Lately I have been re-reading John Mortimer’s volume of memoirs, Murderers and Other Friends in between reading a couple of library books which I needed to tackle before they were due back. Still on the library pile is Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis which I have fortunately been able to renew while I finish Lindsey Davis’ Roman crime novel Saturnalia.
I have long been a fan of Davis’ private eye, Marcus Didius Falco who gets embroiled in the seamy underbelly of Roman society with the able assistance of his formidable patrician wife Helena Justina. As I think I have mentioned, I have been having a crime binge lately (apart from reading Mortimer’s memoirs) thanks to my local library.
I hope to discuss the topic of crime novels in a future post, but for the moment I shall return to Mortimer and his well-known creation Horace Rumpole of the Bailey. While doing a Google search on John Mortimer (1923-2009) I came across this short video of an exhibition of caricaturist Tony Healey’s original watercolour Rumpole paintings. If you have not read any Rumpole stories or watched the television versions starring Leo McKern (1920-2002), then these glimpses of the irascible old barrister might inspire you to explore further. The exhibition also includes several lively portraits of John Mortimer.
The exhibition and the video were the work of a London gallery called Illustrationcupboard which specialises in featuring the work of contemporary book illustrators. This definitely sounds like a place to see when I next visit London. Check out the gallery’s website for some fabulous artists such as Jane Hissey, Edward Ardizzone, Brian Wildsmith and Lauren Child.
On a separate note, I have recently set up a new chapter on the Landing entitled Booksellers Beyond which is aimed at showcasing the talents of various former booksellers who have gone on to explore other creative avenues. My first guest artist is an old friend with whom I used to work in Birmingham, Valleri Jillard who has forged a new career as a mixed media artist. Take a peek at some examples of her work over in Booksellers Beyond by following the links. I hope to add more to this section soon so keep checking back.
But now, back to Mortimer and Rumpole…
Video credit: Illustrationcupboard, uploaded to YouTube 12 March 2012 (exhibition 20 February – 10 March) – with thanks.