I fell in love with the power of words at a young age. One of my strongest early childhood memories is of standing on a chair in our family kitchen, learning words that were written on blue scraps of card that I brought home from school in an old tobacco tin. RED. CAT. BLUE. HAT. The first small steps of a life-long journey. BIG. HOUSE. LITTLE. MOUSE. I remember the creases on the paper pieces, the teacher’s rounded writing and even the flat rattle noise they made when finally put back in the safety of the odour-tinged tin and shaken. Even then I sensed that written words had a power, a half-hidden value, and I sought to hoover up as many as I could, as quickly as I might. I was pretty much the quintessential bookworm kid. Always reading..
It might seem strange then that I pursued a career dependent on picture-making. I trained as an architect and learnt how pictures and images also have the power to inform, enlighten, shock and entertain. Sometimes though I would seek safety in words and, when faced with a design problem, would try to write my way out it; finding equal creativity in the construction of a sentence as in a detail on a technical drawing. Years later, when I started to get less time at the drawing board at work, I started these pages as an alternate creative outlet.
Words though have taken a back seat for quite a while recently. An opportunity came along that felt right and I got involved in image-making again. Massif Central illustrates achievements, and so for the past 18 months that has meant all my spare hours have been spent drawing instead of writing. We’ve illustrated hundreds of runs, rides, swims and hikes over that time and each has had a story behind it that I would have loved to tell. Sometimes it’s pained me as the opportunities to put some of those endeavours into words as well have slipped away due to the pressures of time. There have been some really good ones..
The man who enjoyed five days of downhill on his TransAmerica.. The guys who took the wrong turning on their final, short day of London to Paris and ended up riding 200km instead of 90.. The lady who rode Lands End to John O’Groats in memory of her late husband.. You just know there are great stories in there waiting to come out..
The illustrations do feature words. It’s partially what attracted me to Massif’s work in the first place. Small text which is not legible at first but which becomes clearer as you get close up and personal with each print. Road names, place names, speeds and distances. Heart rates, inclines and fragmentary memories of rides ridden and trails hiked. Piecemeal clues that give the graphic a meaning and which start to reveal the story of the extent and effort behind it. But we want to go further. There are more words to tell. Words that don’t belong on the pictures but alongside them – to tell the stories of the reasons behind the achievements to those who weren’t there; to those who don’t know the riders, hikers, swimmers and runners.
And so we begin the next new chapter. We will draw the pictures and write the words, and place both here – in our own little online tobacco tin. We hope that you’ll give them a rattle from time to time..
TJP | MaCe
Get in touch: BONJOUR@THEMASSIFCENTRAL.CO.UK