Even a bit more.
They’re so wonderful that I not only wanted to find out more about him, but also wanted to see some more of his work, without much luck. Mr Crownfolio got on the case, though, and we don’t yet have anything like a biography, he has turned up these three BBC Schools booklets. This one dates from 1968, and is the most reminiscent of his Motif drawings.
This theatre and orchestra could easily have come from Motif. Here’s its other half.
Nothing inside is quite as good as that, although I do quite like this scratchy little set of musical drawings, which remind me a bit of Barbara Jones, not least in the seemingly random way they’ve been put onto the page.
He was also commissioned to produce another the next year.
I particularly like this illustration inside, which is more than good enough to be framed and hung on a wall.
East Wind (blustering) is the title of the song, along with tempo instructions.
Now I’ve said it before but it’s a point worth repeating, the illustration in these BBC booklets is not only of a fantastically high standard, but also interesting, even edgy. I can’t see children today being exposed to things of this quality as a matter of course. Yes, there are some children’s books which are interesting, risky, eye-opening. But in the general litter of ephemera which is aimed at them at school or at home, is there anything which has ambitions even one tenth as high as these booklets? If there is, I can’t think of it (and I’m not going to post a picture of the CBeebies art magazine to prove my point but trust me, it makes my eyes ache).
Does this matter? Yes I think it probably does. Because this is the third BBC booklet by John Griffiths that we’ve managed to find, dating from 1973.
I was completely taken aback when this fell out of the envelope because know that I sang from this booklet at school. In particular, I remembered the spread below as though I’d only seen it yesterday.
Now I’m not saying that it was John Griffiths’ illustrations that turned me into a design fiend (if I’m honest, I like this booklet the least of the three). But the fact that I can remember these pictures so clearly despite the passing of well over thirty years suggests that I stared at them so hard and so long that they became part of the structure of my brain. So if we are furnishing our children with things that might perhaps last a lifetime, hadn’t we better make sure that we’re giving them something good?