27 March 2011

Salley Mavor's book illustrations

Cover, Salley Mavor's delightful new book.

Massachusetts is full of surprisingly good local museums and in January my husband and I drove to one of them, the Danforth Museum of Art, in Framingham. We enjoyed an exhibit of original children's book illustrations by Falmouth artist Salley Mavor, all from her new volume of nursery rhymes. The exhibit ended January 23, 2011; however many of the works will travel through 2013. It's worth the trip, and the remaining schedule, and much additional info about this artist, can be found at Ms. Mavor's website http://www.weefolkstudio.com/

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.

We read Ms. Mavor's earlier works with our children while they were growing up, and enjoyed the books very much. In the latest volume, though, Ms. Mavor has exceeded herself, achieving results with her unique low relief fiber techniques that are better than ever.

I have always liked low-relief sculpture, whatever the specific medium. One highlight of my Italian honeymoon, many years ago, was viewing Lorenzo Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise doors in Florence.

Detail, Adam and Eve panel, Gates of Paradise.

It took Ghiberti twenty-one years to make his panels. It took Ms. Mavor about one month to make each illustration for her book, which should be at least nominated for a Caldecott prize.

Detail, The Cock Crows in the Morn.

She deftly manipulates materials on the surface layer and then introduces other elements which just break free of the surface, creating depth that is all the more profound for the slim margin between the second and third dimensions.

Miss Muffet, with bowl of curds.

A spirit sheltering from the rain,
beneath a beautifully hand-dyed felt toadstool.

Old King Cole, with fiddlers.

Blanket stitch and felt create a stone castle.

A collage of cottages.

Pretty maids all in a row in contrary Mary's garden.

Ms. Mavor uses many found objects,
including driftwood and acorn caps.

If you have any excuse at all - a friend or relative with a new baby, for example - to buy this book, you'll be delighted with it. Just enjoy the book yourself for a while before giving it away. ISBN 978 0 618 73740 6.

Ms. Mavor signs my books, at the
New England Quilt museum, December 10, 2011.

This just in: Back in 2010, when I first published this post, Jay and I were not able to attend the book-signing at the Danforth. But life gives second chances, and to my delight the NEQM hosted Ms. Mavor in December, 2011. Hie we to Lowell, with our books, and I purchased another copy too. Ms. Mavor graciously signed them all and sat for her picture.