The bold, distinctive style of Paula Rego's paintings has acquired for her not only an ever-increasing critical reputation but also an unusually large and enthusiastic following. Her be-ribboned, little-girl heroines and fairy-tale characters seem firmly rooted in childhood, yet the innocence of this art is darkened by the underlying themes of power, domination and rebellion, sexuality and gender, that run through her work. Here Rego has turned to the nursery rhyme as a new source for her imagery. It is a genre that perfectly complements her art; full of double meanings, rhymes are written from a child's perspective but are open to adult interpretation. Around 20 well-known nursery rhymes are accompanied by a series of etchings which she has executed spontaneously as a child might, drawing directly on to the plate without preparatory planning. Following the traditions of earlier artists such as Beatrix Potter, she treats the fantastic realistically, dressing animals in human costume and using dream-like dislocations of scale.
These are wonderfully comic and rich illustrations with a hint of the sinister, that turn classic nursery rhymes into colourful stories about folly and delusion, cruelty, convention and sex. Marina Warner is an acclaimed novelist, critic and art historian, and broadcasts regularly on radio and television. She is the author of "Richard Wentworth" (1993), also published by Thames and Hudson.
Marina Warner is a writer of fiction, criticism and history; her works include novels and short stories as well as studies of myths, symbols, and fairytales. She is currently Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College and President of the Royal Society of Literature.