Drawn to Nor­folk

We meet Chris Rid­dell, car­toon­ist and former Chil­dren’s Lau­re­ate

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

DRAW­INGS POUR, scut­tle, me­an­der and swarm from a stu­dio deep in ru­ral Nor­folk. There are night­mar­ish crea­tures, all weird pro­tu­ber­ances and drip­ping limbs, limp­ing along­side jaunty princesses with cas­cades of curls. Classes of chil­dren clus­ter around sto­ry­books; a cav­al­cade of fa­mil­iar faces is made freak­ish by the slice-through-the-fa­cade power of the po­lit­i­cal car­toon. Ogres jos­tle with au­thors, an­i­mals, trees trans­form­ing into fairy­tale char­ac­ters and trees just be­ing trees. And over and over again in this daily pro­ces­sion of draw­ings comes the chatty, en­thu­si­as­tic, friendly, slightly rounded, lightly-bearded por­trait of the artist.

For the past two years Chris Rid­dell has been Bri­tain’s Chil­dren’s Lau­re­ate and for ev­ery one of those days he drew pic­tures; a re­mark­able record of the peo­ple he met, the places he trav­elled, the talks he gave, the il­lus­tra­tions he cre­ated.

Chris first ar­rived in Nor­folk around 35 years ago, an art stu­dent pre­par­ing to meet the par­ents of his girl­friend, Jo. She be­came his wife and their house, cre­ated from two former farm cot­tages, at the edge of Rock­land St Peter, near At­tle­bor­ough, is on land her fam­ily once farmed.

Jo, an artist her­self, gen­er­ally ap­pears in Chris’s work as ‘Princess Joanna of Nor­folk,’ and Chris draws him­self in poses rang­ing from ‘pon­tif­i­cat­ing’ to strid­ing joy­fully to­wards the wild woods and big skies of Nor­folk.

Above: Ot­to­line by Chris Rid­dell

Left: Chris pre­pares to re­turn to his beloved Nor­folk Op­po­site: Chris’s wife Jo grew up in Nor­folk and her par­ents still live in At­tle­bor­ough

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