Following on from the glowing success of The Odyssey, published by Walker Books in 2012, the electric collaboration of Cross and Packer returns with this fresh version of The Iliad.
Gillian Cross has presented an honest retelling of the story, and is true to the original; opening it up to new and younger audiences. Over 2500 years on, and the book is still as gripping today as it was for the Greeks and Romans who shared the tale round campfires in the Mediterranean. Packer's illustrations have quite literally brought new colour to the tale:
|Why so sad Achilles?|
|Zeus took out his golden scales|
This is not the first time that Packer has approached the Classics; having illustrated I, Claudius and Claudius the God for the Folio Society. It is clear that Packer is au fait with ancient greek interpretations of the tale, obviously influenced by the traditional red and black-figure vase painting on Athenian pottery.
|Attic black-figure amphora, Ajax and Achilles playing dice, attributed to Exekias c.540-530BC|
|Like two wild boars|
The use of very fine outline to give a 3D appearance to they key figures is a nod to the etching techniques used on the Greek vase depictions of the same characters.
|But that's another story|
Craftsmanship is apparent in Packer's work, and it comes as no surprise that he has also borrowed pattern and colour themes from traditional embroidery of the Epirus region and Byzantine silks:
|Bolster cover, mid 18th century, Greece, Epirus © www.metmuseum.org|
|Detail of Hector's body was lain on a fine bed|
The limited colour palette used in some of his illustrations sets the character action apart from the background, and the use of whites, blues and greys parallels 'household friendly' 18th century interpretation of Greek mythology as represented on Spode's Blue Room Collection:
|Diomedes grabbed at the reins|
|Spode Blue Room Plate - Greek|
Packer is very aware of being influenced by the world around him and describes himself as a 'stylistic magpie' as he talks to the Illustration Cupboard about his work.
We for one can't wait to see what takes his inspiration next! But until then, we look forward to welcoming you to the gallery to view The Iliad, on until the 24 October.