Friday, 17 March 2017


Home
Written and Illustrated by Carson Ellis

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Published by Walker Books, 2015

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What a gem of a book. Through confident watercolour shapes, patterned detail and a beautifully chosen limited colour palette, this book celebrates different types of homes. Ellis shifts between the familiarity of city flats with graffitied walls and smoking chimneys (Fig 01) to fantastical underwater castles or tiny fairy-land houses. The everyday nudges up against the magical, and both are equally evocative and believable.

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(Fig 01)

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Ellis’s attention to detail rewards re-reading. Her ability to capture the weary curve of the roadie’s back as he pushes along a speaker, (Fig 02) or the cheeky toothy grin of the trouser-less roof-climbing child (Fig 03) is a testament to her narrative skill. The decorative pattern-making to depict stones, tiles, stripy socks, feathers, foliage, clothing, folk art or net curtains (Fig 04) is well-balanced against the stronger shapes and adds warmth to each spread.

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(Fig 02)


(Fig 03)

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It is wonderful to see such a rich range of dark colour in a book for children. Alongside the lighter tones of teal, peach, browns and vibrant red, are delicious deep tones of indigo, umber and rich black. Every page uses white through to these inky dark colours - a deft use of the tonally broad limited colour palette.

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(Fig 04)

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The variety of homes are drawn together at the end of the book with the artist in her own space. The clues to other spreads (the icon from babushka’s cottage or the mermaid from the messy home) decorate the studio space as she works on an illustration from the book we are reading (Fig 05). Immediately you want to start again and seek out the details page by page.

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(Fig 05)

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I can imagine sitting with this book with a very young child, relishing each detail. I know this would spark conversation with an older child - where would you live? or whose home is this? But this would also be treasured by anyone interested in illustration and design and the book as a beautiful object.

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Do look up more of Carson's work. It is beautiful. 


http://www.carsonellis.com/

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