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Picnics with Helen Borten

August 1, 2014

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Fans of this site will know how much I love the work of mid century illustrator Helen Borten, in fact I’m hoping that later this year to be able to share some exciting news with you about her work which is hush hush just now !  This must about the tenth post on the Fishink Blog that features her work. Today I’m showcasing ‘The Picnic Book’ by Marian Tracy printed in 1957 by Charles Scribner’s Sons in New York.

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When I asked Helen what she remembers about doing the illustrations for this book, she said she didn’t remember doing it. That is not to say that Helen is forgetful, it merely acts as a reminder of just how many books she created artwork for over her long career as a children’s book illustrator. Fishinkblog 7709 Helen Borten 4

Helen said that if she couldn’t even remember the illustrations for this book then they obviously didn’t leave much of an impression on her and therefore the book probably wasn’t worth tracking down and buying. Well I’m sorry Helen but I disagree, these are wonderful, and feel as fresh as the day you drew them some fifty seven years ago ! Do you not agree readers ?

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Simple, yet uncluttered, each drawing is instantly recognisable as to which culinary delight it’s meant to be. Fishinkblog 7711 Helen Borten 6

The mix of the different weights of line, are a perfect combination. Some of those cakes and pies simply look good enough to eat ! Fishinkblog 7718 Helen Borten 7

Great work as ever Helen.

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Look out for other cookery-illustration related articles coming in the next few weeks. Do any of you have a similarly illustrated and dated book you’d like me to feature on here. Please get in touch.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2014 10:28 am

    Do you know the Ambrose Heath books, Ravilious illustrated some of them?

    • August 1, 2014 12:02 pm

      Thanks for the comment, No I hadn’t heard about them… will investigate further : )

  2. August 2, 2014 6:19 am

    These are lovely, thanks for bringing them to my attention. My tutor on my MA course is really passionate about books illustrated in the 1940’s – 1960’s, we had a great lecture last semester on a woman, Barbara someone.. I’ll get back to you with her surname…

    • August 2, 2014 7:25 am

      Hi Natalie, many thanks for your comment. I was trying to work out if you’re on the children’s MA course in Cambridge and whether your tutor is the talented Mr Salisbury ? I love the books he’s written on the subject. Barbara someone eh… well I’ll wait to hear who you mean..

      • August 4, 2014 3:14 pm

        Yes, I am on the Cambridge MA; will start second year in September as I’m doing it part-time. You are also right in one of my tutors being the fabulous Mr Salisbury, the other is the equally wonderful Pam Smy, and the artist in question is Barbara Jones.

  3. August 4, 2014 3:49 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Natalie, that course sounds fab, I have another online friend Polly Nokes who recently finished it. My regards to Martin, although we’ve yet to meet. Will investigate Barbara Jones too : )

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