Monday, 21 July 2008

Trees & Mr.Badmin


It must seem slightly odd, posting a poster about March trees in July. Mind you, the weather round here recently has had me out gathering wood for the stove, I can tell you. No, this one's because I've been fortunate enough to land some Shell Posters. In the 1950s these were essential educative wall decorations, and a set of Nature Studies adorned my school hall. No.6 June was a favourite, with the same scene of a country house divided into day and night, but they could equally be illustrations of the salient features of counties or the twelve months of a year in trees. Artist S.R.Badmin (1906-88) produced this series, brilliant evocations of the natural history on our doorsteps with each illustration showing pertinent trees with their leaves and fruit in the foreground. Badmin will be remembered for the Ladybird Book of Trees (still one of the best) but his watercolour skills produced hundreds of atmospheric paintings and his fine eye many meticulous line drawings. I was very privileged to be invited to Mr.Badmin's West Sussex home in 1987, and my girlfriend commented that it must be wonderful for him to have the South Downs just outside his big picture window. He poured out some more tea and said "Too close for me my dear".

9 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

Loveluy example of how well Badmin could work both in close detail (those finely delineated foreground catkins) and with distant landmarks like the Lombardy poplars, where he almost convinces you that he's drawn every twig. I'd advise everyone to click on the image and examine closely.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Delightful. Completely delightful.

Jon Dudley said...

Thank you for championing these unsung heroes and heroines of design and illustration. We took these incredibly high standards absolutely for granted at the time and it's only when you try to emulate this stuff yourself that you realise just how talented these people were.

John Nez said...

Amazing illustration... and being a children's book illustrator myself, I much appreciate the skill it must have required.

Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it elucidates dozens of tree varieties too.

That was the 'Golden Age' of illustration... seeing as how today's artists often substitute unbridled expression for studied craft.

:0)

Peter Ashley said...

Welcome Mr.Nez to this blog. I love your painting Desert River.

Toby Savage said...

Yes. Me too. I particuarly like the top version on your Blog, John, where it is leaning against a background that echoes the work. I'm going to look at more of the work. back soon.

Sue said...

Thanks for posting this splendid picture. I'm lucky enough to have "The Shell Nature Book" - the copy survived my childhood (!) - and there are some lovely evocative pictures in there. August is a great favourite of mine: a mass of willow and boys bathing in a stream.

Peter Ashley said...

Hallo Sue. Very pleased to see you on my blog. You're so right about Badmin's August, and I've always loved December with the logging crane in the woods and holly in the foreground. If anyone's interested, apart from the Shell Posters, all these tree pictures are in The Shell Guide to Trees and Shrubs, and I note that there are still some very reasonably-priced copies out there. Try www.abebooks.co.uk

Sarah said...

How lovely that you got to visit my Grandfather, but unheard of that HE poured the tea! That would have been done by my Gran!!