Sunday, 23 January 2011

Fireweed 2

Last September I wrote about an exhibition with the title Fireweed, a joint show by artists Liz Davis, Clare Gerrard, and Susanna Jacobs, at the Exhibit gallery, Golden Lane Estate, London. Last week I had the pleasure of reading an excellent children’s novel of the same title, Fireweed by Jill Paton Walsh, from 1969.

It’s an extremely good book, a vivid depiction of London in the Blitz, and an emotionally strong, well told story of two young runaways from different social backgrounds who meet in the shelters and try to find a way to survive together.

The book closes with a description of fireweed growing on the Barbican bomb site, as seen in the frame grabs in my earlier post. Some of the film footage that those images were taken from was included in a 1960 British Pathé film, My Lord Mayor (from 07:30 on), along with shots of the construction of Golden Lane Estate, new office development on London Wall, and an early model of the Barbican Estate. More fireweed can be seen growing in reel two of the film, not on a bomb site but at Burnham Beeches.

The jacket illustration above is by Gareth Floyd, from what I think is the first edition of Fireweed, published by Macmillan. A larger scan with flaps here.

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