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Dec
11

Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There: Illustrated by John Vernon Lord

Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There: Illustrated by John Vernon Lord. Textual corrections and a foreword by Selwyn Goodacre.

Published by Artists Choice Editions; first edition (25 Oct 2011).

Available in two editions: a standard limited edition, with a run of 320 copies numbered and signed by Lord, and priced £98. The special limited edition, a run of 98 copies, bound with a leather spine and presented in a slipcase with a set of prints signed by Lord, is priced £320. Mine is the ‘cheap’ version…

From a Guardian article in 2007:

At first sight, his black and white illustrations, particularly those for Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and Aesop, appear to be traditional wood engravings, but in fact they are all pen and ink drawings, which is something of a paradox. Wood engraving was invented so that drawings could be reproduced, but Lord has reversed the process and, instead of cutting into a surface to release the light, he skilfully builds up the dark areas with pen and ink. In his characteristically idiosyncratic manner, he meticulously records the time each illustration takes: in Aesop’s Fables, for instance, “The Bat, the Bramble and the Cormorant” took 16 hours, 32 minutes, while “The Crow and the Sheep” took 11 hours, 11 minutes. The variety in the textures (he uses a mapping pen and a Rotring) is astonishing: fine crosshatching emphasises form and volume, rather as a sheer black stocking does on a shapely ankle. Sometimes, with a thicker line, the glistening striations resemble the grooves on an old 78 record. In contrast to the free-hand drawing, certain areas are painstakingly created with parallel lines done with a ruler that’s had its hard edges rubbed down, so as to soften the line, while here and there he waxes the paper to resist the ink, creating sudden explosions of light in his atmospheric landscapes. His pen strokes are often dizzying in their intensity and while there’s little movement in the drawings – even the mad prancing figures he draws for Lear’s Nonsense Rhymes seem frozen in mid-air – around them the lines resonate with one another like singing telegraph wires. The composition is always precise and the drawing is very controlled, though occasionally he lets rip with a squiggle or two, as in “The Crow and the Sheep”. Humour is ever-present, but it’s a dark humour that lurks in corners and behind doors.

Just as lovely as the Wonderland.

Available via Amazon: Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There: Illustrated by John Vernon Lord

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