‘Dreams, myths, fairy tales, metamorphoses, the unruly unconscious, epic journeys, and a highly sensual celebration of sexuality in both its most joyous and darkest manifestations’ … Ian McEwan’s marvellous description of Angela Carter’s prose gives a fair idea why her masterpiece of fairy tale reinterpretation, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, was chosen as our ‘set book’ in the 2nd annual Folio Society / House of Illustration Book Illustration Competition. What a starting point for any artist! You may have viewed our online gallery of the shortlisted illustrators – and last night (July 3) the overall winner was finally announced at the awards evening at the Collyer Bristow Gallery in Central London.
After introductory remarks by House of Illustration Trustee Quentin Blake, our own Production Director Joe Whitlock Blundell spoke, and revealed that entries to this year’s competition had topped 500. As last year’s winner Matthew Richardson has just been presented the prize for Book Cover Illustration at the V&A Illustration Awards for his work on The Outsider, the competition is already proving an effective springboard. Joe went on to praise all the shortlisted artists, and their pieces were then presented. The task of revealing the winner, however, was left to the Chair of the judging panel, author and expert on fairy and folk tale traditions, and introducer to our edition of The Bloody Chamber, Marina Warner.
Igor Karash comes to Angela Carter’s fairy tales rather unexpectedly. Originally from Azerbaijan and now residing in St Louis, Missouri, he studied architecture and urban design, and his career path has led him into the field of retail architecture and graphics – not at first an obvious fit with Angela Carter’s sensual and baroque tales of wonder and terror.
Igor, however, has always kept one foot in a more fanciful world, continuing to work on illustration projects in children’s publishing and in theatre set design. As Marina Warner said, it was Igor’s ability to create ‘an overall mood of mystery and pleasure’ in a series of illustrations that ‘conceal more than you can take in at first glance’. Perhaps most telling was that Igor restrained from using an obviously sensual red palette, applying a green tinge to each piece that ‘helps to lure us into this otherworld of mystery’.
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories will be available to order from mid-August, but in the meantime, you can view Igor’s work, and that of the other shortlisted artists here. We are also preparing two new videos on the website– an interview with Marina Warner and with Igor Karash – we’ll let you know when they are available to view.