Visual Storytelling

This summer, while organizing and hanging my retrospective exhibit at the Falmouth Art Center (Aug. 1- 31), I’ve thought about children’s picture books and reflected on the wonderful opportunity they present to visual artists. The story book structure provides a unique opening to the imagination, with both writers and artists doing their part to interpret and articulate the human experience into something tangible and accessible.

It’s a great responsibility to connect with children through picture books and create their first introduction to art. I want to show the reader something they can care about and attach to. Adults call attention to my labor-intensive and inventive approach to illustrating; children respond directly to the emotional gestalt of a story with pictures. I try to keep that in mind while I stitch and stitch, translating the images in my head into something real.

On Tuesday, August 15th at 7:00 pm, I will participate in the presentation ~ Meet Our Local Picture Book Creators at the Cataumet Schoolhouse , Cataumet, MA. The writer/illustrator team of Jim & Deb Bowen will also talk about their work.

For those of you from far away, I’ve taken some short video tours of my exhibit, Salley Mavor: 25 Years of Picture Books. More videos are at the end of this post. Reflections on the glass make it a challenge to photograph the framed artwork, but I think the videos help give a sense of the show.


VISUAL STORYTELLING

Lately, I’ve been describing myself as a visual storyteller because the term “illustrator” just doesn’t seem to fit anymore and adequately encompass what I do. All of my work is narrative, but not necessarily illustration. And as for terms to describe how I make things — I don’t even try to define it anymore. I make picture books, how-to books and stand alone fabric relief pieces like Displaced. There are also fairy houses, wee folk dolls and sculpture. This past year, political satire and stop-motion animation from the Wee Folk Players – They’re a Stitch were added to the mix. By the way, if you’re missing the Players, they are busy filming on location in the basement. My husband Rob and I are making progress with the animation and have made about 2 minutes into a 10 minute movie.

NEW BOOK
After taking 3 years to complete Pocketful of Posies (2010), I needed a break from the all consuming process of making a book, so I could be free to develop other ideas that have been tugging at me for a long time. I’m glad I spent the last few years experimenting with new subjects, but I’m happy to say that the picture book bug has returned. It’s too early to say much about the new project, but I can tell you that it’s about beds, has an international theme and will be published by HoughtonMifflin in 2020. I’m not sure how much if anything I can show, because this is the first time I’ve worked on a book while also keeping up a blog about my artwork. I figure it’s OK to show details of the process, but not the whole pieces. So, if you want a more frequent inside glimpse, please follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

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Here are a group of detail shots I took of some fabric relief originals in the show, while cleaning the frames and glass.

 

 

 

a backwards glance

Last year, it occurred to me that it’s been 25 years since my first children’s book, The Way Home was published. Reaching the quarter century mark seemed like a good excuse to gather a representational selection of original illustrations from my 10 books and display them together. So, I’ve been cleaning glass and spiffing up a number of framed pieces to show. Some of the illustrations are on loan from private collectors, some are ones I’ve kept and others will be for sale.

The exhibit, Salley Mavor: 25 Years of Picture Books, will be on display August 1 – 31, 2017 at the Falmouth Art Center, in their upstairs gallery. The opening reception is Friday, August 4th from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the first copies of The Way Home arrived in the mail. I remember bringing the book in to read to my son Ian’s kindergarten class. He claimed a spot on my lap, not sure if he liked the idea of sharing me with the other children. No sooner had I held up the book and started reading the opening lines, than he reached up and covered my mouth with his tiny hand. Usually quiet and undemanding, he sure knew how to get his point across! Fast forward to now — Ian is a talented artist in his own right, who will be working toward a Master’s degree in painting this fall. Here we are in 1991, setting up for the book party at the Woods Hole Library.

setting up for the book party, 1991

The retrospective exhibit at the Falmouth Art Center will include original fabric relief illustrations from the following list of titles. For reference, a copy of each book will be available to look at in the gallery. If you make a trip to Falmouth (on Cape Cod) to see the show, make sure to visit our wonderful book store, Eight Cousins, which has autographed copies of Pocketful of Posies and In the Heart. And while you’re in town, don’t miss the Storybook Fairy Houses Exhibit at Highfield Hall and the Fairy Family Raffle.

POCKETFUL OF POSIES: A TREASURY OF NURSERY RHYMES published by HoughtonMifflin, 2010, ISBN 978-0-618-73740-6, Order autographed copy from my Etsy shop. A complimentary copy of In the Heart is included with purchase.

WEE WILLIE WINKIE Board book published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006, ISBN 0-618-49640-8, Out of print.

HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE! Board book published by Houghton Mifflin 2005, ISBN 0-618-49638-6, Out of print.

MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB, Board book published by Houghton Mifflin 2005, ISBN 0-618-49637-8. Out of print.

JACK AND JILL, Out of print, Board book published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006, ISBN 0-618-49639-4. Out of print.

IN THE HEART written by Ann Turner, artwork by Salley Mavor, published by HarperCollins in 2001, ISBN 0-06-023730-9, Hardcover edition, out of print, Order autographed copies from Etsy Shop 

THE HOLLYHOCK WALL, Out of Print, written by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Salley Mavor, Hardcover edition published by Candlewick Press in 1999, ISBN 1-56402-902-6, Paperback edition published by Walker Books in 2000, ISBN 0-7445-7732-2.

YOU AND ME: POEMS OF FRIENDSHIP, Out of print, published by Orchard Books in 1997, ISBN 0-531-30045-5 Hardcover edition

MARY HAD  A LITTLE LAMB, Out of print, published by Orchard Books in 1995, ISBN 0-531-06875-7 Hardcover edition, ISBN 0-531-07165-0 Paperback edition.

COME TO MY PARTY, Out of Print, Published by MacMillan in 1993, ISBN 0-02-776147-9 Hardcover edition

THE WAY HOME, Out of print, published by MacMillan in 1991, ISBN 0-370-31 645-2 Hardcover edition, ISBN 0-689-71790-3 Aladdin Paperback edition, Read the 5-part story about making The Way Home here.

Polly heads west

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Polly will be traveling again! We’re heading west to visit my sister in Portland, Oregon and my cousins in Utah. During a visit a few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting several blog followers at a talk/book signing in Portland, so I thought it would be nice to arrange another event while we’re in town. This time, I will talk briefly about my work and sign books on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm at A Children’s Place.

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Polly needed a new outfit for the trip, of course. She decided on a colorful cotton batik skirt and turquoise top to compliment her favorite red vest. She’s always had a weakness for western attire, so I made a custom cowgirl hat.

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Polly is excited to be traveling west, across the whole continent and looks forward to sharing her adventures on Instagram and Facebook.

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The Way Home is 25!

25 years ago this spring, Judy Richardson and I released our first book, The Way Home. Just last week, I saw Judy and we marveled at how young we were in a 1991 publicity photo with an elephant (see below)! Having this book published was quite an exercise in perseverance  and I thank Judy for not only writing such a great story, but her unwavering belief that we were a team!

The Way Home 1991

The Way Home 1991

In 2010, while recuperating from a broken my wrist, I put my energy into reflecting on the past and sorting through photos. As you can imagine, not being able to manipulate a needle and thread for 4 months was torturous. This predicament forced me to dive into my blog, where I could type stories and use the computer mouse with one hand. I decided to tell the 8 year saga of this first adventure in publishing, from inception to completion, which turned into an in-depth series of posts about The Way Home. Those of you who’ve been following my blog from the start will be familiar with the series, but I think newer subscribers will enjoy the story too! Links are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

 

 

opportunities to see original artwork

I am excited to share the news that there will be opportunities to see my original fabric-relief artwork in different parts of the country this fall and winter. The Pocketful of Posies exhibit, will be at the Upcountry Museum – Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, Oct. 17, 2015 – Feb. 14, 2016. Next month I will head down to Greenville to give a talk about my work on Thurs., Nov. 19th at 7:00 pm. This is the last scheduled exhibit on the 5 year tour and I hope that many of you can make the trip to see the show!

And, 2 of my larger pieces will be included in Insects to Elephants: Mother Nature’s Menagerie at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.  Birds of Beebe Woods and Rabbitat will be displayed from Oct 21. 2015 – January 10, 2016.

Poster 22x28 2SM

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Also, my piece, FaceTime is part of the group show, Entangled at Some Things Looming in Reading Pennsylvania until Oct. 24th.

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Posies goes south

Book - Pocketful of Posies 2010

Book – Pocketful of Posies 2010

I am pleased to announce that the Pocketful of Posies Exhibit is traveling to the southern United States! About half of the original embroidered illustrations from my book (28 pieces) will be displayed in Maryland and South Carolina for the next 6 months.

The show has traveled to over 20 locations since the book was published 5 years ago. I am happy that so many people around the country have had the chance to see the detail and sculptural quality of the originals. No matter how excellent the photos are, there’s nothing like seeing the real thing! I’m sorry that many of you who live far from past and future venues will miss this opportunity.

At this point, I’ve moved on to new projects and will no longer be personally searching for new exhibit locations. There will inevitably be suggestions to “please bring the show to my city”, but I am not in a position to make that happen with the wave of a wand. Unfortunately, I have found sending out proposals to seemingly appropriate venues ineffective for the most part. All that said, inquiries from museums, art centers and libraries who would like to host an exhibit are always welcome! That’s how many of the shows have come about, including the next 2. So, the exhibit may or may not continue to tour beyond this winter, depending on the interest from suitable venues. Also, the collection is slowly dwindling as pieces sell, so the touring exhibit will eventually come to an end.

For now, I’m excited to have my work shown in the mid-Atlantic area and as far south as western South Carolina. Perhaps we will meet when I give a talk in Greenville, SC on Nov.19th! See the schedule with links below:

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August 22 – Sept. 25, 2015 at the Harford County Public Library, Bel Air Branch, 100 E. Pennsylvania Ave, Bel Air, Maryland.

Oct. 17, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016 at the Upcountry Museum – Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. Artist talk with Salley Mavor ~ Thursday, Nov. 19th at 7:00 pm.

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Jerry hall 2010

Jerry hall 2010

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Posies goes to Lexington, MA

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I am pleased to announce that, after a few month’s pause, the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit has resumed and will be shown in several venues this year. Just yesterday, Rob and I drove to Lexington, MA, to deliver and hang 33 original embroidered illustrations from the book. Luckily, it wasn’t snowing that day, but there were tall walls of snow lining every street and sidewalk around town!

My artwork is on display at the Lexington Public (Cary Memorial) Library, Lexington, Massachusetts from now until March 30th. The exhibit is in the meeting room gallery, so I recommend contacting the library ahead to find out when the room is not being used for an event. It would be disconcerting to make the trip and find out that there’s a meeting going on in the room. I’ll be giving an Artist Talk and book signing on Wed., March 4th @ 7:00 pm. A collection of wee folk dolls from my new book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures will make a special appearance!

This exhibit came about because someone came into the library last year looking for my work. When she found out that the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit  was actually in Lexington, Kentucky, she suggested that the library get in touch with me to see if it could come here, too. Well, I’m happy that they did and we arranged to have a show this month.

The next stop on the tour is April 2 – 29 at the Newton Free Library, Newton, Massachusetts, with an Artist Talk on April 21 @ 7:00 pm.

Then the artwork will go south to these locations:

August 17 – Sept. 25, 2015 at the Harford County Public Library, Bel Air Branch, 100 E. Pennsylvania Ave, Bel Air, Maryland.

Oct. 17, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016 at the Upcountry Museum – Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. Artist talk to be announced.

Will there be any more shows after this? Perhaps.The artwork has been touring for 5 years, and at this stage, I’m involved with other projects and am too busy to search out for more locations and send out proposals. But, I’m always willing to discuss the idea with interested venues who contact me.