Not only am I a proud Londoner, I’m also a slight closet patriot in general, something I only realised in recent years. I love my home town, I love the rolling hills of Gloucestershire (where I now live) and with every season that approaches I think to myself ‘Ah, this is my favourite season in Britain’. To see the icons of this ‘green and pleasant land’ refreshed and reworked by illustrator and printmaker Paul Farrell in his new book Great Britain in Colour is even more of a treat for the eyes than I anticipated.
Paul presents these recognisable symbols of our landscape, from Big Ben to the White Cliffs of Dover, in new light and it is like a breath of fresh air. This is no tourist book to be flogged on the cheap outside Baker Street next to the statue of Sherlock Holmes. This book is thoughtful, graphic, subtle in approach and of a much higher calibre. And, dare I say it, probably more appealing to the natives, who would appreciate this pictorial love letter to Great Britain.
Paul picks out less obvious elements of big grand scenes to play their part; flowers are blooming alongside huge landmark buildings; and symbols of British history and tradition stand out in full glory, even the red poppy, welsh tapestry and fish and chips are all represented.
At the back there is a glossary which reads like Paul’s personal notes about his work. I really liked that this was separate from the main images, so I could just pass through the book and develop my own ideas, before hearing from the artist himself. But, more than that, here you can get a sense of the artist himself, and I loved his words on Jane Austen, Robin Hood, and London (naturally), to name a few.
Perfect for adults and for children alike in my opinion – who can resist these playful colours and shapes, no matter how old you are? – this really is a lovely book, a beautiful object, and a piece of Paul’s work which I can have for myself.