Review: In The Wilds

In The Wilds / Nigel Peake, 2011

Published by Princeton Architectural Press, this gorgeous hardback is Nigel Peake’s latest collection of drawings, as he lovingly studies the intricacies of his native Irish countryside.

See more spreads and read what I have to say about it below.

Peake is one of my favourite illustrators working right now. I just love his attention to quirky details, obsessive line drawings, and choice of colour. I’ve collected various bits of his work over the past few years, such as his book on Maps, and zines like Trails and Shapes, but this new publication really takes it to the next level. Beautifully printed and bound, it’s a weighty hardback of 130 pages on lovely uncoated stock. The size pleasantly surprised me too, feeling more like a sketchbook or diary than a hefty coffee table tome.

The works inside don’t disappoint. Taking inspiration from his Irish home – “in the middle of nowhere” as he describes it – Peake lovlingly paints a picture of the surrounding serenity, such as the abstract patterns of fields, collapsed fences, farmyard buildings and bird trails in the sky. It’s so satisfying to see an illustrator given the freedom to produce a collection of drawings like this on such a large scale. There’s no real narrative here, just a glimpse of the world through Peake’s eyes. And what a beautiful glimpse it is, a wash with muted watercolours and charming ink drawings.

Peake trained as an architect at the University of Edinburgh, and I think that’s the quality of his work that attracts me the most; a real sense of structure and geometry that underpins all the whimsical lines and colours. His charming buildings, for example, show a real understanding of weight and engineering and I think that’s what makes them work so well.

The book is available from Amazon, Magma and everywhere else you’d expect. Highly recommended.

There’s also a show of the work currently on at Needles & Pens in San Francisco.

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