Gill Bradley, Monkey band at large in Notting Hill 1927.
It’s official: I am a twit. Despite being invited by The AOI to sit on the judging panel for this year’s Serco Prize for Illustration I managed to entirely miss the actual exhibition at the London Transport Museum. Doh. This I put down to my current inability to attend evening events such as the preview night (I keep telling myself that these difficult toddler years won’t last long…) combined with the fact that I completely misread the end date of the show. Double Doh. So, despite my best intentions to see the artworks in reality before I blogged about my favourites, in the end this is a very late post, based on the same images we were asked to chose from as judges. It was a tough choice, with such a high standard to choose from and so many entertaining tales to learn along the way, but here are the winning choices, and below them some of my favourite London Stories:
Designer and animator Gill Bradley was declared the unanimous winner with her depiction of a not so well known story of an escaped monkey jazz band (see above) – chosen for it’s vibrant and unusual subject matter, with the added bonus that the event took place on London Transport.
I particularly loved Frost Fair by runner up Nicholas Stevenson, featuring curious characters at one of the famous Frost Fairs held on the Thames when it froze over.
Third prize went to Eric Chow for The Lady Bridge, a technically brilliant and evocative interpretation of the rebuilding of Waterloo Bridge by women during the Second World War.
Melvyn Evans‘ Long Wolf and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was a popular artwork, depicting an infamous occasion during the reign of Queen Victoria, when a Sioux Chief brought his show to the American Exhibition for Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. There were 300 performances and 2.5 million tickets sold but sadly Long Wolf contracted pneumonia and died in London, forgotten until 1991.
Eliza Southwood’s Oranges and Lemons riffs on the well known song (which was a popular theme for many illustrators) and features a glorious graphical representation of the actual churches from the tune.
Everyone loved the tapestry inspired River Pageant 2012 by Sue Prince.
There were many more idiosyncratic notions of London to chose from, such as Richard Williams’ illustration Wide Boy, with many of London’s most iconic attractions stowed away inside a capacious coat.
Pelican Lunch features a pelican attacking a pigeon (apparently based on a rather upsetting incident found on youtube), by Elisa Cunningham.
I was most taken with the striking image of a White Bear by Paul Garland, based on the story of the polar bear kept at the Tower of London by Henry III, with a chain long enough that it could swim in the Thames and catch fish. In a nice decorative touch London transport signs make up the links of the chain.
Nathan Reed’s playful image of The Guardians of the Tower was one of many images that focused on these famous birds.
According to the tradition, the giants Gog and Magog are guardians of the City of London, depicted here asleep under the bustling city by Helen Lord.
Finally, Starlings on the Clock by Sonia Poli is an intricate papercut collage based on the moment in 1995 when a flock of starlings landed on the minute hand of Big Ben and put the time back by 5 minutes.
There were many more images that I loved, so do check out the London Transport Museum website, where you can still buy your favourite in poster form.
- About a River: The Serco Prize for Illustration at the London Transport Museum
- Serco Prize for Illustration 2014: Call for Entries
- Photography exhibition: ‘New York Sleeps’
- Brutalist dreams: The Balfron Project
- Art Listings