Stop Trump March

On friday I joined the start of the Stop Trump march, to show solidarity with thousands of others protesting about the visit and actions of this racist, misogynistic, mendacious and shameless President.  In the words of the characters above, ‘Cluck off, Trump!’

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Visit to Krakow

When I first decided to visit Krakow, partly because I’d heard about the Teraz Komiks! exhibition from comics guru Paul Gravett, I chose my hotel because of its name – the Copernicus. The sixteenth century Polish astronomer, famous for his heliocentric view of the universe, appears in my and Tracey Turner’s The Comic Strip History of Space.  

Copernicus stayed in a building here on Kanonicza street – the site is now a hotel , and I was hooked. My bedroom was up in the roof, with a huge bed like a box pew, and a skylight.  Could I watch the stars at night?  Sadly these days there’s too much light pollution from the city. But I could dream …

Krakow had always intrigued me.  It seemed like a magical place, as well as resonating with a turbulent and complicated history. I could look down from my tiny bedroom window onto the ancient street below, its shining cobbles leading up towards Wawel Castle.

Opposite was the Bishop Erazm Ciolek Palace , filled with ecclesiastical treasures from the 12th to the 18th century, including funeral accoutrements in a darkened room echoing with melancholy music.

I went on a tour of the Collegium Maius where Copernicus studied,  lunched on delicious soup made from pears, parsley and mustard at Wierzynek, one of Krakow’s oldest restaurants.

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At Krakow’s Teraz Komiks! exhibition

So excited to visit Teraz Komiks! (Comics Now!) at Krakow’s National Museum last week, and to meet curators Artur Wabik and Tomasz Trzaskalik, who kindly showed me around the exhibition, and some of the delightful city of Krakow as well. Sitting here on the creative couch with curator/editor Artur and a character called Ink Blot, aka Szarlota Pawel’s Kleks.  The fantastic comic selection of over 600 items, dating from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, is part of a private collection belonging to Wojciech Jama, 

This character may look familiar, but it’s not Homer Simpson, it’s mid-twentieth century Swedish cartoonist Oskar Jacobson’s character Adamson, who found his way into Poland and other European countries, the USA, Japan and China.

I loved this exhibition, not just for its original and rare artwork, books, toys and other merchandise but the cutouts and 3D installations – the nineteenth century ‘cafe’ where one could sit quietly and read comics from that time, and the crazy studio of Papcio Chmiel, creator of the little monkey Tytus and others,  seen above with curator/architect/exhibition designer Tomasz Trzaskalik.

Here I’m sitting next to Zbigniew Lengren’s Professor Filutek from the 1960s.  You can also meet Dennis Wojda and Krzysztof Gawronkiewitcz’s strange inhabitants of Mikropolis, and many more before Teraz Komiks! closes on 22nd July.  Don’t miss it!

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The Hand Book – putting together a dummy

Still a few more characters (and folded pages) to go before it’s published by Design For Today later this year.



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Save Euston Trees event

Yesterday briefly joined painter Dan Llywleyn Hall ,  Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson,  film-maker Jane Gull and many other artists in Euston Square Gardens to make drawings of the Gardens’ remaining trees,  soon to be cut down by HS2 to make way for a temporary taxi rank in front of Euston Station. Some of the trees are over 200 years old, and are not only to be valued and cherished for their beauty and elegance, but for their generous role in alleviating the toxic air from Euston Road, one of the most polluted roads in London.

There’s an exhibition of work in the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras New Churchyard, Euston Road, London NW1 2BA, open 11-4 daily.  Private view 29th June 6-9pm.  Earlier this year,  the church’s vicar and another activist heroically chained themselves to one of the ancient and threatened plane trees,  protesting against their destruction by HS2.

Below, in the Crypt Gallery yesterday, a detail from one of Dan Llywleyn Hall large paintings, showing ghostly figures using the Gardens, and my drawings in situ.  Many more wonderful drawings and paintings there.

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Workshops at Roehampton Reads festival

Perfect weather for running open air workshops last saturday at the first Roehampton Reads festival in Heathmere Primary School, south west London.   I managed to persuade the inspirational Deputy Head to join my pirate crew very briefly, before continuing to encourage children to draw pirates’ treasure/story maps.

Storystorks (see photo above) and her daughter joined my pirate crew too!  Sadly I was too busy running my workshops to meet up and chat with other Roehampton Reads participants … Piers Torday,  Ross Montgomery, Swapna Haddow, Kes Gray, Neil Zetter … though fleetingly bumped into theatre company Really Big Pants.

After lunch at my Space event children added extraterrestrials, spaceships and new planets etc to a mysterious galaxy.  Some brilliant ideas, and great fun drawing along with them. Lovely to say hello again to Victoria and Adeela from Give A Book, one of the festival’s sponsors.

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ShoutWest- CWISL children’s writing event at Brunel University

A selection of book covers drawn by children for their stories, including the Barry the Bob one drawn by me according to their instructions.  Earlier this week I joined other authors/illustrators and over a hundred schoolchildren for two days at a fantastic ShoutWest writing event, organised by CWISL and held at Brunel University.  There was storytelling, drawing and drama with emphasis on encouraging children to feel confident to write – and it worked!  A huge buzz of energy, and an inspirational introduction by the poet Dalit Nagra. At the end of the two days … tidying up in one of the classrooms, and positive feedback from participants on Post-Its.

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Picturing Hair workshop at The Library Space, south London

The curator of the Hair! Human Stories exhibition, now showing at The Library Space, asked me to run a drop-in workshop and bring some of my Hair books with me. Before my workshop venue opened last saturday, I nipped over to a cafe across the road for a cup of tea and was lucky enough to spot this wonderful palm tree hairstyle. Couldn’t resist drawing it and adding it my Picturing Hair introduction.

I asked participants of all ages to draw their favourite/fantasy hairstyles, with impressive results from everyone …

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White Horse walking

Last weekend I visited the Uffington White Horse area with my daughter. We were so excited to eventually reach our destination (by taxi as there are no buses from Swindon) we immediately walked a mile or so from our b&b and scrambled up the almost vertical escarpment of White Horse Hill. We later discovered there was a much easier route via a carpark.

The chalky Horse, at the moment cordoned off by the National Trust because of erosion, is almost impossible to see in its entirety, although apparently you can see it quite clearly from the air.  It has been dated to the Iron Age, but mystery still surrounds this ancient figure, as well as much of the surrounding land.  The black and white image above is from one made by William Plenderleath in the nineteenth century.

We could see the Horse’s eye and part of the curve of its neck stretching down below us on the flanks of the hill. The Horse is ‘scoured’ very year now, its strange and sinuous shape topped up with pounded fragments of chalk, otherwise it would disappear into the landscape. We explored and walked every day, sometimes along the Ridgeway track, staying at the White Horse (0f course) in Woolstone village.

A new addition to my Museum of Dust

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Work in progress – The Hand Book of hopes and dreams

Coming later this year – The Hand Book of hopes and dreams, a limited edition concertina format book published by Design For Today.  A few of its pages here, including a mind reader, a pantomime horse (the front half), a queen and a magician.  Meet a range of characters, be inspired by the images around them and invent all sorts of stories.  What are your hopes and dreams?

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