Quentin Blake talks of France….

1-P1030304up at Kings place. Most of us may know him as a English  illustrator of childrens books, but tonight we learn he has many strings to his bow. Not least a love of all things French. 1-P1030318-001

The event took me back to the 70s and 80s when I came across events in France which had a mixture of art, song and poetry linked together with similar passion and humour. The French are masters of this kind of thing.

Quentin Blake  has clearly been influenced by all things french  He showed us examples of early cartoons and comic strips which had appeared in early French magazines and newspapers. He loved the work of Caron d’Ache and gave a mini bio of the man including early examples of his  work and his economy of line. There were others too and all had influenced the development of Quentin Blakes own work. Small wonder he too has a French publisher.

Dylan Reed read several poems in both French and English and some of them had been put to music and were sung beautifully by Anna Sideris, and who was accompanied on the piano by Dylan Perez.

At one point Quentin Blake was spontaneously sketching on his i-pad, the drawings then being automatically  transferred to the  big screen behind him.

We  then listened to a brief interview with Lucie Campos of the Institute Francais that gave us even more intriguing insights into this remarkable man and his many stays and forays into France.

1-P1030304Later he told  us that  the poem ‘Sleeper in the Valley’ by Rimbaud, which he, with others, illustrated, was known by heart by every french child.


C’est un trou de verdure où chante une rivière,
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D’argent ; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit : c’est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort ; il est étendu dans l’herbe, sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme :
Nature, berce-le chaudement : il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine ;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.

In Translation  (from http://emilyspoetryblog.com/)

It is a green hollow where a river sings, 
Its silver tatters clinging madly to the grass;
Where the sun, of the proud mountain,
Shines: it is a little valley frothing with sunbeams. 

A young soldier, mouth open, head bare, 
And his neck bathing in the cool blue cuckooflower,
Is sleeping; he is stretched out upon the grass, under the sky, 
Pale in his green bed where the light rains upon him.

His feet among the flags, he is sleeping. Smiling as
A sick child would smile, he is dozing:
Nature, hold him close and rock him: he is cold. 

Scents do not make his nostrils quiver.
He is sleeping in the sun, his hand on his calm
Chest. In his right side, he has two red holes.

A poignant ending to the readings.  Now I will read some more of Rimbaud and be checking out some of Quentin’s books for the French market.

And here is one illustration to remind us all of his wonderful work.There are loads more online and his official website is  www.quentinblake.com/



This entry was posted in Cheer yourself up, London out and about, Photography, Poetry readings - London - Brighton and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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