If you’ve visited Tate Modern recently you may have noticed a few new characters loitering around the edge of our shop on level 2.
The handiwork of author and illustrator Badaude (aka Joanna Walsh) these subtle figures celebrate exploring London on foot.
One of the great things about working on illustrated books is getting to meet the artists themselves and if we’re lucky, seeing them at work. For her new book, London Walks! we were able to follow Joanna’s drawings as they travelled from sketchbook stage through to final artwork. So we thought, what better way to celebrate the book’s release than to create an opportunity for others to see Joanna in action.
Last weekend we invited Joanna to create a mural on the glass walls of our Tate Modern bookshop. Being a Saturday, I was feeling pious for arriving at the gallery before the doors had even opened, only to find Joanna tailoring the legs of her third full-height figure against the quiet of an empty turbine hall.
The ambition with which Joanna approached the mural can also be seen in her intensely detailed illustrations for London Walks! Her series of hand-drawn maps are incredibly intricate, jam-packed with quirky observations and unusual facts that capture London’s atmosphere, architecture and inhabitants.
Watching Joanna draw was completely mesmerizing. Anyone who has tried drawing from life will appreciate the skill it takes to get figures in proportion and to scale, let alone capturing something of the sitter’s character. This didn’t seem to phase Joanna. As friends popped by to say hi, she incorporated them into the drawing, catching up over a quick sketch.
As in the book, Joanna’s mural conglomerates unconnected characters into a single stream of coherent wanderers. Boris Johnson can be seen ambling past the art history books, not far behind fashion blogger Fleurette who coolly glances towards a selection of branded t-shirts and umbrellas.
Even British artist Peter Blake can be seen overlooking the Miró merchandise, transported straight from his 1961 Self-Portrait with Badges.
Central to Joanna’s work is the idea that a city is more than its physical geography. Its many charms are ready and waiting for those who take the time to slow down, stop and look. Try it and let us know what you discover.
Badaude’s mural will be on the walls of the River Shop on level 2 at Tate Modern for the rest of the summer. Buy London Walks! by Badaude in our online shop