Artist Charlie Mackesy is a cartoonist for the Spectator and a book illustrator for Oxford University Press. He has collaborated with Richard Curtis on Love, Actually for Comic Relief and Nelson Mandela on lithograph project ‘The Unity Series’. Mackesy’s uplifting illustrations have featured in books, private collections and public spaces, including Highgate Cemetery in London, and can be found in prisons, churches and universities across the UK, and in women’s safe houses around the world.
His first exhibition for The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse was held in London in November 2018. Since then, this series of illustrations has continued to capture the imagination. The conversations between the ‘boy’, ‘mole’, ‘fox’ and ‘horse’ have been shared online thousands of times, recreated in school art classes and turned into tattoos. Now they’re all together in one book, into which readers can dip in and out whenever and wherever they like. “Scribble on it, crease the corners and leave it well-thumbed,” Mackesy announces in his introduction.
The book is an anthology of sorts, collecting both his most-loved illustrations and some new ones. Readers follow the journey of Mackesy’s four unlikely friends as they learn some important life lessons. The boy is lonely until he meets a cake-loving mole (“they spend time together gazing into the wild”), a fox (“mainly silent and wary because he’s been hurt by life”) and a horse (“the biggest thing they have ever encountered, and also the gentlest”). What follows is a series of beautifully illustrated pen-and-ink vignettes featuring mantras and rules to live by, which are in turn amusing, touching, honest, kind and big-hearted. It’s an inspirational read.
This book hasn’t just been a hit with readers who have fallen for Mackesy’s art over the years. Richard Curtis has described his drawings as “a wonderful window into the human heart”. Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert has said: “The world that I am required to inhabit is this one. But the world that I long to inhabit is the one that Charlie Mackesy has created.” Explorer Bear Grylls claims: “Love, friendship and kindness – this book speaks a universal language.” Comedian Miranda Hart has declared: “Simply, the world needs Charlie’s work right now.” We couldn’t agree more.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse is available to buy now.
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