Sunday, 6 July 2008

A Night in Gormenghast

Friday evening found Sebastian and I back at NYU Paris in Passy - a village I am becoming very fond of. Caroline, the director of this part of NYU, had arranged for a glass of kir for attendees and PWW (through Kate) provided small salty snacks! A fed and watered audience are always more receptive! 

Sebastian's talk led us through his father's work as an illustrator. In the UK Mervyn Peake is known as the author of Mr Pye and the Gormenghast/Titus trilogy but his first love was illustration and one of his first commissions was for pen and ink drawings for RL Stevenson's "Treasure Island". Sebastian explained how his father had him stand on the kitchen table in their unheated house in Sark for hours on end as he modelled for the character of Jim! I was hooked into the tale of a father who not only drew his kids but drew for them. We saw sketches of pirates and heard about an igloo that Mervyn made for the kids when a deep snow fell on Sark. 

The most powerful illustrations to me were the Glass Blowers (now on show in the Manchester Art Gallery) who were blowing glass cathode ray tubes for the bomber planes in WW2 unbeknown to Mervyn as he sketched them at their trade. As an illustrator foremost, Mervyn sketched his was through the Gormenghast books, his manuscripts were full of drawings and Sebastian says his father saw the scenes in his visual imagination before describing them in prose.

I collected my first autograph of this event as Sebastian kindly signed a poster I designed for the event and dedicated it to "My great friend and colleague Kate". I was truly touched. We had a farewell dinner and parted company - each their metro station and their route to the next adventure.

No comments: