south dakota, 1938
Of all the picture books on my shelves, this is probably the one I pull out most often, The Champion Pig. It’s a collection of photos gathered by Barbara Norfleet from small American photography studios, taken between 1929 up to the ’60s. They’re full of odd details, with a feeling of strangeness throughout the book; I’m a bit obsessed with it. I found it about eight years ago in Halcyon Books in Greenwich and I think it’s out of print now, although I managed to find my sister a used copy online awhile back. I took the book to a cafe this morning and copied one of the photos for my morning warm-up sketch.
It’s actually one of the less bizarre photos, but there’s something lovely and heartbreaking about this portrait: everything from the safety pin holding up the man’s trousers and the half-smoked cigarette in his shirt pocket while he holds an unsmoked stogie in his mouth; I can’t tell if the man is the woman’s son or husband, but she looks both hard and kind at the same time, almost beautiful in a way. The guy has a real Boo Radley look to him and these are probably his best clothes, which are either too big for him because he’s lost weight or they’re second-hand. His ears stick out in such a Norman Rockwell kind of way, emphasised by the close sides of his haircut. …So interesting.
The Bookseller Crow, which hosted part of this weekend’s book party, has posted a video on its website. The caption reads:
There were some very cool cats in our shop today: Now that was a lot of fun! What a really great bunch of people! Here are some of them drawing and winding down at the end of a packed day of events at The Crystal Palace Children’s Book Festival. Look out in particular towards the end of the film for Viviane Schwarz drawing some lovely cats.
Ooo, Viviane’s posted one of the Czech mole movies! We used to watch those on projector at school when I was a wee tot!
And thanks to Joe at Forbidden Planet for posting a link about the festival!
Other news, a family friend in Seward, Alaska writes to say she’s very excited to acquire a painting left intentionally behind in a coffee shop by Bret Bataclan, who makes a habit of doing just that. Hurrah!