Monday 31 August 2015

Prehistoric Pining: Dinosaur Books and Publications

My previous Prehistoric Pining post related to my love of fibreglass dinosaur parks, specifically the now defunct Dinosaur World in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. This time I would like to feature the dinosaur books that I read as a child that both answered questions and raised several more. They fired the imagination and broadened my understanding of the far distant past and the animals that roamed within it. I’ve always been fascinated with educational books particularly ones aimed at younger readers and the part illustration plays in creating interest in a subject and conveying information. I have many books about dinosaurs but this post is devoted to the dinosaur books I had growing up that both maintained my interest in the subject and played a small part in my artistic style. Be warned, as you may expect by now this post contains nostalgic ramblings…

The Mysterious World of Dinosaurs, 1980.
Written by John Heritage and illustrated by W. Francis Phillipps and “other artists” this book was published by Treasurepress and educates the readers about, “the mighty animals that ruled the world of prehistory described and illustrated in all their ferocious grandeur!”. That it did, this was not only an integral part in my interest in prehistory but also one of the earliest books that I ever owned. If memory serves the book was a Christmas gift from Santa who must have noticed my interest in dinosaurs... As is often the case with books written about early life that are older than one year it has some errors in it. But not that it matters it has resided on my bookcase for the past 35 years and I have looked through it several times over. Not that I needed to as each one of the illustrations of dinosaurs fighting or eating each other have been forever etched onto my subconscious, the cover especially so.

Collins Guide to Dinosaurs, 1983.
Dr Angela Milner and Dr Ralph E. Molnar served as general consultants on this “comprehensive field guide” intended to serve as a “concise, up-to-date key to the dinosaurs- their physical characteristics, behaviour, evolution, extinction, fossilisation, discovery and display”. Nobody could argue with that the book is illustrated throughout and packed full of information, facts and diagrams and of all the dino related books my younger self borrowed from our local library this was my favourite. That is why I was delighted to find the exact same library book at a jumble sale a couple of years later complete with library stamps and sticker on the spine! I turned a blind eye to this crime and added the book to my own private collection and it has been with me ever since. I refuse to name the guilty culprit that neglected to return the book to the library, I know who it was…she wrote her name inside…  

The Natural History of the Dinosaur, 1989
Back in around 1992 my grandparents having been away on holiday returned with gifts for my siblings and I. My sister had a toy horse, my brother a pair of football boots and I received this book confirming that our grandmother knew her grandchildren well. Originally published under the title The Day of the Dinosaur in 1978 John Man’s book was reprinted ten years later and it too possessed the same qualities that I have described in the other books regarding information and pictures. Of all the books I had read this one had a wealth of photographs in it as well, I was particularly fascinated with the photographs of the people responsible for finding dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs! Magazine #1 – 45 1992-
From 1992 to 1994 I collected these magazines published by Orbis that not only expanded my knowledge of all things prehistoric but also provided me with the vital parts need to construct my glow in the dark T-Rex skeleton (and plastic outer skin)! I delighted in each issue packed with information broken up into various sections like the 3D-gallery centre spread that could be viewed through my T-Rex 3D glasses (free with issue 1). The beautifully illustrated ‘history in pictures’ strips illustrated by Pat Williams that brought the stories of palaeontologist such as Gideon Mantell and Mary Anning to life. I held Dr. David Norman of Cambridge University who handled the ‘Ask the Expert’ back page as the absolute authority on dinosaurs. When I finally visited the Natural History Museum in London in my 20’s I lost count of how many times I pointed out that I had only ever, “seen it photographed in Dinosaurs! Magazine”. A fantastic publication, filled with facts, figures and beautiful illustrations complete with glow in the dark skeletons, collectors cards, posters and 3D glasses- this is how you teach your subject to children.

Update: I seem to have subconsciously ‘pinched’ this idea from TwoHeadedBoy follow this link to his post about the Ladybird Dinosaur book from 1988 (Incidentally I had that book too). 
© Arfon Jones 2015. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Monday 24 August 2015

‘Frwyth y Môr/ Fruits de Mer/ Fruits of the Sea Poster

As busy as ever here in the studio, last week I finished working on this for Menter Môn, an EU rural development programme that facilitates rural economic regeneration projects on Anglesey, North Wales. Along with the European Fisheries Fund and the Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGS) (set up to provide support for the sustainable development of fisheries areas) we developed this fun, bilingual (English/ Welsh) child friendly educational poster designed to highlight some of the diverse sea life inhabiting the surrounding North Wales Gwynedd/ Anglesey coastline for local schools.
The ‘Frwyth y Môr’ ‘Fruits de Mer’ or ‘Fruits of the Sea’ poster features 31 different species found at the varying depth that they inhabit in the North Wales sea. The original was created using acrylic paint and pen and measured (roughly) 17.50 x 25inches the labels were added afterwards by Mr Tom Pollock of Excellent Creative Design.

The poster completed it was unveiled as a 7 foot (at a guess) tall display at this year’s Menai Seafood Festival an annual event that celebrates North Wales' coastal heritage. Coinciding with Anglesey Marine Week 2015 that promotes the rich wildlife and heritage of Anglesey’s coastal waters the event showcases the best seafood and fish available around the shores of Anglesey with a local produce market and exhibitors, cooking demonstrations, art and craft and live music. I went along to see it for myself and see how the poster was received.
Some of the marine creatures made it onto the festival bunting 
More bunting...
The fish display with humans for scale
About the artist...
Children draw their favorite fish using the poster as reference  
My sincere thanks to Jane Davies and Robert Jones of Menter Môn.
© Arfon Jones 2015. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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