In a time when I could count the years of my life on my hands my brother and I received a book called The Last Ship Home by Rodney Matthews. It was a fantasy art book containing paintings that he had done from literature and from his own imagination. It was a simple book; square in shape and significantly larger than an A4 page. It had a most spectacular cover of a ship floating through the sky towards a cliff-side village and then a corresponding one on the back cover of the same ship drifting away from the village resulting in the decay of the landscape.
My brother and I spent many hours as children exploring each of the pictures, inspecting every detail with curiosity by tracing outlines with small fingers. I recall at one stage we would take it out every night to look at the pictures, flicking through each page and excitedly pointing to a character exclaiming “He’s my favourite!” (But of course he would always get the best guy)
I remember my brother reading me the titles of each of the works before I even knew how to read, titles such as “An Unlikely Hero”, “Rivendell – The Last Homely House”, “The Martians” and “Alice and the Caterpillar” – depictions of scenes from The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The War of the Worlds and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – all books that I would then read in the years to come.
For me Last Ship Home planted the seed of curiosity that would germinate and flourish into a part-time hobby and full-time interest in books and art. Even now, a decade later, do I open the book to look at a specific picture and find myself once again pouring over each page with new found wonder and inspiration.