A Double Bill for you this month! TWO book reviews: This Is Edinburgh, and a monograph of its author/illustrator, Miroslav Sasek.
Edinburgh is a great city, to live in and visit. It was Sasek’s fifth “This Is…” destination, and a favourite, except for the rain and cold (he recommends a hot water bottle.) He found that the summer light made for good working conditions.
“I worked from 4am until midnight, and finished the book in two months.”
His process involved researching and reading before the trip, then, on arrival, walking and drawing, drawing, drawing, drawing. Sketchbook studies would lead to a page-by-page plan, followed by starting the final illustrations, with penciled notes in the margins, while out on location. Work continued back at the hotel. I wonder where he stayed in Edinburgh? The artwork sent to print was done in pencil with watercolour and gouache.
Sasek travelled with two suitcases, one filled with art materials.
I love the humour, the large format, and the well-observed detail of This Is Edinburgh. On the front endpaper Sasek is seen walking into the book in a sharp suit, carrying a portfolio under his arm. By the back cover, he is walking away, playing the bagpipes, wearing a kilt, transformed by the Scottish capital experience. Explore the castle, streets, characters, tartans and curiosities that make the city so appealing to walk around, whilst appreciating witty text and charming vignettes.
His skill is in how he presents the familiar in a new way, with a respectful eye – a visitor displaced from his own country.
Martin Salisbury knows a lot about books – he’s a Professor of Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. He’ll reveal some of Sasek’s story; how he studied architecture and learned how to fly a glider; how he got a job as ‘expeditionary agent’ for a travel company; how a Czech in exile found himself in Paris; how his graphic style developed and led to a series of work that has delighted all ages for decades.
Visit the Sasek Foundation in Prague!
The (updated) Travelling Bookbinder’s Guide to Edinburgh can be found here.
Use the code bookbinderbookreview10 to receive a 10% discount, on either or both books, when you order from Golden Hare Books, valid until 28th February 2022.