Monday, April 28, 2008

Clifford & Wendy Meadway

Clifford and Wendy Meadway were regulars at Look and Learn for many years, drawing all manner of subjects. I was lucky enough to correspond with Wendy in 2006 when I was researching the history of Look and Learn and learn a little about their partnership. First, a little bibliography...

Clifford Henry Meadway was born on 6 October 1921 and became well known as a painter of railway engines. Titles he illustrated include Railways at the Turn of the Century, 1895-1905 (1969), Railways at the Zenith of Steam, 1920-40 (1970), Railways in the Years of Pre-eminence, 1905-1919 (1971), The Dawn of World Railways, 1800-1850 (1972), Railways in the Formative Years, 1851-1895 (1973), Railways in the Transition from Steam, 1940-1965 (1974), Railways in the Modern Age Since 1963 (1975), Great Steam Locomotives of All Time (1976) and Great Western in Colour (1978), all written by O. S. Nock; later titles include Guide to Airliners by Andrew Kershaw (1979), Guide to Racing Cars by Nigel Roebuck (1979), Model Railways by Cyril Freezer (1980), Guide to Fighting Ships by Andrew Kershaw (1980), Let's Look at Tractors by Graham Rickard (1988) and Woodland Trees by Theresa Greenaway (1990). Cliff died in 1999.

Wendy, his wife, often collaborated on their books but was also a fine nature artist in her own right and illustrated dozens of children's books on animals and other subjects, including Garden Birds by Jean Cooke (1982), Discovering Flowering Plants by Jennifer Coldrey (1986), Discovering Rats and Mice by Jill Bailey (1986), Discovering Flies by Christopher O'Toole (1986), Discovering Beetles by Malcolm Penny (1986), Discovering Crickets and Grasshoppers by Keith Porter (1986), Discovering Ants by Christopher O'Toole (1986), Discovering Rabbits and Hares by Keith Porter (1986), Discovering Frogs and Toads by Mike Linley (1986), In the Town by Ralph Whitlock (1986), In the Park by Ralph Whitlock (1986), In the Soil by Ralph Whitlock (1986), Animal Movement by Malcolm Penny (1987), Animals and their Young by Malcolm Penny (1987), Discovering Seabirds by Anthony Wharton (1987), Discovering Crabs and Lobsters by Jill Bailey (1987), Discovering Trees by Jill Bailey (1988), Discovering Bugs by George McGavin (1988), Let's Look at Horses by Kenneth Quicke (1988), Endangered Animals by Malcolm Penny (1988), Animal Partnerships by Malcolm Penny (1988), Stream by Deni Bown & Michael Atkinson (1989), Animal Movement by Tony Seddon (1989), Wild Animals by Anyon Ellis (1989), Wood by Deni Bown (1989), Park by Deni Bown (1989), Garden by Deni Bown (1989) and Pond by Deni Bown (1989).

I'll now hand you over to Wendy...

My husband, Cliff, and I always felt it was such a shame that they stopped publishing Look and Learn, which covered so many diverse subjects. Cliff and I were many years with Look and Learn, nearly always illustrating articles that showed how things worked. We covered a great variety of subjects, including the early Walkman, tower cranes, milk parlours, egg grading and packing, loading train containers, testing runways, steam roundabouts in fairgrounds, laying macadam on roadways, etc., etc. This often entailed travelling around in our search for reference for our paintings. I know Cliff went to train depots for the container article and our local farms were helpful for the milk and egg articles. To this day I sometimes see a large piece of machinery and think, "I know how that works!"

I suppose that these days young people find everything on the internet, so much easier when I think of the challenges of finding references that Cliff and I had. I am a true computer illiterate: haven't got one, haven't even touched one! Can find better things to do with my time and money. But that's just my opinion!

As to my past career, well, I did a five year art course at Harrow Art College, got various diplomas, then went to a small studio in London, where we did a great variety of things, among them working for the War Office, diagrams for technical books and many, many birthday and Christmas cards. This is where I met Cliff, who had spent 15 years in the R.A.F. as an engineer, so he was always given all the complicated mechanical jobs to do. he had never been to Art School, so, did I waste five years training? I don't think so!

It was whilst in the studio that we were introduced to Blandford Press and the railway books took off, something like 13 all told. Eventually the Studio folded and some of us became freelance and some gave up art work.

Because deadlines were so tight, Cliff and I often 'shared' a job. This was particularly so with the Blandford books. I did some of the paintings and Cliff did some, and even we couldn't tell them apart. We worked in colour and black & white—when you are freelance you never say you can't do something. In between books we did the usual thing of trudging round publishers with our folio. We never had an agent.

I guess my happiest time was painting for the natural history books, as wildlife has always been my great passion, but I also love steam locomotives, so much enjoyed the railway books. Cliff, as I may have mentioned, became Judges of Hastings chief Christmas card artist, and painted about 2,000 for them!

There was no family background in art, but my mother was a hairdresser and loved to do little drawings of flowers. My father did some tailoring, and was quite inventive and would make simple clothes for me when I was a child. I am, by the way, an only child.

When we were 'between jobs' Cliff and I would do paintings for local galleries. Cliff was a very fine landscape artist and had some success with selling his paintings, usually local scenes, in watercolour. I would do animal and flower studies, also watercolour, which is the medium that we always used. In later years, photographs were used more and more in flower, mammal and bird identification books and I lost much work, so turned my hand to commissioned animal portraits—great fun!

They say that artists never retire, but, some 18 months ago, I decided to call a halt to my artwork. I belong to so many natural history societies that I no longer seem to find time to paint. Cliff died just on 7 years ago, and over the last three years certain things have happened which have made me feel that I must get as much enjoyment out of life as I can, so that's what I am doing—going out a lot and really enjoying myself!

(* My thanks to Wendy Meadway for her charming and informative correspondence, from which I've cobbled the above together. The first two illustrations are from original artwork for Look and Learn © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.; the third illustration is, I believe, from one of the Blandford railway books and presumably © Blandford Press. I don't think any of the Meadway's books are still in print, but many are available second-hand.)

UPDATE: I'm informed that Wendy passed away on Friday, 27 October 2017. Considering herself a commercial artist, she never painted in her later years once she had retired from drawing. Her closest surviving family live in Canada, but I'm told that a group of friend are coming together to give Wendy a "great, happy send off."

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Like you I am hoping to use some Cliff and Wendy Meadway railway drawings in a new book I am writing.
    Can you tell me where Wendy Meadway can be contacted, I wish get her copyright permission to publish. Blandford Press has stopped trading? Many thanks.
    Mike Mumford.



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