I went to the AOI's Images 33 'Best of British Illustration' launch on Tuesday, and was able to gorge on pictures for an evening with a nice glass of orange juice in my hand.
I had two pieces in the show, but as usual with the timing of Images, by the time the show is up you're fed up of your own pieces and can't wait to feast on the other work there. This show had a noticeable increase in hands-on media - drawing, acrylic, 3d, collage, gouache, mixed-media - which was very refreshing and encouraging as further evidence of a gentle move away from the digital bingeing of the late nineties and noughties.
First off it was great to see my friend Kevin's work proudly displayed. Kevin and I were part of the same agency years ago, which we had a hand in setting up, and have kept in touch ever since as part of a circle of close fellow illustrators - the five of us have weathered many illo-storms over the years! Jill Calder is one of them, and she too had her beautiful rainbow-coloured garden piece in the show (last year her work graced the cover of the Images annual too).
Andy Smith won a Gold for his Sight and Sound cover (Chris Brawn, the commissioner, must be a lover of typography as I've recently taken up the mantle of the S&S covers myself) and rightly so - a bold, red, squawking 'coq' on a paper background made for a beautiful screenprint. I did something I've never done before in my life: saw Andy wearing the obligatory name badge and approached with 'It's Andy Smith, I'm such a fan!" Eek. But I meant it, I do love Andy's work, and I've never met him in person. (I was by myself as my +1 guest was still in the pub with chums...which probably increased the stalker look).
Another prize, though, I was really not so sure about. The student piece by Amy Knibbs entitled 'Dandylion' was a Gold winner - several representations of a dandelion, very delicate and pretty, but not prize-winning stuff. Across the room were the pieces I felt very strongly should have taken that prize, and hadn't. Liz Kay's 'I'm A Woman' was a quartet of beautifully-rendered, immaculately-painted lyrics from Peggy Lee's 'I'm A Woman', complete with charming, cleverly-observed illustrations, and all built into a challengingly-sized frame. Funny, gently stylish and technically very accomplished, I stood around them staring into the detail and waiting for the stude to arrive so I could congratulate her on her work. Quote honestly, I was staggered that this piece - and others in the collection (Julia Bruderer in particular) - had been overlooked. Dandylion, I felt, looked like the start of a promising way of working that could develop further...but lacked the depth and thoughtfulness of Liz's work.
Overall I enjoyed the show tremendously, and as an added bonus bumped into an old friend as I hurled myself on the tube to Elephant and Castle. Cyrus Deboo and I were part of the same agency a few years ago, but lost touch - though we've kept an eye on eachother's work. He was well and busy, and up to some intriguing stuff that he refused, with a glint in his eye, to expand on. But for now, here's Cyrus's work. It really was lovely to hook up with an old chum and catch up on news.
The Images 33 Show is on at London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle, London SE1 6SB , and will tour the country over the coming months.