'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 25 February 2017

Review: Edward Ardizzone: Artist and Illustrator

Edward Ardizzone was a prolific artist and some of the books I remember most clearly from my childhood are by him.

There's just something about his pen and ink and line and wash illustrations that resonates with me and makes them immediately recognisable, and I must admit to having geeked out over this fantastic biography.

Edward Ardizzone: Artist and Illustrator was researched and written by Alan Powers, and accompanied a retrospective exhibition held at the House of Illustration in London, which Powers co-curated.

It's a stunning book from start to finish, including the endpapers which are a collage of Ardizzone book covers, and is filled with reproductions of his illustrations and other artwork - working drawings, sketches and final pieces - along with detailed information.

Ardizzone was an office clerk as a young man, but had been drawn to art from an early age, and as soon as he had the chance he left for a career that matched his passion.

He was much more than an illustrator of children's books. In this biography many aspects of his life and career are discussed including development of his artistry, his time as an official war artist during World War II, children's books featuring Little Tim and his friends, and his work outside books.

A few facts about Edward Ardizzone:
  • He was born in Indo-China in 1900, to a part-Scottish mother and a father whose heritage was Italian, but who was born in Algeria at a time that meant he had French nationality.
  • He was the inaugural winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1956.
  • Some of his work, particularly that considered more 'ephemeral', appears under the name Diz.
  • His cousin, Mary Lewis, wrote under the pen name Christianna Brand, including the Nurse Matilda stories illustrated by Ardizzone, which were adapted for the big screen as Nanny McPhee.
  • He illustrated books by Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Dylan Thomas, and many others.

Whether or not you are acquainted with Edward Ardizzone as an author and illustrator, I recommend tracking down a copy of Edward Ardizzone: Artist and Illustrator for a comprehensive insight into motivations, techniques, story development, and so much more.
'In the history of illustration in Britain, there have been relatively few artists who defined the field in their generation. Before Edward Ardizzone (1900-79) it was Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) and, after him, it has been Quentin Blake (b.1932), but nobody else qualifies to be their equivalent during the intervening time period as he does.' 
Title: Edward Ardizzone: Artist and Illustrator
Author: Alan Powers 
Publisher: Lund Humphries, $89.99
Publication Date: September 2016
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781848221826
For ages: 15+
Type: Non fiction