top of page
Art Gallery




John Lawrence is not hard to write about – I could eulogise at length on his talent, skill, creativity and technical virtuosity; as we all know, he is one of the greatest wood engravers of the modern era. A lifetime of impressive accolades hold testament, such as his tenure as Master of the Art Workers’ Guild, as well as his copious publications, of which many are household-favourites, such as the first illustrated Watership Down, as well as Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. However, as he approaches this venerable and impressive birthday I would prefer to share my own recollection of the John I know – the man who has always been there, supporting and contributing to the greater good in his quiet, altruistic, kind-hearted and generous way.

John Lawrence is a name I grew up with; it was as if he has always been there for as long as I can remember. His books were on my bedroom shelves, and through a family connection in publishing, I had heard his name mentioned in connection with Hamish Hamilton and Julia MacRae Books and I was always excited to see what publication might appear next. When I set up Illustrationcupboard Gallery in 1995, it was suggested that I go and meet him. I was cordially invited up to his family home in Cambridge, where for the first time I met him and Myra one gloriously sunny summer afternoon. Sitting in their beautiful perfumed English garden of colour and vibrancy was a golden moment; drinking tea and discussing the world of books and artwork. I had the delight of seeing his studio for the first time, that wonderful world of its own on the first floor, overlooking the rolling fields of Cambridgeshire; peaceful, serene, elegant and hugely inspiring with its shelves of books, papers, printing press, editions and all manner of things I knew not – it was really not far off a scene from Rowling’s Hogwarts. I loved it.  From that day John and Myra were life-long friends. 

Lawrence_Wayland_Wayland stood firm on the shore_300dpi_edited.jpg

Over these many years we have worked together on all sorts of projects, single-artist exhibitions, book-signings for eager visitors, and launches of new titles, such as the superb Treasure Island,  the gritty Wayland as well as Lyra's Oxford and Once Upon A Time In The North; each and every occasion packed with attendees, full of humour and happiness reflecting John’s enduring kindness and warmth. He has always been a staunch and loyal supporter of my endeavours and remains so now, even at this venerable age. Continuing to show his work on our Exhibition Cabinet pages is a testament to our enduring friendship - I count myself as blessed to have known him these past almost 30 years. So happy birthday for 15th September John! We raise a glass in your honour, and in Hogwarts-fashion look forward to the next 90 years, which will only get better and better!

bottom of page