” (Wonder Book), by Benjamin Brewster. It was published in 1950. “Billy and His Steam Roller” (Wonder/1951), “Mr. Shortsleeves’ Great Big Store” (See Saw/1952), “Bunny Button” (Whitman/1953) and “Peter Picket Pin” (Whitman/1953) followed, among others.

Then Lou and I went off to Europe to hitchhike in the early 1950s and moved to Paris in early 1954. We both illustrated children’s books there for French publishers (among other things) before returning to New York in 1956, where my first son, Marc, was born. After my second son, Danny, was born in 1959, my career grew steadily in the ‘60s as children’s books became easier to print as paperbacks. Schools were provided with book lists and ordering forms for students, and the public education system began to view children’s books as an important part of their curriculum for grade school.

Did you ever look to anyone for inspiration or was your style purely your own?

No one specifically, but I always wanted to stand out. Lou taught me that. If your drawings had a special look, you’d be in demand, especially if you had an eye for design. I’ve always loved children and believed that what was most important in books was the feel of illustrations. I wanted mine to connect with children on an emotional level, not as realistic or photographic illustration. To achieve my feel, I embraced a graphic simplicity that gave children illustrations that were on their level. I left enough space for their imaginations to kick in and for them to identify with what they saw. In other words, by thinking like a child I was able to communicate like one.

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Do you enjoy working in any one style, above others, or in a particular medium, paint, collage more textural for example ? Does it help to have more than one style to be more versatile in the publishing industry ? I notice, for example, that the style you used for the science based books, ( the “All Around’ series) of textures, strong outlines, few colours, is very different from the more animal based books you’ve drawn. (The Pear Shaped Hill, Olivier etc) which is also different from the more cartoony Bears series. Perhaps you created different looks for different subjects as you felt was appropriate to that area of interest, making science books more straight forward and simplistic and the animal stories more colourful and well rounded, to appeal to a younger audience.

I did not consciously set out to project one style or another, nor did I shift styles for different subject matter. The “All Around” series forced me to envision how I was going to fit everything necessary on a single page or spread. In other words, I had to develop a strong sense of art direction before drawing so that each cover and spread inside was animated with action and delivered a high fun factor. The subject matter—space, water, earth and so on—demanded an active, “cool” approach. Sympathetic to children’s short attention spans, I knew that they would have to be pulled and engaged by my drawings if we expected them to read and absorb the material. My other books instinctively felt like they needed texture or graphic drama, again, to command the attention of young minds. My adversary was distraction, so I consciously worked to make sure that what I drew was more interesting than TV, cereal boxes and comic books. What else could I do?

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Can you remember what your brief on a book would have been like in the 50’s/ 60’s. Were you given a copy of the text and told to ‘sketch around it’ or did you have ideas of your own for the books , or perhaps worked closely with each different author and took some guidance from them?

Publishers knew I had a strong sense of art direction, so they’d simply send along a manuscript and then turn me loose, so to speak. I was urged to “do my thing” and come up with solutions that were bold and active, in a child’s vernacular. My work was known for leaving children mental blanks to fill in. I found that children don’t need or want lots of detail. They look for engagement and whimsy, something that makes them laugh. When that happens, they sense a friend and identify with the characters and the story. At least in my experience.

During your career were you working mostly as a freelance artist or were you employed by one publishing house at one time ?

I worked as a freelance writer and illustrator, but a number of publishing houses used me often because sales of my books were strong. These publishers included Scholastic, McGraw-Hill and Four Winds among others.

At any time during your career, did you feel that being a female artist either a hindrance or a benefit. I think of the “MadMen” era in particular and hear stories of how badly women were treated or what they were expected to put up with in order to get work.

I didn’t find bias during the 1950s and beyond. Then again, I worked mostly at home, and my editors were mostly women. At first, I worked with my husband on book illustrations. But in a very short period of time, I could handle the work myself, and many women worked in the children’s book market then. It was like the maternity ward of publishing. Where the challenges existed were on the home front. My husband was very successful as a cartoonist and pioneered his thick-line style in print advertising work before the wide use of photography in the 1970s. His style was so well known, he was among the first who was encouraged to include his oversized signature, which was a big deal in commercial advertising.

As a result, we both worked seven days a week to complete the large amount of work that came our way. Up until 1969, we lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. So in addition to writing and illustrating more than 100 books, I had to raise Marc and Danny—meaning I had to make sure they did their schoolwork, had breakfast lunch and dinner, took them to stores for clothes, etc. I also was expected to shop for food, cook dinner, help Lou get his work out, and deal with our house once we moved north of New York in 1969. I didn’t mind. I always had a lot of drive and energy. But looking back, I have no idea how I managed.

My children’s-book work was relentless, but for my husband and me, work wasn’t work. It was who we were. We both loved seeing our work in print. There was a great sense of accomplishment. As all authors know, the joy of opening a box of newly published books is rewarding, and you instantly forget the hard work that went into those books. Just watching my kids’ faces as they realized their mother had written and illustrated those books was worth it.

Below.. a magazine painting by Bernice for a Fashion spread.

Two books of yours that I really admire are Off into Space and My first book of Weather. The illustrations are simplistic but both endearing and engaging. Do you have a favourite book from your own extensive library of books you have illustrated, and what makes it special for you ?

Thank you for your kind words. I don’t look at my books the way you do. In other words, you delight in elements that came naturally and magically to me. I didn’t think about them that way at the time. They were problems that needed solving. So favoring one book over another, for me, is often a question of how much of a struggle went into creating it and whether I enjoyed the process. But to your point, I am proud of the science series because there were many hurdles to leap to make them come together neatly and excite children. The same with the Space book. The layout choices, the images and the color choices all come together well and they remain remarkable. They still deliver a visual bang, don’t you think?

Yes I do.

Do you have any idea how many books you have had published to date ? Now at the wonderful age of 95, what are your biggest challenges in creating new books ? Obviously you are still working because you enjoy the work which is fabulous. If you hadn’t been an artist was there ever a different career path that might have taken your fancy ?

More than 100 books. One day Marc will create a site for me (nudge, nudge) and we’ll know for sure. The biggest challenge with my most recent book after many years in retirement was relearning how to turn my story into graphic ideas and then into finished color prints for submission. I had to track down professional color markers and bleed-proof paper—all things that are relics, since everything is done on the computer today. Fortunately, the materials I once used were still stocked at Blick Art Supplies.

Can you describe a typical day for you when you are working on a book? Does the process get easier the more that you create or is it still a challenge ?

It’s always a bigger challenge at 95. Should the dog look left or right? Should his tail wag or stay still? Hills in the background or not? A moon? Is my work any good? Will children get my humor or are they too sophisticated now? I went through a lot of paper trying to figure it all out. The process takes longer now, but my passion is still there as is my sense of humor and love of the adolescent spirit. But it’s definitely much more difficult, since emotions move faster than brainpower.

What advice would you give to a young artist who would love to follow in your footsteps today?

Observe how children play and note what makes them laugh. Don’t try to please them. Instead, speak their language with illustrations, include humor and leave room for their mental participation. That’s so important. Children are always smarter and more intuitive than we think. They’re naturally honest and kind and “get” things faster than adults. That’s because they are emotional first and think second. My kind of audience.

Many many thanks to Bernice for her incredibly lucid and inspirational answers. I applaud both your work and attitude, alogside the fact that you are still creating now. It shows that the need for talented artists never goes away and that many generations of readers, can appreciate and ‘adopt’ your work, as if it belonged only to themselves. What a lady !  Thank you also to Marc for making this post happen at all, what an inspirational role model you grew up with. I bet you can tell a good story too : )

So that was my last post and a bit of a SCOOP if I do say so myself. A Happy Christmas and festive break to all my readers. I will be taking a couple of weeks off to recharge myself, so let’s catch up in 2021 and hope that it’s a year of calm, better direction and a posititvity that seemed to escape us in 2020.

Please leave a comment below and you can follow me here and over on Instagram here at Fishinkblog, where I sell most of my ceramics.

Until I ‘see’ you next, all the very best and thanks as ever for reading, Craig x

Daphne Padden All together

December 14, 2020

Hello everyone, I hope this finds you well, on this last but one post for 2020. I have decided to bring together two back posts on the work of mid century illustrator Daphne Padden.

Portrait of Daphne Padden (above) painted by her father. British Artist Daphne Padden was born on 21st May 1927, the daughter of Percy Padden who was also an travel poster illustrator working in the 20’s and 30’s.

Her strongest work (in my mind) is the work she created from the late 50’s to the mid 70’s, working for M&S, Trust House Forte,the Post Office Savings Bank, British European Airways and most famously the British Transport Commission, and in particular the Royal Blue Coach Services.

 

 

 

During the late 70’s she changed direction and became a fine artist, painting in a completely different style altogether, sadly she passed away in September of last year. Thanks to the fantastic Quad RoyalAlison and Amy for the great images and for helping to keep amazing artists such as Daphne remembered in the public eye.

As a great update to this post, one kind Fishink blog reader Aiden. shared a miniature he has of Daphne’s work. So interesting to see her range of styles. Thanks Aiden.

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Then in 2017 this happened.

It was way back in 2010 that I first wrote about the advertising work of Daphne Padden. Through that post, Rosemary got in touch who has been organising an exhibition of Daphne’s fine art work. These were available to purchase through the Lincoln Joyce Gallery. She very kindly agreed to let me use the images and info on that site to share with you as an update on Daphne’s later work.

Daphne Padden was educated at Rosebery Grammar School in Epsom and attended the Epsom & Ewell School of Art. After college she became a freelance designer, producing posters and publicity material for the British Transport Commission, the Post Office Savings Bank, the British Diabetic Society, ROSPA, P&O, Trust House Forte and British European Airways. In 1976 she took up painting “for Art’s sake” working in watercolour where her delicate touch in both line and colour gave all her paintings a whimsical feel. Whether it is her studies of wildlife or landscape, the viewers’ eye is always drawn to the natural balance and extraordinary detail that Daphne achieves.

The Padden family originated in County Mayo in Ireland who in the mid 19th Century moved to Wolverhampton in the Midlands working in the iron industries. John Padden from County Mayo came to Wolverhampton where he had 7 children including James Padden , Daphne’s grandfather. James married a local girl Florence Crook from Wednesbury and they had two boys and a girl Percy, Sidney and Lilian Mary.

Daphne’s father was Percy Padden who studied at Wolverhampton College of Art and became an Art Master. He was discharged from the Army as unfit after enlisting in October 1917. Discharged on 27th December 1917 in London where he remained, trained at the Royal College of Art and he went on to become one of the foremost poster designers of the early 20th Century. Percy worked for the Post Office producing sumptuous works advertising cruises on Mail Boats.

In the First Wold War the family was subject to a scare when Percy’s cousin Thomas Bernard Padden who had joined up, was posted and formed part of the expeditionary force into France. Thomas was gassed and reported “missing” in April 1918. It was his wife Maud Padden (nee Browning) who wrote to the military to say he was alive as she had had a card from him to that effect. He survived the war but died shortly after in 1925 having had two children Gwendoline and Clifford.

A Padden marriage in 1917 caused a rift in the family due to religious differences, very prevalent in those days. This left part of their family estranged and isolated. It may have been unconnected or due to a clerical error but in late 1917 Percy listed his religion as Church of England in his Army papers, clearly an error as the family was Catholic. This was certainly not known to his cousin John Padden and his family who were isolated by the rest of the Padden family for his marriage to a Protestant, Leah Bradley.  Percy married Marie Kate Bateman in Lambeth in 1924.

Daphne was born in Lambeth. She studied art and design under her father at Epsom and Ewell School of Art. Working for British Transport Commission, the Post Office Savings Bank, the British Diabetic Society, ROSPA, P&O, Trust House Forte and British European Airways.She was one of our gallery artists.

Daphne was always a very gracious lady, she undervalued her work and was always modest about her achievements which were considerable. She did not drive and always traveled distances by bus.

Little more is known about Daphne but she was elected a member of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers in 1984. Her work is exhibited in galleries throughout the South East and London. I hope this helps in showing her and her work in their correct place in art history.

She has a wonderful sense of style and a great command of both watercolour techniques and landscapes. It’s wonderful to see such a change in style, from her work bold, blocked colour layouts for adverts in the fifties and sixties.

You might be surprised to discover that some of these pieces are miniatures, measuring just a couple of inches. Thanks again to Rosemary for letting us all appreciate Daphne’s stunning paintings, and for also fitting another piece into the jigsaw of her life and work.

More links to Daphne’s advertising work on Allison’s Flickr set here and over at Quad Royal here.

I have a real treat for you next Monday, a world exclusive in fact as I have managed to secure a rare interview with the legendary Illustrator Bernice Myers, who is still working now in her nineties ! Don’t miss it, it is a great read !

Ladybird Books and Charles Tunniliffe

December 7, 2020

Hello to Monday.

Like thousands of other children, I grew up with Ladybird books around me. I didn’t collect them, however, like many others I knew (and boy did kids like to collect things when I was growing up !) but I do remember going into ‘Bookland’ (my local book shop) and being confronted with a wall of Ladybird titles. It was quite literally (and visually) overwhelming !

So recently, I happened across a couple of cheap, possible first edition copies, of two familiar titles I remember owning as a child. Part of the ‘What to look for in… (Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer)’ series. Looking through them as an adult, I remember how beautifully the painted pages were, and I quickly re-associated with these familiar scenes from nature and my youth. What I failed to realise, until I started putting this post together, was that the artist Charles Tunnicliffe, was a name I already had on my bookshelf. These are some of his illustrations for Ladybird books.

Charles Tunnicliffe was born in 1901 in Langley, Macclesfield, England. He spent his early years living on the farm at Sutton, where he saw much wildlife. In 1916 he began to study at the Macclesfield School of Art, and later went on to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London.

He married in 1929 at the Methodist Church, Whalley Range, Manchester, to Winifred Wonnacott, a fellow art student. In 1947 he moved from Manchester to a house called “Shorelands” at Malltraeth, on the estuary of the Afon Cefni on Anglesey, where he lived until his death in 1979.

He worked in several media, including watercolor painting, etching and aquatint, wood engraving, woodcut, scraperboard (sometimes called scratchboard), and oil painting.  Much of his work depicted birds in their natural settings and other naturalistic scenes. His work was also used to illustrate Brooke Bond tea cards and as a result was seen by millions of young people in the United Kingdom during the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Charles’s work was characterised by its precision and accuracy, but also by the way in which he was able to portray birds as they were seen in nature rather than as stiff scientific studies.

From March 1953, he painted many of the cover illustrations for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’s (RSPB) magazine Bird Notes, and several for the later Birds magazines.  At his death, much of his personal collection of work was bequeathed to Anglesey council on the condition that it was housed together and made available for public viewing. This body of work can now be seen at Oriel Ynys Môn (The Anglesey Gallery) near Llangefni.

His work shows such care and attention to detail, that you can’t help but be drawn into each scene, noticing more and more information as the eye works it’s way around the painting.

Charles also created the wood engravings too.

Here’s the other two covers in the series (below) and the only other ladybird book I owned (above).

And this was the book I had on my shelf already, without realising it was the same artist. Such amazing detailed and dedicated work.

Charles also received much recognition for his work on Henry Williamson’s children’s book ‘ Tarka the Otter’ in 1932.

He created many studies for Tarka, the main character.

Beautifully observed watery scenes.

He spent days just observing and creating observational paintings, which were often life-size studies !

Can’t you just feel the frost on this branch below. At least 250 books used Charles’s illustrations on the cover and inside.

Ladybird books had their beginnings in 1915, although the company traces its origins to 1867, when Henry Wills opened a bookshop in Loughborough, Leicestershire. Within a decade he progressed to printing and publishing guidebooks and street directories. He was joined by William Hepworth in 1904, and the company traded as Wills & Hepworth.

By August 1915, Wills & Hepworth had published their first children’s books, under the Ladybird imprint. From the start, the company was identified by a ladybird logo, at first with open wings, but eventually changed to the more familiar closed-wing ladybird in the late 1950’s. The ladybird logo has since undergone several redesigns, the latest of which was launched in 2006.

Wills & Hepworth began trading as Ladybird Books in 1971 as a direct result of the brand recognition that their imprint had achieved in Britain. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the company’s Key Words Reading Scheme (launched in 1964) was heavily used by British primary schools, using a reduced vocabulary to help children learn to read. This series of 36 small-format hardback books presented stereotyped models of British family life – the innocence of Peter and Jane at play, Mum the housewife, and Dad the breadwinner. Many of the illustrations in this series were by Harry Wingfield and Martin Aitchison.

The 1950s to the 1970s are widely considered to be Ladybird’s ‘golden age’. This period saw the post-war baby boomers come of age, creating a mass of new consumers who were open, confident and unrestrained. Ladybird books reflected this optimism with its forward-looking design and illustrations, which depicted a utopian vision of modern Britain.

In the 1960s, Ladybird produced the Learnabout series of non-fiction (informational) books, some of which were used by adults as well as children.

An independent company for much of its life, Ladybird Books became part of the Pearson Group in 1972. However, falling demand in the late 1990s led Pearson to fully merge Ladybird into its Penguin Books subsidiary in 1998, joining other household names in British children’s books such as Puffin Books, Dorling Kindersley, and Frederick Warne. The Ladybird offices and printing factory in Loughborough closed the same year, and much of the company’s archive of historic artwork was transferred to public collections.

Nowadays you can pick up a lovely retro print of a Ladybird book illustration from the company King & MCGAW.

I’ve been told that over 20,000 of the images from the books have been preserved in the world’s first permanent gallery devoted to Ladybird books at Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). The gallery has scores of titles shelved chronologically from 1961’s ‘Learning to read Numbers’ to current titles such as ‘Climate Change’ by the Prince of Wales. His book is one of the new range of “expert” titles for which the first new artwork in over 40 years was commissioned. A proof sheet shows how little the books changed once a standard was established to cope with wartime shortages, a single large sheet of paper printed on both sides gave 56 pages or text, illustrations, plus a cover.

In case you have had your head in the sand for the last year and haven’t noticed, there has been a range of Ladybird books for grown-ups, which use original Ladybird illustrations with up to date, dry humoured and witty, written commentary.

They have been runaway best sellers, earning an estimated £30m for Penguin.

The key illustrators of Ladybird books from that vintage period were: – Martin Aitchison, Robert Ayton, John Berry, John Kenney, B.H Robinson, Charles Tunnicliffe and H Wingfield, (some images of the illustrators exist here).

It is impossible to say exactly how many titles Ladybird Books has published over the past century as records before 1940 no longer exist. We do know that, between 1940 and 1980, Ladybird published a total of 63 different series, collectively containing 646 titles.  By 1990, the annual Ladybird catalogue listed over 600 titles still in print, with new titles being published at an average rate of 100 per year. Today, Ladybird continues to publish around 70 new titles every year.

Finally, and before you start asking me what your ladybird books are worth these days lol, I happened across a site that deals in rare and unusual Ladybird publications called The Wee Web.  They claim that the rarest book of them all to be ‘The Computer – How it Works’ (1971) – this is not the standard issue but rather a private publication that was especially produced for the Ministry of Defence in 1972. The M.O.D specifically asked for the book to be published in plain covers and without copyright information as not to embarrass their training staff !

Which titles do you remember and possibly still own ?

Many thanks to Wikipedia, Penguin Books and The Guardian for the information in this post. Please share this post with your friends and spread the word about Fishink Blog online, thank you for being a reader.

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Fishink Ceramics

December 2, 2020

Hello Everyone.

It’s midweek Wednesday here in the UK and I feel like I’m chasing my pervebial tail this week, with 101 jobs to do (well a few anyway lol). Hence the rather late blog post OOPS !

I wanted to share with you all the fact that I’m presently showing my latest collection of ceramic goodies over on Instagram under the name of @fishinkblog. You can find it my going here (www.instagram.com/fishinkblog). Some examples below.

I have a wealth of exciting ceramics, ready to be boxed up and shipped out to anywhere worldwide.

Prices starting from £10 to £50, so something for everyone’s pocket.

Please head over, give me a follow and have a good browse in my stories and on my feed and highlights and perhaps tell your friends about my work too. All recommendations are most welcome :).

I hope you like what you find.

Catch up with you all soon. Take care Craig

You can be sure of Shell

November 23, 2020

Fishinkblog 10127 Shell Oil 1

Good day everyone.

As a child my earliest associated memory of going for petrol, was always the free gift you would get for filling up at that service station. Different companies tried to outdo one another with the presents they would bestow on you for your custom. As an early artist, I particularly remember one company giving away felt tip pens. Each colour had a name and so you were encouraged to try and get the set. I always found it so exciting, going to choose the colour (or colours, depending how much fuel you had bought) after my dad had filled the car. It was a clever way to get loyalty and repeat custom and was possibly one of my first exposures of the power of advertising and consumerism !

Shell used postcards as an early form of advertising, beginning in the early 1900s. Postcards were a quick and easy way of sending messages before telephones became a popular commodity and postal deliveries could arrive several times a day. The popularity of postcards helped Shell increase their profile in Britain, reaching everyone including the non-motorists.

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The first Shell advertising poster was created in 1920. They were displayed on the side of lorries carrying fuel to customers all over the country. These adverts (or ‘Lorry Bills’ as they became known), were designed in reaction to the public outcry against roadside hoardings in the countryside.

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Foreign posters too and a whole range of topics and themes, not just centered around the more obvious choices of cars and transport.

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Of course there were still many classic posters produced using the more obvious themes too.

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But unusually Britain’s landmarks and a campaign showing the different types of people who use Shell, became very popular.

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I’m sure you’re relieved to know that Judges, Architects, Scientists and even Film Stars all use Shell.

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We’re told it’s even a ‘friend to the Farmer’, giving it that ‘good for the environment angle’.

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The most innovative designs were created around 1932, when Jack Beddington became responsible for the company’s advertising. Under his direction, artists were commissioned who weren’t necessarily associated with commercial art. These artists went on to become famous names in British contemporary art.  Among them were people like Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Vanessa Bell, Ben Nicholson and John Piper.

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There are over 7,000 posters in the Shell Art Collection, reflecting the charm and character of a nostalgic age of motoring.

Just imagine filling up here… : )

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The poster (below) depicting the family all ready for their holidays, is definitely my favourite.

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Which one is yours ? You can find out more about the Shell Posters by visiting the National Motor Museum website.

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Bob Wilvers… Up to Date

November 16, 2020

Morning Everyone and I hope this finds you well.

I’ve recently added to my old post on the artist Bob Wilvers from the 1960’s, so for those of you who didn’t follow me back in 2011, here’s a complete update. Enjoy !

Bob Wilvers was the art director for the Carl Ally agency in the early 1960’s when he developed a campaign for Salada Tea. The commercial featured little old ladies on large Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the tag line ….. ”Who says that Salada Tea is for little old ladies?”  There’s a link to a poor copy of the original ad here and another 3 amusing Salada Tea ads here.

In 1964, he became a founding partner and co-creative director at Jack Tinker & Partners, with a client roster that included Coca-Cola, Gillette and Alka-Seltzer Plus. He was an accomplished watercolor painter and illustrator whose work was featured in several galleries and museums. Apparently Milwaukee based Wilvers was just 24 when he painted these.

I received an email from Terry who had read my blog about the illustrator Bob Wilvers and for those of you who missed it (tut tut) you can catch up here. At the end of the article I asked if anyone knew of any more of Bob’s work could they let me know. Terry not only knew of his work, but had an illustration of his own and even sent a copy so that I could show you all.

Terry explains ” I found this WC in a very rural part of Indiana and it reminds me of an area in West Allis, Milwaukee which was a district of homes which were bars/pubs on the first floor, and homes/apartments above on second/third floors. The signature looks a little like “williams” but on the back printed in pencil was Bob Wilvers on an entry form to an art exhibit in Milwaukee, so I assume this was painted well before he moved to NYC. Bob thumb-tacked the paper to a board, you can see 6 white holes around the edges where the water flowed around.” Such wonderful work, again with such spirit and so well observed. I’m so grateful to Terry for sharing this beautiful piece of Wilmers’ art with us, thanks again Terry.

For those of you who are still following me, regarding  the story of Bob Wilvers, there is yet a further addition and a surprising happy ending.

After a reader of my blog sent me an image he had of Bobs’ work, I was suddenly gripped with an urge to see if there was indeed more images to be discovered. I was lucky to be able to track down Bobs’ daughters Roberta and Tracy, and they very kindly sent me some images of the pieces of their fathers’ work, that they had in their homes. Such beautiful work should be shared with many and I hope that by blogging here, we can all appreciate what an amazingly skilled artist he was.

Roberta informed me that ” The images that you have on your blog came from the Ford Times October 1956. It was an article that was written by my mom and illustrated by my dad. One of the attached images is also from that piece. The other images are from the August 1957 issue. The Ford Times had quite a few piecesof my dad’s work. They donated one of the them, ‘ Trinity Church ‘ to the Smithsonian in Washington DC. ”

I love the summery feel to his watercolours above and perhaps later images below where Bobs’ style has developed and flourished into new areas.

My favourites however are still his beautiful landscapes, with their rich colours and textures.

Sincere thanks again to both Roberta and Tracy for kindly allowing us access to the images above. Amazingly, I’ve just managed to find an online copy of the Ford Times magazine October 1956 for sale, which features some of Bobs’ work. So a little piece of Mr Wilvers will live in my home too.

Also many thanks to Marilyn for sending this image of two paintings of Bob’s that she saw an antique show approx 10-12 years ago in the booth of W M Schwind Jr Antiques of Yarmouth, ME. They were marked $3500 each.

Finally this week a reader called Richard contacted me with these two wonderful pieces. Apparently, Richard’s father told him that Bob painted these in his eighth grade, they have been hanging on his living room wall since he was a child. How lucky ! Thanks Richard for getting in touch and sharing those with us, much appreciated.

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If anyone has any links to more of Bob’s beautiful illustrations could they please let me know.

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Marian Mahler Mid century textiles

November 9, 2020

Hi !

I thought that it’s a while since I have said hello to everyone reading my posts. Hey what a strange and varied time we are in !

I hope this finds you all well and that you are discovering some simple things to inspire and interest you. For myself I think it is all about keeping myself active, engaged and present, even when I have to spend copious amount of hours indoors or at home. Please feel free to peruse the back issues of posts on my site, they go back over the last ten years and there are over 1200 of them for you to read, look at and hopefully loose yourselves in. Do let me know if you find a connection in one or more of them and I hope you find them inspirational and engaging.

Also just to let you know, that I will be taking part in this weekend’s #postablepopup in conjunction with @curatedmakers on Instagram. To find my page type @fishinkblog into the search function on IG or go direct to www.instagram.com/fishinkblog and you can view what’s for sale starting Saturday 14th Nov at 10am UK time through til 5pm Sunday 15th November.

Remember to shop small and support small businesses this year more than ever. We all need to put our savings into shopping small and keeping those creative tiny companies alive and well or come next year, they may no longer be around. Take a look from my stories and feed what I have available for sale and I can ship my work to anywhere worldwide, even direct to your chosen recipient ! Follow me today @fishinklog.

So.. onto today’s creative artist.

Marian Mahler (1911-1983) Austrian born had trained at the Kuntgewerbeschule in Vienna  (1929-32) and at the Royal State Academy, with some of her early designs being produced by the Wiener Werkstatte.

She arrived in Britain in 1937 as Marianne Mahler and worked as a free-lance designer,  having supplied leading firms with her designs before the war.

During the early 1950’s she produced many designs for Allan Walton Textiles, Edinburgh Weavers, Donald Brothers Ltd. and Helios.

Her best client was David Whitehead in his ‘Contemporary Prints’ range. Whitehead’s were Britain’s most dynamic printed textile company, based in Rawtenstall, Lancashire. By 1948 the company was directed by architect Dr John Murray, whose ambition was to establish the Company in the forefront of contemporary design and to make good designs available on the mass market.

He wrote an article on his philosophy The cheap need not be cheap and nasty which was published in Design , Dec 1950. Twenty of their designs were chosen to be displayed at the Festival of Britain and on the SS Campania, the touring ship of the festival.

She also created a few book covers for Penguin books too.

Lovely work and a great influence on British fabrics during the 50’s and 60’s. If you liked this post you will also be interested in the one on Lucienne Day and Barbara Brown.

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Taisto Kaasinen

November 2, 2020

Taisto Kaasinen (1918–1980) was one of Finland’s leading ceramic artists in the 20th century.

He was the son of Viljam Kaasinen and from 1941 married to Airi Lija Valtonen. Kaasinen first studied art on his own and then privately for Erkki Koponen and Uuno Eskola . He was trained as a ceramicist at the Arabia factory 1946-1952 and was employed as a ceramic artist at Upsala-Ekeby in 1952. He returned to Arabia in 1961 where he has his own studio in the art department. He participated in the exhibition Artium Exposé in Gothenburg in 1953 and in several exhibitions in Uppsala.

He was part of the Nordic tradition aiming for warm-hearted, humorous, and sometimes subtly ironic design.

My favourite piece is this cat, such a great character.

He became a prominent designer of animal and people figurines with rounded shapes and kind expressions.

Taisto’s artistry is represented at the numerous museums in the Nordic countries.

He even depicted Knights of Old and Knights of Bold !

Also using flat ceramic-relief artforms as well as more 3D sculptures.

‘People’ (the name of the sculpture above), is located on the Hermanni Parish Hall in Helsinki and was made by Taisto in 1967. It depicts five people of different ages, holding each other by the hand to form a chain which symbolizes unity within the parish and involvement in the different stages of people’s lives.

I love his range of 2-D and 3-D friendly ceramic pieces.

Beautiful Nordic Ceramics. If you enjoyed this, check out the work of Mari Simmulson, Stig Lindberg and Lisa Larson.