Victoria and Albert Museum

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Sparrow and Sam

Sparrow and Sam

I came up with the idea for Sparrow and Sam - a picture/storybook - after acquiring a beautiful 1920s red accordion. I wondered who had owned it, and what its story was. I also love the music of Edith Piaf (who was known as Little Sparrow), am fascinated by her life, and early 20th century Paris. These were starting points for what gradually became the story of Sparrow and Sam.

The cover shows the main characters, the little girl Sparrow, and the old accordionist, Sam. The endpapers show Sparrow's 9 brothers and sisters. Sparrow is so much smaller than them that they don't notice her singing. One day she stops singing.... until she hears Sam's accordion. The double-page spread (third image) shows a reflective moment towards the end of the book, after the two characters have had a magical, musical day together... Sparrow has an idea: a concert, which brings together the talents of Sparrow, Sam and all the brothers and sisters too!

After experimenting with printmaking - lithography - on this MA course, I realised the importance of drawing and texture as the best way of expressing myself, especially since this project has a lot of emotion and movement. The drawings are graphite with layers of colour underneath in pastel and/or pencil crayon. I wanted to confine myself to a limited colour palette so that I could concentrate on the drawing (although colour plays a greater role during the middle of the book).