an autobiographical lecture

We will be going on a trip down memory lane, looking at examples work I did as a student at Salford School of Art and the Central School of Arts and Crafts (London) in the late 1950s and early 1960s. We will start by looking at an old postcard of an Edwardian photograph of Salford Tech which was designed by an architect called Henry Lord, who was an ancestral cousin (several times removed) of mine. My great, great grandfather Thomas Lord was a coal dealer in Salford in the 1850s and later a warehouse clerk in Salford who was to die of Typhus in a slum in 1870.

We'll then go on to look at drawings, paintings and prints done when I was a student. We'll be looking at such things as - flowers, a banana and a sprout, the back of an alarm clock and a stop-watch, a duodenum & pancreas (which prompted my first freelance job for Carter's Little Liver Pills); a portrait of Philip the lVth of Spain with watch; a Jack Snipe and a portrait of J.S. Bach; a train ticket from Hassocks to Durham and back, showing the consecutive punch marks. As well as seeing a self-portrait as a cuckoo clock we'll also see a trombonist, American footballers, a chess set, paper darts, a cotton-reel tank and plenty of cross-hatching!

We'll have a glimpse at early freelance work done throughout the 1960s, including - a lavatory, a utility room, a washing machine and a gas-cooker for the magazine House Beautiful; school equipment for a W.H.Smith advertisement; a booklet, entitled A Visit to Bedsyde Manor, commissioned by Guinness; `The Book of Taliesyn' record cover for the group - Deep Purple; an `alchemist' for the publisher Mitchell Beazley; a `Punch and Judy' illustration for the magazine Holly Leaves. We'll look at a drawing based on the biblical inscription on the ceiling of Manchester Central Reference Library) - `Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and, with all thy getting, get understanding'. Proverbs 4:7.

There will be a showing of a selection of illustrations from some of my books -

Adventures of Jaboti on the Amazon, a story about a flute-playing tortoise, published in 1968;

Reynard the Fox

my first picture book - The Truck on the Track (1970), having to overcome the problem that the story all takes place on the same spot;

Dinosaurs Don't Die (1970) where I had to overcome the problem of specific locations and the fact that the action of the story all takes place during night time;

The Giant Jam Sandwich, (1972) which you've already heard me talk about;

The Runaway Rollerskate (1973) about a mouse who stole Mr Ellwood's roller-skate;

Mr Mead and His Garden (1974) a ridiculous tale about an enthusiastic gardener who chucks snails over the garden wall;

Who's Zoo (1977) about animal hybrids;

Miserable Aunt Bertha
(1979) a ridiculous story about the attempts of a nephew to make his miserable old Aunt happy.

Then we come to more black and white illustrations again.

The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear
(1984) has 330 illustrations in it. Here we'll see one or two roughs and my ridiculous grid system plus a few of the final illustrations: a man dancing with a cat, another feline with an owl, a person banging on a gong, a couple of greedy people, anguish on the rails, the Narkundan one with a thunderous voice, the inhabitants of the Quangle Wangle's hat, people complaining about bees and squeaky shoes, a flock of pelicans, an uncommon old man who was partial to tea but who abhorred buttered toast, a navigator who thought his boat was afloat etc. Much of Lear's loneliness and despair are expressed in his writing. His poems are often about the individual in combat against society. Among the absurdity of nonsense his poems are also moving. The plots of the limericks more often thin rather than thicken and as the sense escapes us we are moved and unmoved at the same time. Lear was in my bones for several years.

Then, by way of relief and contrast, I'll be showing you a few photographs I've taken - mostly of landscapes and buildings: sunset behind Lantau Island in Hong Kong and a dusk-time shot of Tolo Channel (taken in 1989), the evening shore at Stanley in Hong Kong, skyscrapers in Hong Kong showing a wrapped-up building (Christo-like), bamboo cross-hatched scaffolding, a barn in Wensleydale, the 285 feet high `Flat Iron' building in New York taken in 1983 (designed by Daniel Burnham & built in 1902), a copse and a dry-stone wall in Sedbusk Yorkshire, a view of Tap Mun Chau and a bit of the Malvern Hills.

Then we'll look at a few black and white illustrations from Aesop's Fables (1989). Like Lear's verse, fables are pithy and reflect the human condition. Fables show us the stark reality of life as it is - not as it might be. They can be double-edged instruments of instruction. The messages we gain from them can be ambiguous, teaching us right as well as wrong. Many of these illustrations were done around the village of Ditchling, where I live. We'll see slides of lambs, wolves, kites, a mouse, a frog, a hare and a tortoise breasting a tape after sprinting down a local lane, a cat grabbing a cock in our poultry enclosure, a fox after grapes in Ditchling vineyards, a greedy and flattering fox cajoling a crow for cheese in our back garden, a vain jackdaw, quite a few lions, fish in a net, brambles, a cormorant, a bat, porcupines and snakes.