More than just another Brick in the wall

In the above video artist and writer John Stuart Clark (aka Brick) discusses the process of creating his chapter for Dawn of the Unread. Below he explains why Slavomir Rawicz’s story is important to him.

The book I chose to write and draw about I discovered in my boarding school library a couple of weeks after being grounded for attempting to escape. I was nine years old and sick of being bullied because my parents were neither posh nor wealthy, like almost every other oik’s in the school. That book was The Long Walk and chronicles Slavomir Rawicz’s escape from a Soviet gulag camp in Siberia during WWII. It rang a lot of bells!

My approach was to tell the very personal story of how influential the book was on my efforts to escape the corrupt and brutalizing world in which I found, and have continued to find, myself living in. Whether in my choice of a precarious profession or my continual need to lose myself in the wilds, Slavomir Radwicz’s story filled me with the belief that anybody can overcome the insurmountable and triumph against overwhelming odds NOT to conform and become one of the herd.

My style is what it is, honed over many decades working as a political cartoonist, a job in which I am required to point out that the Emperor’s new clothes are an illusion, but with a touch of humour to soften the blow for the delusional. Since I have also written prose books and articles about my adventure travel experiences, it seemed only fitting to create a parody outdoor magazine, Mountain, Forest, Desert Monthly, that would feature snippets of interest to young readers that spring from the main comic as embeds. After all, libraries don’t just make public books and CDs and DVDs and maps – they also have racks of magazines and newspapers.

Brick shows how he found inspiration for drawing particular scenes

Brick shows how he found inspiration for drawing particular scenes

The library used in my chapter…

While there are excellent new and refurbished local repositories (particularly West Bridgford and Worksop Libraries), I preferred to flog over to Wales to photograph the stunningly beautiful Llandudno Library. Financed by Conwy Borough Council and the Welsh Assembly’s Libraries for Life scheme, the make-over was done in consultation with Opening the Book, a design service whose modus operandi is very much about fitting the library to the needs of the reader-explorer rather than the staff or local authority’s obligations.

First visited in the course of presenting a workshop and talk, Llandudno’s is a library that blows the stereotypical fusty old image of dark corners, dark shelving and dark regiments of catalogued spines out of the water. No doubt a bugger to keep clean, the neutrality of the white and the wonderful innovation of tilted shelving (which can also be seen at Worksop) entice the explorer into the rows and layers of alluring spines much as the glass jars of coloured candy used to in sweet shops (yep, I’m that old). And gone is the rigid Dewey Decimal Classification system, replaced by a reader-centred stacking system that demands more user interaction of the staff and makes the whole experience of visiting the library more like an adventure.

RELATED READING

During April visit Central Library, Nottingham for Our Story: Polish Heritage in the East Midlands an exhibition celebrating the lives of migrants settling in Nottingham and the East Midlands after the Second World War

 

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