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Raymond Briggs
Raymond Briggs "Radio 4 is the Staff of Life for the illustrator."

All representational painting requires a great deal of donkey work. Once the composition is planned and drawn out, there are many hours, even days, of fairly mechanical labour. Stanley Spencer called this "knitting". You can spend an entire day painting the bricks in a wall, or the tiles on a roof. Or, as in a recent book of mine, The Pubddleman, rubbing out 82 pairs of trainers on a little boy and painting in 82 pairs of Wellingtons.


Later, I also changed 82 pairs of jeans into 82 pairs of shorts. Even more boring!

So this is where good old Radio 4 comes in. It stops you from dozing off and prevents atrophy of the brain.

That is why I had Radio 4 receivers as my Desert Island Discs luxury. One in each leg of a billiard table. Cheating of course, but Radio 4 makes you ruthless.

Four cheers for Radio 4!
ListenListen to Raymond Briggs (1 minute)
Raymond Briggs (born January 18, 1934) is a British illustrator, cartoonist, and author who has achieved critical and popular success among adults and children.

He was born in Wimbledon, London, in the home of his parents Ethel and Ernest Briggs, a maid and a milkman. Raymond Briggs pursued cartooning from an early age and, despite his mother's attempts to discourage him from this unprofitable pursuit, he attended the Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art. After briefly pursuing painting, he became a professional illustrator and soon began working in children's books.

His first three major works, Father Christmas, Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (both featuring a curmudgeonly Santa Claus who complains incessantly about the "blooming snow"), and Fungus the Bogeyman, were in the form of comics rather than the typical children's-book format of separate text and illustrations. The Snowman (1978) was almost entirely wordless, and became Briggs' best-known work when it was made into an Oscar-nominated animated cartoon that has been shown every year since on British television.

Briggs continued to work in a similar format, but with more adult content, in Gentleman Jim, a somber look at the working-class trials of Jim and Hilda Bloggs, closely based on his parents. When the Wind Blows (1982) confronted the trusting, optimistic Bloggs couple with the horror of nuclear war, and was praised in the House of Commons for its timeliness and originality. This was turned into a two-handed radio play with Peter Sallis in the male lead role. The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (1984) was a scathing denunciation of the Falklands War. However, Briggs continued to produce humour for children, in works such as the Unlucky Wally series and The Bear.

His graphic novel Ethel and Ernest, which portrayed his parents' 41-year marriage, won Best Illustrated Book in the 1998 British Book Awards.
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The Artist and Radio 4:
Bankside Gallery
3-27 November 2005
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