• Garage

    Matt’s Grandad’s Garage, near Preston

Bookshelf: Matthew the Horse takes us on a tour of his shelves

Posted by Liv Siddall,

What an honour it is to have friendly illustration whizz Matt The Horse do a Bookshelf for us. He was so keen to perform the task that he did a tour of Leeds to all the best bookshops to find his favourite tomes as his are all locked away. I’ll let him explain: “I’ve don’t have many books in my life right now. They’re in my Grandad’s garage near Preston. I just moved into my friends basement so had to audit my belongings. Some precious books came with me, but most are in garage limbo until I get some more space. As a result, I’ve pieced together my selection by visiting the bookshops and shelves of Leeds. I miss my books. Thanks Leeds.”

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    C.F: Power Mastrs

C.F: Power Mastrs

I’ve been into C.F since I was infected by his comic fungus in Kramers Ergot 5 & 6. I notice he has a wiki page but I’m not going to read it. This stuff needs to come from, and continue to exist, somewhere else, somewhere only C.F exists. Familiar but cosmic, these stories are from another place. They make my blood hot. Look at the artwork, the colours, the ruler lines, the book design, the scanned paper, the pacing, the maps, the octopus sex. It is a master class in unconventional. All his work is. Where is issue 4?

Thanks to OK Comics for the picture. There’s a great comics community in Leeds, supported by several good comic book shops and Thought Bubble of course, which gets bigger each year. OK is well stocked, they know their comics and work really hard at keeping people reading.


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    Freddy Dewe Mathews: Bouvetoya: A cultural history of an isolated landmass

Freddy Dewe Mathews: Bouvetoya: A cultural history of an isolated landmass

This is the most recent book I’ve bought and it’s wonderful. It’s everything a book should be. The graphic design is robust and charming, like a good map book. In fact reading it is a lot like map reading. It feels reassuring to study its collected passages, diagrams and photos. It is an adventure in itself. I am finding little moments within my days to spend time with its philosophies and history. I would recommend it to anyone interested in psycho-geography, or – if that seems too grand – if you like going outside when you’re sad. It’s also waterproof.

Thanks to the super swag Village books for the recommendation and photo. They are doing a great job championing artists books, mags and photography in our city. They hold monthly shows that support the local scene and have good beards. Joe & Ben love books and their passion comes through in how they curate the titles on their shelves.


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    Rambharos Jh: Waterlife

Rambharos Jh: Waterlife

Published by Tara books, Waterlife is absolutely stunning. It is impossible not to turn its pages, not to smell its ink or to be spell bound by the artwork on its pages. Tara books are handmade in every aspect, the result is an artefact glowing with authenticity and charm. It resonates with the same magic as all great picture books. It makes you look a little closer.

Thanks to the always outstanding Colours May Vary for putting me onto these books, along with many others. Everything in this book shop is chosen with an informed eye and passion for books, journals, design and graphic art. It is a design book shop worthy of any city in the world, it always makes me happy that its in Leeds. If you’re going to visit, be prepared to leave with some new books.

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    Creative Illustration: Andrew Loomis, 1947

Creative Illustration: Andrew Loomis, 1947

I’m lucky enough to work in an art school. An art school with a great library. These facsimiles of Loomis’ original guides to illustration are fantastic. He writes with such authority and passion, reminding you that illustration is a highly skilled profession. One that has methodology, principles and mastery. Its a bit of an antidote to those content thin compendiums of slick contemporary illustration. There’s loads of amazing information in here, I’ve found the chapter on composition really useful, though some of the grids he starts to introduce are mind bending.

Even if you don’t think this content is relevant to your practice, it is humbling to admire such levels of understanding. This book woke me up to the fact that showing off alone won’t cut it and that the applied art of illustration requires some investment of craft, theory and methodology. However you make pictures, I think its important that you recognise thats there is probably a better way to make them, if you just read a book.

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    Elizabeth David: An Omelette and a glass of wine

Elizabeth David: An Omelette and a glass of wine

This is a very elegant book. The eggs are painted by Cedric Morris. What a beautiful image. I’ve looked at it so many times and it still makes me happy. Elizabeth David talks about food in a way that goes beyond food. I think her writing is wholly applicable to design. Keep it simple. Demand the most from your ingredients. Learn to be a connoisseur through experience. And don’t separate process from consumption. Savour the small things, the ritual and people.

Photo taken in Kirkgate Market Leeds.


Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She also runs our London listings site This At There, and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.