{ Welcome to } ~ Balfourland

Sadly, more violence in the Middle East with no resolution in sight.
An illustration I did for the New York Times Book Review on a novel titled "A Palestine Affair" written by Jonathan Wilson which was set in Palestine during the 1920s.  

Initially Palestine was the 'war booty' granted the British after World War One.  It had a rooted Arab population at its core which was quickly being encroached by Zionist settlers with aspirations for more. The Balfour Declaration was a typically ambiguous compromise that promised a Jewish homeland on the proviso the rights of the existing population were respected.

You've probably heard the phrase 'one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter' and that has certainly been the case with Palestine.  Present-day Israeli civilians who suffer at the hands of terrorist attacks had forefathers who adopted these same tactics in their push for more settlers and land during the 1920s and onward.  It was against this historical backdrop that Jonathan Wilson set his novel with composite characters experiencing the difficult birth of a nation that would lead such a troubled existence.  The book was reviewed by Richard Eder for the New York Times Book Review.

My task was to capture the plot of the existing book as well as the reviewer's review.  Eder provided the necessary historical background within his review before critically analyzing the author's mastery of storytelling.  Eder used the metaphor of knots, Gordion and other, in his estimation of the author's successful resolution.  That seemed a good place to start for an idea.

I also remembered thinking of that child's game that one plays where string is used to fashion a form which is passed on to another and is re-purposed.   In the Inuit culture this act is a form of storytelling, called 'String Stories',so I had my idea: the troubled region has changed hands numerous times and left all participants, fictitious and non-fictitious, entangled.

The artwork was done using Ink sticks and stone; sponge brushes and calligraphic brushes with pen and ink and pencil.  Below, the printed page.

Working for the New York Times and Art Director Steven Heller was one of the greatest highlights in my career.  The deadlines were very quick turnaround - story arrived via email late Monday; concepts Tuesday morning; final artwork on his desk Wednesday morning.  Pitching to Heller was daunting as well.  Heller had art directed some of my heroes in illustration - Glaser, Steadman, Holland, Sorel, Searle, to name but a few, so he was accustomed to a certain standard. It was a thrill to collaborate with him.  


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