Archive for category Author: Angus Hyland

The Book of The Raven || Angus Hyland & Caroline Roberts

Ever since this arrived, it has been sitting on my desk, as opposed to being consigned to the “must get round to that” pile. It has several page markers in it, including the delivery note for an obscure book about the fishing industry (my reading is nothing if not eclectic), a reminder to complete my tax return and details of how to pay my electricity bill. So much of it captures the imagination that you’ll mark the pages with anything that comes to hand. Probably best not to be eating a bacon sandwich.

It helps, of course, to be a bit of a birdwatcher and a particular fan of Corvids (the book includes the whole family, despite the headline title) and of inking. Although colour is anything but absent from these pages, crows, ravens and rooks are black as ink and therefore a challenge to the artist.

The approach is the same as The Book of The Tree, in which Angus Hyland was also involved and I sense a theme, possibly a series here. There are well chosen illustrations in a variety of styles from a variety of artists, as well as history, natural history, legend and lore. Of course the Mad Hatter’s riddle is included: Why is a raven like a writing desk? Carroll’s own explanation makes no sense which, knowing Carroll, I suspect is deliberate. But why not “Because they both have quills as black as ink”?

What can I say? I absolutely love this. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but the choice of material, production and format are pitch-perfect if it’s yours.

The back cover quotes Edgar Allen Poe: “Darkness there and nothing more”. Oh, there’s a lot more, mate.

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The Book of the Tree || Angus Hyland & Kendra Wilson

Trees, you love them, don’t you? Majestic beings that are at the centre of the countryside or indeed any landscape. Books have been published celebrating them ever since people started chopping them down to make paper. Oh.

I’m being unfair. This is an absolute delight and includes paintings and photographs from mostly Twentieth Century artists with nicely-judged explanations of how arboreal subjects fit into their work and life. Some, such as Claude Monet, get several pages and in these cases, the specific focus provides a fresh perspective on their work. You also get, of course, a variety of different styles and once again the single-subject approach allows for comparisons to be made that a wider view tends to obscure.

The result is a fascinating and enjoyable book that works whether you take an extended tour, concentrate on a specific theme or just dip into it at random. The authors never lose sight of the fact that the images are the most important thing and keep the words to the minimum required to complement them, but without leaving you wishing they’d said a bit more.

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