Birds & Words

March 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Talking of Flamingos {and you’ve probably long forgotten that I was – sorry!}, there is a rather friendly flock of them padding about our flat these days – Alain Grée’s arrived just last week. Sent by Noriko Oseko, enthusiastic Japanese collector of the french illustrator’s books, they were received with enormous excitement on my part. His work has only recently crossed my path but I’m already a bona fide fan with ‘Les Oiseaux’ and ‘Les Plantes’ patiently sitting on our book shelves waiting for future french tuition of mini-mes. You can get your hands on them at Noriko’s Belgian based website Ricobel.

The above are just two of an extensive selection of the now vintage children’s books published by Casterman and feature Grée’s distinctive graphics and words, teaching the little people about the world around them through a bold and colourful prism.

Making friends with the new additions are Charley Harper’s 1950s pink ladies, crown princesses of his exquisite compendium of illustrated feathered friends, ‘Birds and Words’. Silk screened creations that were originally created for the Ford Times {of the Ford Motor Company} they are pure inspiration on a grey winters day.

‘I didn’t see scapulars, auriculars, primaries, tail coverts, tarsi – none of that. I saw exciting shapes, colour combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behaviour and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. And so I have never counted the feathers in the wings, for that is not what my pictures are about. I just count the wings.’

Charley Harper, Birds & Words 2008

That leaves me with my final introduction – to John James Audubon’s Phoenicopterus Ruber Ruber, a fine hook-beaked fellow whom the celebrated artist and ornithologist spotted in 1830s Florida. Here he graces the front cover of Katrina Cook’s exquisite compendium of all things ‘Bird’, published by Quercus and which merits detailed pouring over during quiet Sunday evenings listening to Brian Eno’s Apollo. So there you go, you’ve met them all now – they send their best regards and hope to meet you soon.


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