Archive for July, 2015

Varoom 30 – the Play issue

Friday, July 31st, 2015

The Play issue of Varoom is out now, and explores how illustrators and the commercial world use Play as a vital part of the creative process. In Inside the Sandbox, New York illustrator Jennifer Maravillas, expresses how “life is never the same when your process revolves around experimentation. My life and the world around me have become the medium”. The article also talks to Marian Bantjes, Kristi Minchin, Christoph Niemann and Steve Simpson.

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Issue 30 also examines games in digital and physical form. Curator of the National Museum of Play in the USA, Nicolas Ricketts, selects four unusual games from the archive and gives the stories behind them. And Pat Kane in The Play Ethic writes about how he puts play and creativity at the heart of how we need to revolutionize the social and political order in the 21st Century.


Our cover Chihuahua is by Gary Card, who reveals to Varoom the many possibilities of artistic improvisation, talking us through his fashion and shop display work, Lula exhibition and Kafka book cover designs.

“I always like to inject the images with aspects of youth culture. It’s almost like a ritual that I browse through archives of pictures”

Varoom talks to Chinese illustrator Jiiakuann about her exuberant fashion drawings which mesmerise with their rich colours, dynamic forms and fondness for pattern and detail – all rendered in vivid watercolour.

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“Like glimpses of a punkish, darkly humorous, science-fiction dystopia”

In Playing With Space: The Image Theatre of Russell Mills, Rick Poynor examines the benchmark body of work in the history of illustration by Russell Mills, and how he addressed cultural and social ideas within a commercial context in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s.

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“Contemporary Poland is exposed in this new version of Julian Tuwim’s Locomotive”

Andrzej Klimowski reviews this famous Polish children’s illustrated poem, and illustrators Małgorzata Gurowska and Joanna Ruszczyk give their perspective on their retelling. “Our version is linked to the modern world’s issues: the financial market, modern wars, globalization, ecological disasters and political, social issues like anti-Semitism or different kinds of discrimination.”

Purchase single issues of Varoom, or subscriptions here. AOI Members receive Varoom as part of their membership benefits.

Dear Rikard – book review

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

by Lene Ask

Translation: Agnes S.D. Langeland

Published by Centrala ISBN: 978-0-9929082-5-6

Review by Derek Brazell


Families relationships are complex, and the emotional attachments that exist between members can be smooth or strained – or both. Physical and emotional distances play a significant part in Lene Ask’s exploration of separation and restrained communication.

Depicting this with great subtlety, Ask brings depth to the painfully formal letters sent between a father and son across the world in the late nineteenth century over a ten year period. Many of us would struggle to imagine a separation of great distance and many years from a parent when still a young child, and Ask’s pencil drawings depict what is happening off the page, what’s not being said, and also discretely commenting on the stiffly penned words. “It is now many weeks since we had a letter from you…” father Jakobsen writes to his three children, left behind in Norway at a school for missionaries children after their mother had died following the whole family’s return from missionary life in Madagascar. Father is now back in that far off land with his new wife, whom he married a few years after the children’s mother died.


Rikard’s slight missives back to his parent reveal little, with his mentions of school grades giving no context to whether they are good or not – to his father’s written vexation. Emotion is revealed in his letters later on, as the length of separation appears to weigh more heavily on the now growing young man. Ask’s imagery moves from the literal to more involved depictions of the distance between the father and son. One sequence of a Madagacan peach tree disappearing under Norwegian snow, followed by the boy’s hands forming a peach shaped snowball, is a beautifully lyrical part of this impressive graphic novel.


This sensitive depiction of relationships and rarely revealed emotion offers a mature contemplation on lives lived over a century ago, that still speaks to an age where ways to communicate are available to all, but relationships still struggle with feelings that are difficult to express.


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This is Bacon

AOI site hack 27/7/15

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Apologies to all those using the AOI site, as it has been hacked. Our web developers are restoring content, but some is currently out of date as it’s been restored from earlier in the year.

If you wish to join the AOI, please use the Shop as this is functioning fine. Please call us between 10am and 4pm if you have any enquires regarding membership on 020 7759 1010.

Thank you, the AOI team

Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants: The Illustrated World of Nick Sharratt

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Until 21 August 2015

The Civic, Hanson Street, Barnsley, S70 2BT

Free admission: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm


Nick Sharratt, the man behind the instantly recognisable illustrations for Jacqueline Wilson’s Tracy Beaker books and other much-loved characters from the hundreds of books he has written and illustrated, is the subject of this colourful, humorous and hands-on exhibition.

Exploring Nick’s passion for drawing, from childhood to his current status as an internationally renowned illustrator and author, the show features many of the well-known characters that Nick has illustrated over the years, including Tracy Beaker, Billy Bonkers, Daisy, Hetty Feather, Caveman Dave and Pirate Pete, as well as a host of animals, and vast quantities of food and clothing.

AOI Annual General Meeting 2015

Friday, July 24th, 2015

AOI Staff and Board are pleased to give notice and invite all AOI Members to the 2015 Annual General Meeting.

The 2015 AGM will be held on Tuesday 18 August 2015 at 6.15pm at:

The Coningsby Gallery 30 Tottenham Street London W1T 4RJ

Coningsby Gallery, London

Coningsby Gallery, London

This is an opportunity to get to know the people who run the Association, and discuss your concerns and ideas with the staff and Board. The Coningsby Gallery is in central London off Tottenham Court Road and well served by tube and bus. Drinks will be served.

AGM  Agenda:

– Approval of the Minutes and Matters Arising from the AGM of 14 April 2015

– Adoption of the Accounts for the period ending 30th September 2014

– Special resolution: It is proposed that Andrew Coningsby remain as a director for an additional one more year (25th October 2015 until end of day on 24th October 2016). The requirement in 10(b) of the AOI Articles of Association is for him to retire*

– Retirement and Appointment of Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Directors:

These Directors seek re-election:

Andrew Coningsby, Roderick Mills and Tim Ellis

– Any Other Business

Please go here for proxy voting form and downloadable AOI Articles of Association

*Explanatory note here

New PLAY issue of Varoom soon!

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015


More information coming soon. Cover artwork by Gary Card

Ralph Steadman: Printin’ Backwuds

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Lazarides Editions, Mondrian London at Sea Containers, 22 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD

17th July 2015 to 13th August 2015

Monday–Saturday 11am–7pm. Admission is free


Printin’ Backwuds is an exhibition looking back at over 50 years of fine art prints by one of the world’s most renowned and politically charged cartoonists, Ralph Steadman. AOI Patron, Steadman’s direct and impulsive drawing style brought a new level of savagery to British political cartooning in the 1960s, and has continued to have huge impact throughout his influential and extensive career.


In a year that has seen cartoons profoundly affect international relations, Printin’ Backwuds will reference Steadman’s extensive career and his ongoing experimental relationship with the fine art print. On show will be over 30 rare works from the artist’s archives, including never-before-seen prints that have been countersigned by Hunter S Thompson and others that bear the bullet holes from the gun of William Burroughs.

Black Cat, White Cat – book review

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Silvia Borando

Published by Walker Books ISBN: 9781406363166

Review by Derek Brazell


A smart, simple book, Black Cat, White Cat is the story of Black Cat who only steps out in daylight, and White Cat who has the night as her domain. With monotone, rhythmically well balanced illustrations, the story shows the two cats deciding they’d like to explore the side of the day they never see. It’s the perfect opportunity to use those opposite colours.


Asking their respective ‘best friends’ (an owl and a blackbird – two friends who we know would be nothing but a mouthful of feathers in real life) what it’s like in the night or day, the two cats set off to discover. And that’s how they meet, going on to show their new furry friend what their part of the 24 hour cycle is like. Friendship leads to more, and with a witty use of colour, a bunch of kittens appear at the end.


Great to read aloud, Black Cat, White Cat carries its minimalistic story well, and displays the journeys of the two cats over appealing, clearly designed, high contrast spreads.


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Hoot Owl

I Am Henry Finch

Watercolour: Elements of nature

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

16 June to 27 September

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RB Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00 – 17.00 Free admission


Landscapes, portrait miniatures and flower drawings by masters including Samuel Palmer and Paul Cézanne – the collection of watercolours in the Fitzwilliam Museum is one of the finest in the world.

Rarely exhibited and in superb condition, the works on show highlight the extraordinary versatility of the medium, showing how it was used from the Middle Ages onwards to illuminate manuscripts, paint delicate likenesses, accurately record botanical detail and to capture fleeting moments of nature.

Drawn exclusively from the Fitzwilliam’s collections, the exhibition includes miniatures by Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver, botanical drawings by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, as well as a series of superb landscape watercolours by John Constable, Peter de Wint, John Sell Cotman, Samuel Palmer, J. M. Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro and Paul Nash.


The show will be complemented by an exhibition in the Shiba Gallery of watercolours by J.M.W. Turner, many given to the Museum by his greatest champion, John Ruskin.

Alice in Cartoonland

Monday, July 13th, 2015

15 July – 01 November 2015

Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH

Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Cheshire Cat were introduced to the world by Lewis Carroll in 1865 in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A sequel, Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found introduced more memorable characters including the Jabberwock, Humpty Dumpty, the Walrus and the Carpenter and the Kings, Queens and Knights of the chessboard.


For 150 years the curious creatures from Carroll’s topsy-turvy world have been part of popular culture the world over, not just in books, plays and films, toys, games and millions of products from food to clothing but also in – cartoons!

This is hardly surprising since when Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) was seeking an illustrator for Alice he chose John Tenniel, the leading cartoonist of his day, whose caricatures of Victorian politicians and celebrities appeared every week in the pages the humorous magazine, Punch.

The stories were an instant success as were the illustrations and within a very short time people were using the characters and their quotable lines to make satirical comment on current affairs. Even John Tenniel created a topical cartoon for Punch based on his own illustration of Alice’s encounter with the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle.

Alice in Cartoonland celebrates Alice’s many misadventures at the hands of cartoonists, caricaturists and satirists, animators and graphic artists through 150 years of parodies and pastiches, jibes, jokes and gags aimed at making political points, social comment or just intended to make us laugh.

Artists represented range from Low, Vicky, Shepard and Illingworth via Searle and ffolkes to Scarfe, Steadman and Rowson. There are Alice posters by Gilroy advertising Guinness, cartoon strips featuring Flook and Snoopy, pages from comics and graphic novels and original animation art from film and TV versions of Alice.