Sunday, 3 January 2010
RIP John Berry
I have only just heard that John Berry died just before Christmas, aged 89.
When Ladybird was reaching its peak in the 1960s and 70s John Berry was one of the favoured artists. His style is photographic and was the perfect choice to illustrate, and indeed document, the working world of 1960s Britain in the People at Work series, for which he is best known (in Ladybird Land). However, he illustrated books from numerous other series - including a couple of original Peter and Jane books and, one of my favourites, the Hannibal the Hamster series of the early 1970s - a rather underrated series imho.
Colleages of Berry's said: "If you could photograph it, Berry could paint it" - but to paint successful portraits requires more than exceptional mechanical skill; outside Ladybird Land, I heard once that Berry painted a portrait of George Bush (senior) which was on display in the White House. He certainly painted Dina Pricess of Wales on one occasion.
I never met John Berry, although I have acquired a couple of pieces of his artwork. a relative of mine lives in the next village and gave me his phone number which she took out of the phone book, but I was too shy to make contact.
You will find an obituary from The Telgraph here.