Friday, so what could be better than some Barbara Jones birds, even if they are a bit grubby round the edges.
Todays flock are pretty self-explanatory, playing in another lovely BBC Schools booklet of songs and music for children. (I have actually mentioned these before, but now a copy is in my own hands, so you get to see it again).
Along with the songs ,there are further Barbara Jones drawings inside. These are in a much freer style, but still with her trademark exccentricity.
Mind you, the songs invite it. The illustration above is for a traditional folk song called Green Broom which – as you might guess from the illustration – is pretty much a pagan welcome to spring. While the young man worrying about his hair below goes with Benjamin Britten’s setting of Begone Dull Care.
Also in there are bits of Schubert and Grieg, along with Victorian ballads and Norwegian folk songs. It’s almost as though Barbara Jones has had a hand in the selection process too.
The birds came as part of a selection box of these leaflets, all from the 1950s. They’re all interesting, but a couple of them particularly so. Summer 1954 was done by Derrick Hass.
We’ve discussed him on here before (see the comments too for some memories of him) but he’s worth mentioning again in the context of what designers went on to do in the 1960s and beyond. The prevailing story is that the rise of the all-in advertising agency put paid to the old-style poster designer: a few – like Eckersley and Games – carried on, some like Henrion and Pick formed corporate identity consultancies, and who knows what happened to the rest. But Derrick Hass bucked the trend by not only going into agency work but becoming an enormously successful and respected creative director who worked and won awards right up until retirement age, forty years after he did these.
That’s quite an achievement.
Meanwhile I just like this Heather Lacey illustration, perhaps because it reminds me of illustrations in Puffin books.
I can find nothing out about her at all, mainly because half of the internet seems to be called Heather Lacey. If anyone knows more, please let me know.
These booklets, taken all together, were quite an achievement. Every term, a school would get a new set of illustrations along with their music, perhaps not all of as wonderful as the ones I have chosen but certainly all good. I’ve said it before but I’m quite happy to say it again; I’d love it if I thought my daughter was being exposed to both music and illustration of this quality in her primary school lessons. But I’m pretty sure she isn’t, and that’s a profound loss.
We’ve grown used to seeing this kind of top-down culture (this is great art, you must know about it and I am right) as being elitist, discriminatory and rife with snobbery. We don’t believe any more that the BBC or indeed any kind of media should be exposing us to high art, rather that they should be giving us what we want. There is some truth in all of this, and in any case we can’t turn the clock back. But we should also remember that sometimes, just sometimes, the result was profoundly democratic, and particularly so in things like these booklets where the art just arrives without any comment. All children should be given the chance to see and hear illustrations and music like this. They don’t have to like them – and we shouldn’t think any the less of them if they don’t. But if we just give them photocopied sheets of popular songs, we are taking away from them the chance of knowing these things exist. And for a few children that might be the chance of knowing who or what they wanted to become.