4/17/2010

One Old Oxford Ox




Following on from my last post I promised to tell you about Oxford. We stayed overnight in St Stephen’s Hall, one of the many student halls available to the general public for bed and breakfast. Previously we have stayed at Keble College but this was out of action due to renovation; no matter, St Stephen’s did not disappoint and as an added bonus it had car parking, a rarity in central Oxford. I loved staying in this tranquil, cloistered building which was surprisingly warm and friendly with its hidden herb gardens and quiet corners (see top two images, click to enlarge).

It was only a short stroll down the Cowley road into the town centre where we visited the Ashmoleon, The Natural History Museum with its famous dodo and the most amazingly quirky Pitt Rivers Museum. Oxford looked beautiful basking in spring sunshine, which made its honey coloured stone glow. I love to peep into secret gardens and soak in the ambience of this famous city with its bicycles and lovely old pubs and bookshops.



On our way home we returned to reality and caught the Friday afternoon traffic on the motorway which took us to the NEC where “Books Illustrated” were exhibiting original children’s book illustration including for the first time the amazing Nicola Bayley whose work I have admired for many years now. Included in the exhibition was a small selection of work from my book “White is the moon” which you can just about make out in the photograph. The exhibition will tour various venues around the country, the dates and places are available from the website here.



Nicola kindly gave me her permission to show you some of her work which you can see in more detail here on her website. I have a collection of her books on my shelf starting with “One Old Oxford Ox” one of the many books she illustrated for Jonathan Cape. She is perhaps best known for her amazingly detailed, exquisite, miniature paintings of cats, possibly the best known being “The Mousehole Cat.” Perhaps my all time favourite and desert island book is “All for the Newborn Baby” by Walker Books which is what I can only describe a work of pure genius with jeweled medieval inspired decorations; one for keeping and handling with white cotton gloves!

19 comments:

  1. How lovely, and what an honor for you to be seen with such prominent illustrators

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  2. Valerie, I would love to be able to see that exhibit.

    Here's a coincidence...I have a copy of One Old Oxford Ox, bought decades ago as inspiration ... back when I thought I might be a children's book creator. Nicola Bayley and you really are such fine artists, providing riches for your many readers.

    xo

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  3. What a great adventure:) The Pitt-Rivers Museum is very interesting but quite spooky at the same time. The college looks a lovely place to stay:)

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  4. What a great trip and thanks for highlighting Nichola's work - wonderful. How did I miss her.

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  5. What marvellous illustrations,thank you for sharing them. Your lovely descriptions have made me want to return to Oxford.

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  6. Enjoyed reading about your trip. You were actually in Fritillary land,I am sure you know the famous meadow at Oxford.
    Beautiful illustrations, lovely to see them.

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  7. Oh dear, now I have yet ANOTHER wonderful illustrator to collect, Nicola Bayley. I think you are on the same par, and I just purchased one of your beautiful books online a few weeks back, ACORNMOON. I love it! The artwork is simply lovely and the story as well. You have a perfect portrayal of nature that I find so comforting. Acornmoon now sits alongside my Beatrix Potters and Cecily Mary Barkers.
    I love to be inspired by fellow artists.

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  8. Somewhere I would love to visit, Valerie.

    And I do love Nicola Bayley! I think the one about the windmill cat is my favourite, although I haven't seen All For The Newborn Baby which sounds beautiful.

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  9. This, Valerie, is a skill I would almost give my eye-teeth to have. I love the detail, the colour, the overall composition. I also love Oxford - wherever one goes one never loses the feeling that this place is an important centre of learning. Interesting too to look at the word Oxford and realise that originally it really did mean an Ox Ford. Lovely post.

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  10. I enjoyed reading about your Oxford trip and seeing the work of Nicola Bayley. Just magical! xx

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  11. I would love to see that exhibit, if only to see some VG originals.

    I quite agree about "All for the Newborn Baby", it is a work of absolute beauty. Also on the bookshelf here are The Mousehole Cat and The Mouldy.

    Your trip sounds like the perfect combination of business and pleasure.

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  12. Love the examples of your work Val and I've long admired Nicola Bayley also, having bought 'The Mousehole Cat' many years ago, when my daughters' were young. Best wishes, Lesley

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  13. I love Nicola's mousehole cat and so did my children when they were small. They still love to visit Mousehole as the result of reading this book :)
    Your trip sounded wonderful. I really must go and stay in Oxford one of these days.

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  14. OOPs.sorry, brain fog.... I meant ACORNS STORY!

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  15. I share your love and interest in Oxford Valerie. It is a magical place and the colour of the buildings is wonderful, especially in the evening sun. Nicola Bayley is one of my illustration heroines. The Mousehole Cat is just superb and I love the story. I will have to try and get hold of All For The Newborn Baby.

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  16. Oh a Nicola Bayley lover - I have a collection too although I didn't know about the last one you mention. Thanks for the link to hte exhibition - I shall need to check it out.

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  17. Hello Valerie, I love visiting your blog. I have been missing for blog land for awhile. I especially love looking at your beautiful art and touring around the UK with you. Hugs Judy

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  18. I do love oxford, and have fond memories of visits there when i was at school. Thank you for introducing us to Nicolas work, it is stunning.

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  19. Oxford is very great and beautiful place for photo shots! :)
    You know that russian Lenin was in London for a 6 time!! =) How many times was you in London???

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