Illustrated manuscript comprising 43pp. (+ 7pp. blank) of neat calligraphic text wonderfully embellished throughout with original illustrations and decorative borders in watercolour and ink. Original handmade pictorial cloth binding decorated in fabric collage and ink by the artist/author over stiff boards. Oblong folio. Condition is very good, the binding slightly skewed with a little dust-soiling to the covers and minor shelf wear to the extremities. The contents with a couple of small nicks and some toning to the endpapers are otherwise excellent, remaining clean and bright throughout, the colours fresh.
An imaginative and beautifully executed original composition of both text and artwork, paying homage to the life of London's Kew Gardens, celebrating with affection and good humour the experiences of the diverse range of visitors that have past through its gates over the previous two centuries (although focussing particularly on the present day). Beginning with an excerpt from the poem 'Spring' by Philip Larkin (and with other quotations from authors including Lewis Carroll and Ezra Pound scattered throughout), Ford takes the reader on a meandering tour through the garden's history, before dwelling on its famous features, structures and idiosyncrasies, in addition to his own personal experiences and observations. The contents include everything from "An Interview with the Turnstile Man" and "The Gardens in Summer", together forming a marvellous, understated testament to the garden's diversity ("Fathers with splayed out limbs... Babies waddle towards stationary and dignified ducks... Americans in dark silk shirts with expensive cameras bouncing on their stomachs; blonde Scandinavian girls, sinister behind sun-glasses; students with long, dank 'Lady Macbeth' hair styles... gesticulating, laughing Indian girls and hosts more people who do not suggest any labels"); to "Verbatum", a record of overheard comments by the public (ending "Let's go home. I'm fed up with plants"); the tongue-in-cheek poem "O you Glass-houses of Kew" ("Dogging the dreams of the worthy window-cleaners, / Quickening the pulse of the rabid stone throwers"); and "Miss Marianne North - Victorian flower painter", an account of the pioneering botanical artist, amongst others. Peter Ford RE RWA was born in 1937 and studied at the Hereford College of Arts, Brighton College of Art, and finally the University of London. Ultimately coming to work predominantly within the medium of printmaking, Ford has exhibited widely over a long career, with work held in major public collections around the world, including the Tate Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, the Yale Centre for British Art, the Musée de la Publicité, Paris, Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, the Kaliningrad Art Gallery, Russia, and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan. The present work, created early in Ford's career whilst studying at St. Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham in the early 1960s, exhibits a lively, playful, light-hearted line, reminiscent of other illustrators of the period, most notably Edward Ardizzone and Edward Bawden. According to the artist, he created only two unique books of this nature, the other being on the theme of medieval bestiaries, made during his time at Brighton College of Art. A splendid celebration of one of London's best loved sites, and a superb example of mid-century British illustrative art.
Stock code: 21249