Walking round the V & A with a sketchbook was an inspiration. I realised that mythical animals were portrayed by many cultures over centuries. Every mythical animal was part of a different story. I had recently read Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson and was struck by the following sentence:
'Everyone who tells a story tells it differently just to remind us that everybody sees (the world) differently'.
I decided to make a concertina book 14.5 cm square and 1 – 2 metres (variable) long to illustrate this idea with wood engravings, each 7.5 x 5.0 cm or smaller. So I made preparatory drawings to change my sketches into tiny mythical beasts suitable for wood engraving on box wood and resingrave blocks.
I was greatly helped by Peter Brown who taught me in a class at Dulwich Picture Gallery and showed me how different tools can be used to convey drawn marks. I also had support from a book illustration class at Putney School of Art. Class discussions enabled me to plan the layout of the book.
The prints are black and white, which is particularly suited to wood engraving; but the embossed covers are red leather to provide a contrast. The country of origin for each animal is also in colour.
I hope this little book will give an audience a taste of the richness and diversity of the V & A.
V&A collection reference number(s):
672-1895, FE.37 - 1980, HMC 80.3, 1102 - 1876, E.2329 - 1934