Dave McKean @ EIBF, 19 Aug

Article by Erin McElhinney | 22 Aug 2008
  • Work by Dave McKean

If the Book Festival ever became fatiguing due to its surplus of talented egos crammed into one concentrated space, Dave McKean would be the perfect antidote. Quietly self-effacing, painfully modest, and obviously more happy as an observer than a performer, he seems slightly bemused but still chuffed that he's managed to sell out the room on a wet and cold Tuesday night. McKean doesn't even bother making a grand entrance, instead fiddling with his laptop wiring on the floor next to the stage whilst the audience wander in, and only entering the spotlight when directly called upon. Fortunately said spotlight is quickly dimmed as we spend the next hour gazing upon McKean's massive portfolio, accompanied by his commentary; the inspiration behind some of work, stories of the various people he's worked with, his own thoughts looking back on some of his career landmarks.

But it's all told in a sublimely ordinary fashion, obviously unprepared and peppered with McKean's infectious enthusiasm and dry wit, so you inevitably end up feeling like you're simply sitting in his living room having a chat over a cup of tea. It may seem incongruous to invite such a strongly visual artist to a book festival (McKean's written only one book) but even such a brief tour through his life's work and the many fields it has appeared in, is enough to remind us - should we need it - that one should always be careful of pigeonholding any creative talent to just one form. Kudos to the Book Festival for their open minded programming and a unique event.