What's going up my leg?

Anthony discussing his childhood drawing.
Extract from 'Playing the Shape Game'

'...Most of my pictures were of great battles: soldiers, cowboys or knights in armour, caught in moments of ferocious conflict. At first they just looked like scenes of terrible carnage, but a closer look revealed jokes, speech bubbles and snippets of descriptive writing. I loved to use words and pictures together, and long before I considered a career in children’s books (as a four-year-old, I saw my future taking place in the boxing ring rather than the studio), I was creating pictures that were more interesting than they first appeared. 

I haven’t kept any of the battle scenes, but this picture of a pair of legs (presumably mine) is fairly typical Browne, then and now. Unlike my actual legs, these have pirates hiding in their shoes and climbing up the 'masts'. I have learnt over the years that children are natural surrealists. To a child, a pair of legs has limitless possibilities; the socks and shoes are merely the least interesting starting point. I suspect that Freud would have plenty to say about the image, but I believe I had a very secure and balanced childhood! 

The drawing is an advanced example of the Shape Game. I have taken an ordinary picture and, with a few extraordinary additions, transformed it into a story. It has changed from something purely representational into something strange, dream-like, interesting. Of course, one could say that all drawings are examples of the Shape Game. The artist looks at a face or a tree and transforms it into their interpretation of what they see. When an image is reproduced on paper it is unavoidably manipulated, personalised, 'changed into' a drawing...'

childhood drawing.jpg