Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sebastian Walker

Tuesday already. I'm a gardener. With a bad back. 6:45pm. The emptying of grass cuttings is interrupted by a phone call from Brian.  He enquires if I'm scribbling. Am I working on some marvellous commission. No just mowing the lawn. Cutting a hedge that borders insanity. During the conversations he mentions a programme he'd listened to earlier on BBC Radio 4 about the life of Sebastian Walker founder of Walker Books. In my opinion the radio broadcast didn't give enough credit to co founder Art Director Amelia Edwards, well at least Maurice Sendak mentioned Amelia which prompted Sebastian Walker's sister to. Walker had complete faith in Amelia's choice of illustrator, as was the case with Strat & Chatto not to mention Bully. I met the man on several occasions usually in Walker Books canteen. I got the impression that he wasn't really interested in what I was doing as long as Amelia had faith in my work, fine. But as the programme suggested Sebastian Walker changed the face of childrens books in this country and valued the illustrator. For once the illustrator wasn't treated as an after thought.
Illustrations from Strat & Chatto by Jan Mark. pub 1989. It won The Mother Goose Award the following year. And as I predicted in my acceptance 'speech' well you could hardly call it a speech more a resigned grumbled monologue...."is this it?"... As I clasped  an oversized metal egg coated in imitation  gold leaf sat on a olive-green velvet cushion... "It's the kiss of death." Sebastian Walker winced in the background.  


  1. Wonderful to see the roughs from Strat and Chatto that didn't make it into the book.

  2. The roughs in my opinion are probably better than the finished work. It was a very disciplined job. Jan Mark the author I think kept a pet rat - so she was against the original pencil version. Considered my beast to too evil. The pencil and charcoal versions were considered to be too sophisticated for the world of childrens books. Strat & Chatto was the trigger for me to pick up ye olde dip pen and dip it in the ink. In those days the lightbox was the second tool of choice. Only one illustration in the book was first go. ...and that was the endpaper. The final drawing.