Michael Munday’s wonderful theatrical cover, featuring Guy Fawkes centre stage, was inspired by Pollock’s Toy Theatres, he tells me – the kind you can see in the Pollock’s Toy Museum of Victorian toys (or on their website). Indeed. We love it.
Michael seems to have a mind that darts back and forth, visiting and revisiting ideas. The works-in-progress he shows me in his studio (in the Star Brewery, where he’s been based for 30 years) are more than six feet high, and are life drawings that depict figures twisting and dancing. He works over and over them until he’s satisfied, he tells me. Or he may find one part of the piece catches his eye until he makes that the painting or drawing’s focus. His drawings in Artwave this August were very popular with visitors – it was the movement in them that people loved.
(I smile at his lengths of blank, waiting paper hanging in the studio: weighed down to lose their curl with chunky metal paper clips, a length of stick, an arbitrary hammer – my kind of practical.)
Our cover he made by drawing by hand first: as he always does. “I couldn’t not draw on paper”, he says, showing me one of the Moleskine-style watercolour sketchbooks he favours, and his “scratchy” calligraphic pen. The line work he then imported into Photoshop to fill in the colour. “I like the bright, Victorian colours”, he smiles. “My wife Gill sometimes makes me elaborate cut-out birthday cards”, he says – and this too is a seed for our cover. “I thought about actually making it in cardboard,” he says, “but then I drew and Photoshopped it instead (lazy). But I like the fake 3D, and the shadows…”
We do too.
He had planned, for a time, Boris Johnson in place of Guy, his doublet smouldering… he shows me his roughs, and we touch briefly on the state of the country, the world, the climate. (He remembers 1962, and being a boy in a classroom at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and “expecting any moment to see a flash in the sky…”) Details capture him, of course, and he has fun with them: “I liked the idea of Guy Fawkes looking bored…”
He’s infectiously cheerful company. Also, a musician (“guitar/vocals”) in three bands – Ska Toons, Joko and, most recently – “we’ve got our first gig in November!” – Hope Street. What a lovely name. This new incarnation is a three-piece band – “It’s me, my son Max on bass, and Lisa, a great sax player from Ska Toons”.
And he discovered he loves contemporary dance.
A devoted member for the last eight years of the Brighton contemporary dance company, Three Score Dance, he’s excited about their first mini-tour coming up. (As an aside, I try to encourage him to blog from it, having loved his ‘Seasoned illustrator nervously circumnavigates globe’ blog; “I get anxious even going to Lyme Regis”, he tells me…) “I’ve finally found something really expressive. We have visiting choreographers who come and make performances with us – recently, Ben Duke, who’s just fantastic. And it feeds into my drawing.” This makes sense, too, of the six-foot pictures: they are, we agree, like dance drawings.
Which brings us, too, full circle.
michaelmunday2.com – occasional but recent blog; michaelmunday.wordpress.com – travel blog; michaelmunday.com; threescoredance.co.uk; skatoons.co.uk