After going to Lawrence Zeegen’s, the curator of Ladybird by Design, lecture on the nostalgic LadyBird books I decided to visit the House of Illustration Exhibition. The Exhibition included iconic images from series of books, such as People At Work, Shopping With Mother, Science, Nature and Key Words and rare photographs. Though I did not grow up reading many of these books, I do remember my fathers books he had kept from his childhood.
It was clear that there was a strict lay out to these children books, text on the left and illustration on the right. The detailed illustrations contrast the simplified information, easy to read and easy to learn. My dad fondly recalled that these books taught him how to read.
The nature books had possibly my favourite illustrations capturing natures beauty and idillic landscapes. The colourful and incredibly detailed illustrations for were commissioned by many well-known illustrators such as Eric Winter & Robert Lumley, John Berry, Harry Wingfield, Charles Tunnicliffe & Robert Ayton. Zeegen had commented on the transition from the 50s to the 70s particularly through Peter and Jane. Their clothing had evolved to the styles and more relaxed way of living.
These illustrations also explored the change in gender roles. In the illustration of Peter & Jane playing in the 50s, Peter is clearly more dominant as he is allowed to bat. Jane hasn’t even begun to throw the ball, wearing a clean white dress to play sport. However, 70’s Jane has hit the ball out of Peter’s reach, wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
This picture reflected the gender role at work during the production of Ladybird. Zeegen said in his accompanying book that John Berry “captured the essence of British working life, albeit from a mostly male perspective. At a time when men and women still had very defined, stereotypical gender roles, women seldom feature in the series, and where they do we are reminded of their supporting role”.
After receiving my very own LadyBird book at Zeegen’s lecture, I have started my collection, my most recent find South American Mammals.