Opening the pages of a favourite childhood book, feeling the texture of the fragile leaves, smooth and rough in turn, I am drawn in to the fine detail of the worlds of wonder, far distant and remote, yet inextricably linked to our own. With each turn of the page, windows are flung wide in my mind, revealing snowscapes of delicate calm, cityscapes of chaos, seascapes of raging torment and landscapes of hidden undergrowth.
When asked to choose one book of inspiration, I consider carefully and make the almost impossible choice of 'Fairy Tales from Many Lands' illustrated by Arthur Rackham. My memory of this book, long untouched on my shelf, is of the smooth colour plates, interspersed among the rough to the touch pages of text. A treat as I progressed through each tale, these illustrations drew me in to imaginary lands of deep colour, fine line and exquisitely fragile and grotesque characters.
My study of Print history has revealed that the historical rarity of colour images in childhood story books was due to the lack of capability of mass printing methods and binding techniques. Unable to print colour ink onto cheaper paper, publishing companies kept colour plates, printed on luxuriously smooth paper, to a minimum. The illustrated plates were tipped in as single sheets or bound around the sewn sections of text. These were pages to cherish and adore.