A renowned Brighton illustrator protested against cutbacks in the arts in schools as he collected a top V&A award.
Professor John Vernon Lord, University of Brighton Professor Emeritus and former tutor at the University, won the V&A’s 2018 Book Illustration award and the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year award for his illustration for Ulysses (Folio Society).
In his acceptance speech, Professor Lord said: “If I had my way the visual arts and crafts, music and drama should be the cornerstones of our schools’ curriculum. These core values are undervalued in our schools and underfunded by politicians and some head teachers. They are too often dismissed as not being a priority.
“Creativity, culture and the arts are being systematically reduced from the education system, with dramatic falls in the number of pupils taking GCSEs in art, design, drama, music and other creative subjects.
“I wonder if the educationists are only happy when there is a clear and finite way of assessing results, such as Maths; whereas judging the creative arts can be an enigma to some. We must all give a voice of protest, whenever possible, at the demise of creative subjects in our schools.”
Professor Lord, author and teacher, has illustrated texts including Aesop’s Fables, The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear, the Folio Society’s Myths and Legends of the British Isles, and Epics of the Middle Ages.
He studied at Salford School of Art and at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, and began his career as a commercial artist, then worked as a book illustrator from 1967 onwards. His best-known works include children’s book The Giant Jam Sandwich (1972) and his award-winning edition of The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear (1984). His Aesop’s Fables won the V&A WH Smith Prize for illustration (1990).
For more than 50 years Professor Lord has lectured on the art of illustration in the UK and internationally. He was chair of the Graphic Design Board of the Council for Academic Awards and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Brighton, having been Professor of Illustration. He was head of various departments during his time at Brighton, having taught there from 1961-1999. He has been giving lectures regularly at Brighton for the past 57 years.
Professor Lord thanked the V&A, the judges and The Folio Society and admitted he was “nearly knocked off” his feet on hearing of his award.
He said: “It is wonderful that the enlightened V&A Museum offers awards for illustrators and students – and has done so for such a long time, since 1972. We illustrators are all very grateful for that and thank you to those generous Trusts that support these awards. For this is one of the very few national awards devoted to the subject of illustration.”