On my recent visit to the British Ceramics Biennial Festival, I was delighted by one of the entries into the Award competition. It was a beautifully designed set of plates and mugs by Ikik (a collaboration between Ikuko Iwamoto and Kaz Kondor), which was apparently inspired by botanical illustrations in books bought from second-hand book shops. The line drawings of caterpillars were lovely in their own right, but were cleverly framed by the bumpy texture of caterpillar skin created in porcelain.
The book idea lodged in my brain, and whilst in Holt over the weekend, I found a wonderful second-hand bookshop and spent a happy hour or so exploring the five rooms, each packed floor to ceiling with old books. The owner told me that the bookshop has been there for around 35 years. (She admitted that some of the books had too.)
I picked up an old copy of a book (1988) on drawing techniques (the current version is here). One of the featured illustrators, Vana Heggerty, inspired the style of the blackbird I drew above. I love her detailed penwork. An unknown blackbird (one of many in the garden) inspired the drawing itself by listening carefully for worms on the lawn.
I also found a much older, beautiful book of botanical illustrations called ‘Flowers of the Field’ by Rev. C.A. Johns. It was published nearly a hundred years earlier in 1889. Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit fragile, but the drawings are fabulous. This browsing around second-hand bookshops could become a habit.