THE READING LIST ǀ Books that inspire
No messing about, we’ll get straight into it. Here’s my top go-to books when I’m starting a new piece.
- ‘Spotters Handbook- British Flowers Trees and Birds.’First Published in 1978 by Usborne Publishing Ltd, London.
I love this book, I think my Dad found it in a skip, seriously. Or maybe a car boot? Or an elderly lady he was doing some painting work for gave it to him. I’m not sure, either way I’m glad he got it, because it’s my most favourite book by far. These hand drawn illustrations are really accurate, and have just enough nuisances that you can actually see the difference from one tree to the next. Not too much text, just a clear description and a few annotations marking details. Perfect.
Each section has a different scorecard where you can track your finds. Naturally I haven’t filled this in, but seven year old Jade in her infinite wisdom saw it best to scrawl all over the inside cover. Sacrilege.
- ‘A pocket Book of British Wild Flowers’ by Charles. A. Hall, A& C. Black Ltd, originally printed in 1937, reprinted in 1942 and 1944
Tucked up on Shutta Road in Looe Cornwall is best little bookshop called The Old Hall Bookshop, I say little, it’s actually quite large and full to the brim! We spent a good hour and a half there and if it wasn’t for the parking running out, we would have been there another two!
This book has 48 colour plates that are a great source of inspiration for compositions in anatomical studies.
The Old Hall Bookshop is closed at the moment, so check out their facebook page here.
- ‘ British Garden Flowers’ by George M. Taylor. Printed by Collins in 1946
Also picked up in The Old Hall Bookshop was this little number. I was so pleased when I found this book, look at that hand written message on the inside cover! I was even more excited when I found the exact same book a few shelves down with the exact same note in the cover- only for his 95th birthday! I was so temped to buy both to keep them as a pair, but I thought someone else should get the pleasure of it. (This was in October 2019, you may want to try your luck! )
It has the loveliest illustrations and served as the direct inspiration for one of my own prints.
- ‘Wild Flowers of the Wayside and Woodland’ Frederick Warne & Co. LTD originally printed in 1936, this version in1952.
This book contains 762 species, each annotated and illustrated in teeny detail. Illustrations begin with basic tiny drawings organised by colour group, followed by some grouped illustration on coloured plates. Each specimen’s origin, region, history, uses are thoroughly documented.
I believe I picked this up in a charity shop in Liskeard, but I’m not sure, but again if you see it, get it! You will not be disappointed.
- ‘Flower Colour Guide’ Darroch & Michael Putman, published by Phaidon Press Ltd 2018
I came across Putman & Putman on Instagram and immediately pre ordered the book, eagerly awaiting its release. They make the most incredible floral displays that combine colour and texture in a completely contemporary way. The also have a class on Skillshare which was so easy to follow and made me look at flower arranging in a whole new way. Not so much with actual flowers (I have a ways to go on that front) but in my collage compositions.
This book and a compact beautifully photographed colour index of blooms. Each page contains a perfectly captured flower, its name, use and season along with a tear out thumbnail of the plant for planning your own displays. Amazing.
And finally, we were recently up in Redmile near Nottigham, at the The Windmill Inn. Not only was the food amazing (seriously, the pan roast chicken with braised barley, phwoar) but they had a sweet fire side reading nook in the bar. There was 10 or so back issues of the publication ‘Evergreen’ a magazine I have never seen before. I frequent a lot of car boots and charity shops but I had never seen this publication! What had I been missing?!
This dinky little magazine covers various tales, histories and traditional from across the UK, as well as seasonal events, fairs and picturesque spots. The map on the inside cover makes it easy to pinpoint the locations of each article, which for me is Wales, Wales, WALES!
Don’t worry, I left them all by the fireside ready for the next reader, but my partner hunted down some old back catalogues for my birthday. What a gem.
So there you go, there’s my go-to book guide. Happy hunting!
THINGS I HAVE MENTIONED
- The Old Hall Bookshop is here.
- Putman & Putman flowers, click, click here. You have too!
- The Winmill Inn, Redmile. So, so good.
- 'Evergreen ' magazine. "A Miscellany of This & That & Things gone by."