This sumptuously produced book is a survey of Shirley’s work and showcases over 100 of her paintings from a 30 year career. The format is very slightly larger than usual and, being square, allows paintings in both landscape and upright format to have equal space. Although it’s not instructional, and the text is kept to a minimum, there are plenty of captions and insights that reveal a great deal about the artist’s inner thoughts, approaches and methods of composition.
In terms of a review, it’s hard to do more than describe the book. It is, after all, what it is and stands or falls on whether you like the content. If you’re a fan of Shirley Trevena, this is a book you’ll want and will treasure. You’ll also, I think, be delighted by the quality of the production, and it’s worth saying a bit more about this.
Batsford’s art books generally come in at under £20, but this one is £25 and there’s a reason. That extra money has been spent on the larger format, superb origination and some really top-quality paper. The result, along with a soft cloth cover gives it a feeling of quality that’s above the cover price. Extended budgets often get spent on things which can’t be seen and, frankly, don’t matter. Here, you won’t begrudge the extra few pounds because you can see at every turn what you’re getting.
At this point, I’m going to quote the acknowledgment: “My thanks to my commissioning editor Cathy Gosling for all her support and encouragement. This, and my previous three books, would not have been possible without her.” The truth is that editors are the unsung heroes of book production. They’re the people who find the artists, nurture their careers, encourage them when they get stuck and make sure that all their hard work feeds into a book the author can be proud of. If you’ve bought an art book in the past umpty* years, the chances are you’ll find a similar credit. Authors as varied as Alywn Crawshaw, Anne Blockley, Judi Whitton and Hazel Soan have benefitted from Cathy’s input and her experience has produced some of the best practical art books around. She’s not alone, of course, and this paragraph is also a tribute to all the people who work behind the scenes to make the products that sit so comfortably in your hand and please the eye.
* More than either of us care to be reminded of.
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