Last Saturday, Jeannine and I drove up to Brattleboro, VT to attend two talks being held, as part of the Brattleboro Literary Festival, at the Brattleboro Museum of Art. The two speakers we were looking forward to hearing were Salley Mavor, the illustrator about whom I have written before in this blog, and Ken Burns, the noted creator of "The Civl War" and other documentaries.
To tell the truth, I was more interested in hearing Salley speak and watching her give her slideshow presentation, and as it turned out (due to what can only be seen as abysmal planning on the part of the event organizers) that was a good thing, because the venue chosen for the Ken Burns talk was WAY too small for someone that well-known. To illustrate that point -- ten minutes before the talk was to begin, it was already "standing room only", and I watched from the outside of the building as dozens of people were turned away. Just ridiculous.
Jeannine ended up staying for the Burns talk, but given that it required standing in one spot in a stuffy room for an hour and some minutes, I declined the opportunity. As I told Jeannine later, there are some people (she being one of them) for whom I would do that, but Ken Burns is not one of them (no offense to Mr. Burns). And from what Jeannine told me of the talk later, it sounds like I didn't miss much.
But it was hardly a wasted trip -- and not just because I was able to go to the Vermont Deli (one of our favorite food joints in Brattleboro) during the time the Burns event was going on and pick up some yummy stuff for supper -- but because before the fiasco of the Burns thing, we were both able to attend Salley Mavor's delightful presentation about the development of what she has come to call her "fabric reliefs". I came away from it with even MORE admiration and appreciation of her artistry.
(All of the images of Salley's works here are from photos I took during the slide show, and all the original images are ©2011 by Salley Mavor.)
One interesting thing is that she was thinking in this way of combining real stuff with flat artwork from an early age, as you can see in this slide of pages from a little storybook she made when she was eight.
I was especially interested to see the slides showing the thumbnail sketches which she does to work out the layouts for her illustrations, before she begins the arduous work of meticulously crafting the three-dimensional pieces which she will later assemble into the finished work.
Salley had many slides of work from various points in her career, all of them fascinating and beautiful, but I must say that these bugs she made some years ago simply blew my mind. I think they are absolutely gorgeous.
She told a funny story about the spider she'd made (which is, sadly, not in the photograph) that she used to decorate the inside of the refrigerator in the house she was sharing with other people at the time.
And many of the last group of slides had to do with the development process for the cover she did recently for "The Horn Book", which is a periodical about the world of children's literature. Here's one slide with a view of the work in progress, with Salley's sketch for the layout on the right hand side…
… another with a closeup view of one of the figures she made for the cover…
…. and the finished cover.
Wow! Just incredible. -- PL