Places & Spaces My Library

My Library – A Bowl of Olives by Sara Midda

February 9, 2015

Today is the first my library post in 2015 and I couldn’t be more excited to show and review illustrator Sara Midda’s latest book A Bowl of Olives – on Food and Memory.

Regular readers will know that I have blogged about Sara Midda before as I’m a huge fan of her work. Lucky for me, we have been in touch for a while now. Actually I had earmarked Sara for a Mapology Guides map but she was in midst finishing off this book. Maybe some other time.

I thought it might be nice to ask Sara a few questions for people to get to know her a little.

A bowl of Olives is very much in the same format and vein as the legendary Southern France – a sketchbook. It’s a mix of memoirs, journal and sketchbook with Sara’s very gorgeous, distinctive and legible hand lettering. Each page is full of illustrations, sometimes using photographs but all with delectable watercolour drawings.

my library - A bowl of olives by sara midda

With a subject close to my heart I didn’t know whether to first read Sara’s thoughts and musings on random food topics or delight over the illustrations. Like with the sketchbook from Southern France, this will have pride of place in my library amongst my Sara Midda collection and I will refer to it often.

OK, over to Sara.

How did you first get to be an illustrator? Well apart from 5 minutes when I was about 8 wanting to be a hairdresser (my Brother quickly put me off that idea) and a longer period thinking I could be a vet,  I had always wanted to do something (did not know what) in this field and consider myself lucky to be able to do so.

Did you always illustrate in watercolours and why? I think I did except for pen or brush and ink, the other medium I sometimes work with.

You have a very distinctive style and beautiful handwriting. Did that come natural to you? Thank you. I was always interested in using hand lettering, and lettering as part of the image. And how different images need a different type of lettering .

In and Out of the Garden and South of France: A sketchbook are Bestsellers. They are as current today as they were when first published. What do you think is the secret to your success? No idea! Growing up and Other Vices is perhaps from my books a favourite , and it was not a success. Whatever success means?

You’ve recently illustrated A Bowl of Olives – on food and memory. Why did you choose this topic? It was a subject I was interested in. My sketchbooks were full of observations of food related subjects. I have many food books, ceramics, olive oil tins and artefacts related to cooking, that all inspired me.

my library - A bowl of olives by sara midda

my library - A bowl of olives by sara midda

What do you think of today’s illustration styles. Who inspires you? Any favourites? I am not really well informed about contemporary  illustrators .The work of Steinberg, André Francois, Edward Gorey, Ardizzone, Samuel Palmer, Blake, Van Gogh, Paul Klee, Maira Kalman, old packaging, wood block prints, typography, plants, fabrics, flower pots, landscape, baskets, vegetable gardens and on …………

If you could choose another medium to illustrate with, what would you choose? Pen or brush and ink, or etching, or potato prints.

Are you planning to illustrate more books? I hope so! if no publisher wants any of my ideas, I have much to carry on with, and right now I am trying to sort things out a bit.

If not books, what else would you like to work on? I worked with a Japanese store for 20 years, on a range of own label products, from baby clothes to china, soap et cetera. It was thoroughly spoiling. I worked on designs in London and travelled there each year. Often they would come here too. Different disciplines to work within. After working alone it was so different and lively to be with a group of people.

my library - A bowl of olives by sara midda

my library - A bowl of olives by sara midda

my library - A bowl of olives by sara midda

my library - A bowl of olives by sara midda

Thank you Sara for sharing this with us.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It makes for a perfect gift and if you love food, illustrations and charming musings and thoughts about food, you need to get a copy for yourself. Enough said!!

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  • Reply Giova Brusa February 9, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Oh, no!! This is going straight to my wish list for sure.
    My type of book, as soon as I saw the first pic I said to myself “crappity crap”
    Loved the interview as well, great to read!

    • Reply tina February 16, 2015 at 1:58 am

      Yes, definitely your type of book. Look forward to seeing you soon. x

  • Reply Louise - 30s Magazine February 9, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    This looks like a beautiful book, and I wish I hadn’t restricted myself for buying any more books. I just don’t have the space anymore 🙁 But I will try to find it in a bookstore so I can least have a look at it up close. Thanks for sharing

    • Reply tina February 16, 2015 at 1:59 am

      Ha. I know the feeling of lack of space:-)

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey February 11, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Wonderful. I can relate to the search for the perfect mug. It’s one thing I love… I typically use different mugs every day and am currently in love my my various Moomin mugs 🙂

    It is admirable to see a book designed and illustrated around various musings, journeys and experiences.

    Thanks for the latest offering Tina xx

    • Reply tina February 16, 2015 at 2:07 am

      I’mm glad that the perfect mug page resonated…you use a different mug every day, that’s so lovely.
      Your Moomin mugs are great and I love the one Igor gifted you. He doesn’t need my be Preent Perfect map:-))

      I think that’s why Sara’s work stands out. It isn’t just the beautiful illustrations and hand lettering. It’s the musings and story telling she’s an expert in. I love all her books.

      Pleasure Gerard xx

  • Reply Anya Jensen February 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    I lurve her sketches and the search for that perfect mug – I have found mine, now I need to not break it … Another great artist of yours Tina – thanks for sharing xx

    • Reply tina February 16, 2015 at 2:09 am

      Would love to see your favourite mug:-)

      Glad you enjoyed it. Thinking of you all in Copenhagen. Awful shootings xx

  • Reply Holly February 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    This really is beautiful. Love Sara’s illustrations and handwriting, soft but not delicate. Have bookmarked it. Thanks for sharing and warm welcome back to your “my library” posts.


    • Reply tina February 16, 2015 at 2:10 am

      Hello you. So nice to have you back here.
      Sara’s work is delightful and yes, happy that ‘my library’ is back.

  • Reply Wendy McM August 31, 2015 at 6:47 am

    So excited to see this new book by Sara Midda!!! I’m so thrilled she’s still publishing her work…
    You may not remember me from my comment 3 years ago about your last post on Sara. Her work inspired me to start a watercolor journal and renewed my love for the medium. Now my twin girls, now 10, also love to journal. It has sparked a love of art for them and a shared interest for this mom to enjoy with her girls. Thank you Sara!!
    Couldn’t have given me better news… I’ve got to scoot to order the book right now!
    Thank you for keeping us updated,
    Warmest wishes, Wendy

    • Reply tina August 31, 2015 at 11:58 am

      I do remember you…

      How wonderful that you popped back and found this new book. It’s utterly charming and I’m sure you’ll love it:-)
      Always a pleasure. Be well…

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