January 2010 was the month in which Brian Wildsmith celebrated his 80th birthday and on Tuesday 13th April he travelled to the UK from his home in France to meet friends family and fans in the London Based Illustration Cupboard for a private view of a selection of his artwork.
Brian has been writing and illustrating children's books since the 1960's and for all that time he has worked with Oxford University Press who co-hosted the evening. The small space was packed to bursting with all those who wanted to take the opportunity of such a rare chance to meet Brain and look at a selected showcase of his amazing work.
Brian works outside the traditional boundaries of illustration in children's picture books and certainly broke the mould when he first started with his ABC which is still in print and massively popular today. His current editor and the team from Oxford were thrilled to be able to present his work and celebrate his milestone birthday explaining what a pleasure it has been and continues to be working with Brian. Luminaries from the world of children's literature including Shirley Hughes dropped in for a chat and Brain was clearly thrilled to see so many people there for him.
His work, which is on display for a few more weeks in London and also in Seven Stories in Newcastle is quite stunning when seen independently of the books. The colour splashes that he uses as well as techniques become clear and it was quite obvious that whilst he has a distinctive style he has a wonderful imagination and understands how to appeal directly to his audience. Everyone I spoke to loved being able to have the chance to see the pictures and meet the man who is becoming a living legend, who drew them. It was a very special evening and on behalf of all the readers of Armadillo I wish Brian continued success and urge everyone to look out for his ABC, Animals, Fables, Nursery Rhymes and more. I have been told that we can expect some further reissues of Brain's books over the next few months and will certainly be keeping a eye open for them!