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Hanna-Mae Illustration

Illustrator & eco clothing designer

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November 2018

Monthly review; Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Letters

Title: Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Letters

Authors/illustrator: Brian Froud, Ari Berk

Price: From £8 – £160 first edition

Where to buy (UK): Amazon, ebay, Waterstones

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This is one of my most treasured Froud books in my collection, possibly because it really stands out from the others. What makes this book so unique is the interaction the reader has with it. Each page is filled with Froud’s distinctive fairy illustrations, but also draws the reader/viewer in by having all sorts of interesting attachments. From ‘handwritten’ pull-out letters, to envelopes containing quaint surprises, this book encourages exploration by the reader, involving another sense (touch) rather than the usual individual sense of sight (though I must admit I’m a fan of the smell of new or very old books…I know I’m not alone in this!).

As with many of Froud’s book the creativity and attempt at authenticity doesn’t stop with the artwork. The text itself could be argued to be a work of art in itself. Throughout we’re treated to a range of interesting fonts, from beautiful italic handwriting to calligraphy-style work. One thing that Froud never fails to do is draw his audience in. It’s almost as if he believes these wonderful scenarios and worlds he imagines. I love the dedication to making the book and backstory seem as authentic as possible, it shows Froud’s utter enthusiasm for his work.

Much like his other books the target age for this book is debatable. Whilst fairies and similar subjects are often thought of as geared more towards children, Froud’s work always seems to fall into this ageless space. I can imagine children and adults alike enjoying this hands-on book. That being said, for the very reason that it is hands-on this book isn’t suitable for very young children as delicate pull-outs may be easily torn/damaged. Some understanding and prior-knowledge is also needed to understand the basis of this book. Many adults will be familiar with the true story of the girls who, in 1917, took ‘real’ photographs of fairies in Cottingley, England (which were later exposed as being fake). The book is intended to be a ‘scrapbook’ of the girl in the famous photograph, named Angelica Cottington. As mentioned in last month’s review of Froud’s ‘A Field Guide to Goblins; The Goblin Companion’, whist wonderfully elaborate the story can be difficult to follow, particularly for younger readers. For this reason I’d recommend this book for older teenagers on wards, however I’m sure children would love to be shown the quirky illustrations and would delight in the pull-outs being demonstrated (do take note that some fairy poses are quite cheeky though! Parents may want to flip through and judge for themselves first).

Price-wise this book is affordable and I personally feel that the joy I get from revisiting this book again and again is worth every penny paid. I’d recommend this book to anyone with an interest in illustration, other worlds, and those young at heart.

 

TIP: If you like this book there are other Lady Cottington books, which are available in Waterstones. You can see the whole collection on their website here: link

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What’s in store for November?

It’s hard to believe it’s November already! This year has flown by in a blur. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, about where my illustration is leading me, how I want to utilise my creativity and where it’ll take me in the future. Trying to meet a deadline I’ve fallen into the mindset of my current piece being more of a chore than how I want my time creating to be. When I allow myself time and space, art is my therapy. When I relax and just go with the flow and allow myself to really get in tune with my work is when I actually produce the best results and really engage with the process. In the coming years I’d like to look further in to art as therapy and hope that starting voluntary work working with people with Alzheimer’s will bring the opportunity to bring someone pleasure and a mode of creative communication.

Here are some of my recent rough sketches for the piece I’ve been working on. The piece itself will be made up of many elements and I’m currently working my way through each one, until I feel happy with the final version that I’ll then transfer to my prepared paper.

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The piece I’m working on is based on The Mabinogion, a collection of medieval Welsh tales. The stories are full of adventure, peril and mythological creatures, such as dragons and the cyclops. Above is my interpretation of a ‘Coranian’. The Coraniaid appear in the tale of Lludd and Llefelys and are a race of people that are said to be like a plague; their hearing is so intense that it’s impossible for them to be harmed as they always hear when danger is coming. When I’m creating characters I like to do some visual research. For the Coraniaid I researched medieval clothing to get a sense of what sort of things they would wear, and as the Coraniaid are said to be small i imagined a stocky build. I’ll be talking more about creative processes later this month in my monthly tutorial.

Later this month I’m hoping to visit an exhibition in Peterborough hosted by the City Gallery titled ‘Fabric of Society‘. As someone who’s interested in textiles I’m looking forward to seeing this and will be reporting back in my monthly review next month (the exhibition runs until January).

Next week I’ll be reviewing, as promised, another of Brian Froud’s  unconventional works: ‘Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Letters‘. If you haven’t already read last months ‘Goblins’ review, you can find it here link.

 

 

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