Thursday, 31 January 2013


A drawing of a bunch of celery by JVL, 1960.

This was drawn when I was a student at Salford School of Art

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Bruce

Illiustration by JVL for the chapter 'The Bruce' in Epics of the Middle Ages, the Folio Society, 2005

Monday, 28 January 2013

Unbirthday present

Illustration by JVL in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There
Artists' Choice editions, 2011

 The illustration depicts a diagram of Alice Liddell's days of receiving 'unbirthday' presents. You'll see one blank (white) square when she doesn't receive an 'unbirthday' present because that is when it was her actual birthday. Humpty Dumpty was very proud to have received a cravat as an 'unbirthday' present from the White King and Queen, suggesting to Alice that you can receive 364 'unbirthday' presents rather than only one single birthday present.

It's all rather ridiculous

'It's all rather ridiculous: is the rest of the day worth it?' A notebook drawing by JVL, 2004.

The drawing on the right-hand page was a response to being taken aback when listening to Magdalena Kozena singing the aria 'J'ai verse le poison' from Massenet's opera ClĂ©opatre on the a radio one morning . It was so marvellous that there was little point in doing anything else practical during the day but produce this drawing.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Flies and the Honey Jar

Illustrations by JVL for the fable of 'The Flies and the Honey Jar', 
Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape 1989.

It is a fable about a honey jar falling from a shelf and spilling honey, with the result that a number of flies are quick to feed themselves on it. While they were gorging the sweet substance their feet soon became clogged and they became immobilised and died. One of the flies, in its dying breath, called out "What fools we are, just for the sake of a rapturous minute, we have destroyed ourselves."

Saturday, 26 January 2013

'King Horn'

 An illustration by JVL for the chapter 'King Horn' in British Myths and Legends
The Folio Society, 1998

Friday, 25 January 2013

An arrow in Harold's eye

'One of these arrows struck Harold right in the eye', 
an illustration by JVL in Epics of the Middle Ages, The Folio Society, 2005.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Door locks and school items

Door locks, drawn by JVL for a magazine article in Good Housekeeping, 
giving advice about locking systems, 1968.

These two items are typical of the kind of freelance illustration work I did in the 1960s.

School items, drawn by JVL for a WH Smith newspaper advertisement entitled 'Back to School', 1965.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Reynard the Fox

Reynard the Fox and Grimbard the Badger crossing a bridge, an illustration by JVL 
from Reynard the Fox (retold by Roy Brown), Abelard-Schuman, 1968.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Dong with a Luminous Nose

This is one of 8 illustrations by JVL for 'The Dong with a Luminous Nose' 
in The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear, Jonathan Cape, 1984 and republished 2013.

And now each night, and all night long,
Over the plains still roams the Dong;
And above the wail of the Chimp and Snipe
You may hear the squeak of his plaintive pipe
While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
Lonely and wild - all night he goes, -
The Dong with a Luminous Nose!
And all who watch in the midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace or lofty Tower.
Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
Moving along the dreary night...

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Lion and the Mouse

'The Lion and the Mouse', an illustration by JVL from Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape,  1989.

This is a fable about a lion who caught a mouse with the intention of eating him. The mouse begged for his life, claiming that he was far too small for a lion to eat and that he simply would not be a decent meal for such a mighty beast. The lion thus freed the mouse. Some while later the lion was caught in a net by trappers. The mouse saw this and immediately started to gnaw at the ropes of the net, eventually freeing the lion from his bonds. It is fable that shows that the weak and humble are capable of helping the strong and powerful if those who are strong are compassionate and supportive to the weak.

Friday, 18 January 2013


Both these illustrations by JVL come from Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking-Glass
Artists' Choice Editions, 2011.

Since it is snowing, while I write, I thought it would be appropriate to post these images.
In the book Alice says to one of her pet cats (before lapsing into her dream in the armchair):
'Do you hear the snow against the window-panes, Kitty?' The top illustration shows the chess position during the early part of the story with Alice as the white pawn.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Cat and the Cock

'The Cat and the Cock', an illustration by JVL for Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989.

This illustration depicts our own pet cat at the time -  'Ginny', near the hen coop in our garden.

It is a fable about a cat  looking for excuses to kill the cock. The cat blamed the cat for making such a crowing noise at night when people were in bed. The cock's excuse was that he helped them get up in the morning so that they could go to work. The cat then accused the cock for having incestuous relationships with his mother, sisters and offspring.  The cock replied that this meant that the hens laid more eggs thus benefitting their owner. The cat, fed up with these excuses, and who was intent on eating the cock in the first place gobbled him up.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


'Forty-two', a notebook drawing by JVL, which was also included as a tailpiece in 
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Artists' Choice Editions, 

 The number 42 has a resonance in Lewis Carroll’s works. In Carroll’s poem The Hunting of the Snark forty-two is the number of the Baker’s items of luggage and in the Preface to the first edition of this poem Carroll mentioned Rule 42 of the ‘Bellman’s Code’, a rule that states that “No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm’. The same number crops up as another ‘rule’ in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when the King of Hearts announces in court – “Rule Forty-two. ALL PERSONS MORE THAN A MILE HIGH TO LEAVE THE COURT”. Tenniel drew 42 illustrations for the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 
There seems to be a magnetic attraction to the number. The number forty-two also became well known in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was a number that was put forward as representing “the meaning of life, the universe, and everything”, calculated by the computer called ‘Deep Thought’. 
In June 2008 the House of Commons in the UK voted on extending a pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days, though this was later defeated in the House of Lords. It has also turned up recently as the number of days in which parents in the UK must register the birth of their child. This illustration was drawn in a notebook and we decided to include it in the book as an afterthought. There are of course 42 instances of the number 42 in the picture.
Oh yes - the number '42' also appears in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, as - ‘fortytwo hairs off his uncrown’ (FW 1:169/13) and - ‘as a taste for storik’s fortytooth’ (FW 1: 177/26).

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


An unpublished illustration by JVL of the first chapter of Ulysses by James Joyce, 1996.

Monday, 14 January 2013

'It was the best butter you know'

'It was the best butter you know'- a notebook drawing by JVL, 2008.

'It was the best butter you know' - an illustration by JVL, for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Artists' Choice Editions, 2009.

The remark - 'It was the best butter you know' - was made by the March Hare during the Mad Tea Party in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. He had used the butter in an attempt to lubricate the Hatter's watch. The watch told the day of the month.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Punch and Judy

'Punch and Judy', an illustration by JVL for the magazine Holly Leaves, Christmas 1965.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

'Punch and Judy' mugs

Designs for 6 'Punch and Judy' mugs by JVL for Staffordshire Potteries, 1973

Friday, 11 January 2013

'Ah no, not you too'

'Ah no, not you too', an illustration by JVL for a booklet Two by Two, devised by Kam Tang (then a student at Brighton) in 1994

Thursday, 10 January 2013

An Old Man of the Hills

'There was an Old Man of the Hills', an illustration by JVL from The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear, Jonathan Cape, 1984 and 2012.

There was an Old Man of the Hills
Who lived upon Syrup of Squills;
Which he drank all night long, to the sound of a gong,
That persistent Old Man of the hills.

Edward Lear (1812-1888)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Chameleon, screw and screwdriver

A notebook drawing of 1968 by JVL

The Giant Jam Sandwich covers

Four different covers of The Giant Jam Sandwich, story and illustrations by JVL and verses by Janet Burroway, Jonathan Cape 1972.

The top left hand design was my original, not wanting to give the story away by just having a single wasp on a tree stump surveying the scene of the village. The book is still in print after 41 years

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Monday, 7 January 2013

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The 'corkscrew' path

An illustration of the 'corkscrew' path by JVL from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass
Artists' Choice Editions, 2011.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

"I love my love with an H"

An illustration by JVL of the passage "I love my love with an H" from Lewis Carroll's 
Through the Looking-Glass, Artists' Choice Editions, 2011.

Friday, 4 January 2013

'A drawing of muchness'

An illustration of 'a drawing of a muchness' by JVL for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Artists' Choice Edition, 2009.

For this illustration I attempted to draw just a few items of ‘everything that begins with an M’, such as ‘mouse-traps, and the moon, and memory and muchness’. The notion of such a drawing was muttered by the Dormouse when he told Alice the story of the three little sisters in the treacle well who were learning how to draw. In this picture the March Hare presides over the illustration.
‘Memory’ is exemplified by a knot, as well as a depiction of a ‘hippocampus’, the name of the seat of memory in the brain, which has the shape of a seahorse (the word hippocampus is also the Greek word for seahorse). Conveying a notion of ‘muchness’ visually has been attempted by incorporating addition, multiplication, and infinity signs. On the top right hand side of the moon there is a hand in the act of drawing and a pencil above it – a reminder that this is an illustration of a drawing! And at the bottom we have a strip showing the phases of the moon  - ‘M’ for moon, moon reflecting time’s passage, and moon connected with madness and lunacy.

Here is the actual passage of text during the 'Mad Tea Party' in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

  `They were learning to draw,' the Dormouse went on, yawning and
rubbing its eyes, for it was getting very sleepy; `and they drew
all manner of things--everything that begins with an M--'
  `Why with an M?' said Alice.
  `Why not?' said the March Hare.
  Alice was silent.
  The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was going
off into a doze; but, on being pinched by the Hatter, it woke up
again with a little shriek, and went on:  `--that begins with an
M, such as mouse-traps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness--
you know you say things are "much of a muchness"--did you ever
see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?'
  `Really, now you ask me,' said Alice, very much confused, `I
don't think--'
  `Then you shouldn't talk,' said the Hatter.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

'Inside a Head'

'Inside a Head', a mixed media image by JVL carried out in 1965 for the fun of it.

I have just delivered this to Paul Burgess who, with Roderick Mills, is organising an exhibition of a Brighton students and staff who have been involved in the Art College/Polytechnic/University over the past 50 years. This will be included among other pictures of mine, which I will post on the blog later. The exhibition starts on the 18th of January at Grand Parade, Brighton.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

'Twas brillig...

''Twas brillig', an illustration by JVL for Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, Artists' Choice edition, 2011.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Here is a translation of the verse, which I worked out before illustrating the passage. It is based on helpful information provided by Humpty Dumpty in the story itself and by Lewis Carroll elsewhere.

It was time for broiling dinner at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the smooth and slimy, lizard-like badgers (with corkscrew noses and tails) scratched like dogs and screwed out holes into a rain-soaked hillside beneath a sundial. The wingless, thin and shabby, mop-like parrots (with their turned-up beaks, with feathers sticking out all round and who had made their nests under a sundial) were most miserable and flimsy. And the green pigs, that had lost their way, made a kind of a sneezing noise in between their bellowing and whistling.