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Kay Bojesen Wooden Classic Toys

February 8, 2021

Good morning.

Before we start with today’s post, I would just like to mention that I will be having my next ceramic selling event on 20th and 21st February via my stories at Fishinkblog.(www.instagram.com/fishinkblog).  I am joining Curated Makers for their #postablepopup over in my stories and on their feed on Instagram starting at 9am UK time.

I will have a range of new ceramics to show and sell.

So to our featured artist for today…  Kay Bojesen (15 August 1886 – 28 August 1958) was a Danish silversmith and designer.

He is best known for creating wooden animals, especially his wooden monkey (above) which was exhibited at the Victoria and Albert museum in London in the 1950’s, and which today is considered a design classic.

Born on 15 August 1886 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Kay first trained to be a grocer, but in 1906 began working for Danish silversmith Georg Jensen. The Danish Museum of Art & Design describes his early work as being in an Art Nouveau style, likely due to Jensen’s influence.

In 1922, Kay began designing wooden toys, typically about six to ten inches tall, with moveable limbs. These included a teak and limba monkey (1951), an oak elephant, a bear made of oak and maple, a rocking horse of beech, a parrot, a dachshund, and toy soldiers of the Danish Royal Guard including a drummer, a private with rifle and a standard-bearer. In 1990, Danish design house Rosendahl bought the rights to the toys.

In 1931, he was one of the key founders of the design exhibition gallery and shop called “Den Permanente” (The Permanent), a collective which aimed to exhibit the best of Danish design. Kay also designed furniture for children, jewellery and housewares. A set of stainless steel cutlery he designed in 1938 won the Grand Prix at the Milan Triennial IX of 1951, after which he named the set “Grand Prix.” Today, the Grand Prix cutlery has been relaunched and is being manufactured by Kay Bojesen’s granddaughter, Susanne Bojesen Rosenqvist. The Grand Prix is known as the national cutlery of Denmark and is to be found in every Danish Embassy worldwide.

 

Kay Bojesen died August 28, 1958, at the age of 72. His shop in Copenhagen, which he founded in 1932, operated until the nineteen-eighties. Following his death it was continued by his widow Erna Bojesen until her death in 1986.

He was an honorary member of the National Association of Danish Arts and Crafts, and was recognized for his toys by the Danish National Committee of the OEMP (World Organisation for Early Childhood Education). I bet they feel great to play with, anyone have or had one of these growing up ?

Andy Lovell Etching our Landscapes

February 1, 2021

Hello everyone, I hope you had a great weekend.

I first spoke about the work of Andy Lovell back in 2010. His work pops up in my searches every now and again and I remember what fab illustrations he creates.

He is an artist, illustrator and printmaker who has become known for his abstract etchings, mono-prints and Cyanotype art.

Having originally studied at the Liverpool School of Art and Design, his work is well recognised and his individuality produces striking artwork.

Andy takes inspiration from life which is then revisited through the medium of print.

He is a master of line, colour and mark making.

Taking original sketches and paintings, Andy is able to capture a real sense of mood and place from the places he visits to sketch.

He knows how to add drama and interest to a landscape.

His landscapes speak of earth and furrowed fields. Forest and wildplants throw splashes of colour and shape, adding to the richness of each illustration.

I love these wild moor and lofty hill prints. The clever dragged lines of ink and paint not only help to suggest the landscape but also give a visual direction to each scene.

You can almost feel like you’re standing looking down these valleys.

The hills eventually lead us to the sea.

White cliffs and wild waters.

Tepid tones, swirling skies and seas.

These textured black and whites are wonderful, with a slight sixties retro edge to them.

Breathtaking textures.

You can discover more of his prints for sale here on his website.

Gwenda Morgan Beautiful Woodcuts

January 25, 2021

Hello one and all. I shall start by thanking everyone who came and bought from my ‘shop’ @fishinkblog on Instagram over the weekend. If you missed it don’t worry there are still many wonderful ceramics for you to browse through, but it was a great sucess and my work is now on it’s way to the USA and Australia which is fab.

I thought as it’s been particually snowy here in the UK of late that this artists’ work may be just the tonic, enjoy !

Gwenda Morgan (1908 – 1991) was born in Petworth, her father having moved there to work at the ironmongers Austens, of which he later became the proprietor. Following school in Petworth and at Brighton and Hove High School. From 1926, Gwenda studied at Goldsmiths’ College of Art in London.

From 1930 she attended the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in Pimlico where she was taught and very strongly influenced by the principal, Iain Macnab.  The Grosvenor School was a progressive art school, and the championing of wood engraving and linocuts fitted with its democratic approach to the arts.

The main body of her work drew upon the landscape and buildings around Petworth and the neighbouring South Downs. Her work was inspired by that of Iain Macnab, Percy Douglas Bliss and the Sussex-bred Eric Ravilious.

Throughout the Second World War she worked in the Women’s Land Army just outside Petworth. Her record of those years was published by the Whittington Press in 2002 as The Diary of a Land Girl, 1939-1945. It is a poignant record of the determination to carry on whatever the weather or wartime deprivations.

Here’s an excerpt from Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers & Engravers, an Honorary Member of the Society of Wood Engravers, and a Member of the National Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, and she showed work at their annual exhibitions. She also exhibited at the Royal Academy and at the Redfern Gallery.

Her prints are held in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum in London, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, among others.

Some of her work has a wonderful sense of movement… even the still life woodcuts!

I feel that Gwenda’s work is somehow timeless, like this image above called ‘Winter Arrangement’, it feels like it could have been created last week and not over 60 years ago, as it was originally engraved in 1954!

Here’s a great shot of Gwenda with her family.

Lovely depictions of rural lifestyles at that time.

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Fishinkblog Ceramics sale 2021… this weekend !!

January 20, 2021

Hello everyone, just a quick message to say that my first Ceramic selling event of 2021 is happening this Saturday 23rd January at 9am UK time, and is open until 5pm Sunday 24th.

I will have all new ceramics including dogs, cats, large whales, birds and trees. A few rabbits, foxes and a good selection of lovely ceramic pendants. Please go to Instagram @fishinkblog (www.instagram.com/fishinkblog) if you would like to pick up some unique colourful gifts for yourself or presents for early birthdays this year. I do ship worldwide too.

Some examples below.

 

Look forward to seeing you on Saturday, please share this event with your friends. Thank you Craig

Lynn Chadwick Dark Sculptures, Metallic Forces

January 18, 2021

Happy Monday everyone. Today I would like to revisit the work of an amazing Sculptor.

Lynn Chadwick c. 1950 at work in his studio with maquette for sculpture. English sculptor 1914 - 2003 ( Cigarette smoke....AFYC8B Lynn Chadwick c. 1950 at work in his studio with maquette for sculpture. English sculptor 1914 - 2003 ( Cigarette smoke.

Lynn Russell Chadwick was born in London on 24 November 1914. After attending the Merchant Taylor School and a stay in France, Chadwick worked for several London architect’s practices between 1933 and 1939. At that time he focused on techniques of draughtsmanship and watercolour as well as oil painting.

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During the second world war, Lynn Chadwick served for a while as a land labourer before volunteering as a Royal Navy pilot and serving between 1941 and 1945. On his return to London, he began to experiment with mobiles and earned a living, quite successfully, as a freelance designer until 1952. Collaboration with the architect Rodney Thomas proved a formative influence on Chadwick and from 1951, Chadwick received commissions for sculpture. He had a solo show at Gimpel Fils in 1950. For his figures, Lynn Chadwick mainly used pieces of iron welded together, which, as mobiles, are reminiscent of Calder’s work but as stabiles (Stabiles are a form of modern sculpture invented by Alexander Calder) filled with concrete stand on long legs and resemble a cross between abstract constructs and figurative skeletal beings.

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I think some of his work is quite primeval, almost bat or bird-like and quite ‘dark’ in terms of the feeling they emit. There’s a strange almost fascinating air of foreboding about them, which only makes me want to find out more.

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Chadwick achieved instant recognition in the 1950s when his objects were awarded numerous prizes (Venice 1956, Padua 1959, Lugano 1960) and were shown at exhibitions of international stature (1952 and 1956 Venice Biennales). He received commissions for more monumental sculptures, gradually transforming his rough, often aggressive-looking animal figures into softer, even more sentimental compositions with anthropomorphic features. While continuing to do standing figures, Chadwick turned increasingly often to recumbent or seated pairs of figures.

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These seated figures remind me of Kings and Queens. Not dissimilar to the ideas and scultural forms of Henry Moore.

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At home in Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire, Chadwick established a sculpture park of his own. Long since a Commander of the British Empire (1964), Chadwick was also made an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1985. Although his work was in its heyday in the 1950s, Chadwick continued to develop his figures within the context of his material idiom until the century closed. By the time Lynn Chadwick died in Stroud, Gloucestershire in 2003, he was one of the best-known sculptors of the post-war era.

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More strong and assertive bat-women figures here. Confident, dark and striding ahead.

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Many thanks to Art Directory for the information on Lynn, used in this article. Wonderful work. I’d love to hear what emotions they stirr in you all.

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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