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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thaliad and the artist's path--

Thaliad (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing, 2012) involved a good deal of work by Welsh painter Clive Hicks-Jenkins. I've been meaning to collect a sort of index to all his labors on the book. With the links below, you can follow his making of the art for the book from his first day, cutting out leaves from painted papers for the collage. I am leaving out the work he did on the bookplate, which we gave to the first people to purchase copies, and some ephemeral pieces.

An initial sketch, some birds, some leaves... Clive is pleased about the project:
 It is a work of staggering beauty and imagination, and I’m enormously proud to have been asked by the author and her publisher, Elizabeth Adams, to create the image that will speak for it on the cover. As with The Foliate Head, I’m also responsible for the page decorations inside. I’ve roughly laid out the cover design and today have been painting collage papers and snipping out leaves and tendrils from them. The foliate is present in the design for this cover as it was in my last for Marly, but this time presented in a quite different way. I shan’t reveal much today other than a handful of leaves, a sketch of a detail and a couple of trial birds.
Lots and lots of preparatory sketches!

The little yellow bird appears. The collage for the jacket of hardcover and cover of paperback is already taking shape.

Clive shows two sources for the cover--one in fabric, one in paint.

Lettering for the title.

Clive shows the finished cover art and has a long excerpt from me; I talk about needlework and family, and end with this quote: "Or we might well call her The Quilted Girl. This Thalia is an interesting solution to the difficulty of making a cover/jacket image for a long blank verse poem that travels widely in time and space, portrays some ferocious events, and clings to the shape of the epic while moving toward the character and scenic development of the novel. Clive settles on the child and matriarch-to-be, Thalia, and he gives us an image that is startling, almost shocking (that eye!) That she is foliate reflects the intense natural world of the poem. That she is “quilted” suggests the return to knowing how to do things by hand that occurs in the narrative. That Thalia is flowering and fruiting is also an essential property of the protagonist…"

An abundance of page decorations for the interior.

Clive contemplates the mode of interior decorations in a note to the publisher.

All the Thaliad interior art to date (June 25th, 2012.)

The first matching of text with images by Elizabeth Adams, who is an expert designer.

Clive admires the preparatory work of publisher Elizabeth Adams.

A new collage... a farm on a winter's night.

The artist tinkers with the collage of the farm to improve it. That one's illuminating to see his method and perfectionism.

Horse collage! Clive is a great lover of horses, and not long ago made art for Equus for Old Stile Press.

Clive reveals how he makes the collages for Thaliad, using a Noah's ark vignette. This post is the best one for a revelation of "how to."

Clive shows the last vignette--to see more, one has to look at the book.

Sifting through the images on Clive's work table... Thaliad and more.

Clive reflects on his 17 vignettes and cover for Thaliad, as well as other work we've done together.

Head of Thalia, interior. A letter from Beth Adams to Clive.

Thaliad in paperback.

This post is especially good on the evolution of the jacket/cover, and has lots of correspondence between artist and publisher.

Tomcat on Clive's art!

Clive pilfers remarks from novelist-illustrator James A. Owen on my facebook page: "It's a high water-mark of what's possible . . . It's old school book-crafter perfect. With that book you leapt from being one of my favorite writers to a game-changer. The literary sphere will have to catch up to what I and others have already seen--but there is no doubt it is a remarkable achievement."

There it is, a long and beautiful progress from dream to book. If you want to see the Phoenicia Publishing page (how plosive!), go here. If you want to see some more review clips, go here.


  1. Wonderful to have Clive's development of the images all together like this, even as a review for those of us who followed the first time around. I am still in awe over his patient way of working.The end results must still be thrilling for you both!

  2. He is patient, but he is also fast! So fun to see the results come tumbling out of his hands...

  3. Oh my.Just back from a trip to Brecon to deliver the set model for The Mare's Tale, to find this fantastic curatorial compilation! Marly, you are wonder. How extraordinary to be able to relive the progress in this way. Thank you.

    C xxx

  4. Meant to do it ages ago... Life gets in the way, doesn't it? xoxo

  5. His artwork is amazing!


  6. Hi Susanna--

    Yes, he is all richness and vibrant color and energy!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.