Composing The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow

Composing The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow

The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow is a beautiful collection of brand new folk tales by world-renowned author and illustrator Jackie Morris. Here she tells how how the new book came to be.

Years ago, when I began working in schools I wanted a book that would make working with children easy. I’m not a teacher, I am an artist, and as such I believe that part of my job is to encourage and enable others to use the voice they have in creative ways, to learn to express themselves through art. The result of this ‘need’ of mine was Tell Me a Dragon, a book that has now sold almost 40,000 copies and is used in schools all over the UK as a catalyst for imagining.

unnamed-2When I was asked to work on an ‘art’ book of some of my work from the last 30 years of illustrating and painting, I thought hard. I didn’t want to just put together one of those coffee table books that no one reads. My pictures are far more interesting than me. And I have so many different types of work. I suggested that we use the card designs I had produced for Help Musicians as a ‘prelude’ to an art book, but as we worked together at Graffeg, editorial and design, it became more than that.

Over seventeen years at a rate of one a year I have produced images that began to build a curious world. Characters moved between years and images, and narratives hid in the paintings. I had thought it would be easy to put words with the images. It wasn’t. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. But The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow grew into an adult version of Tell me a Dragon I think, a catalyst for creativity, a series of short lullabies for grown-ups.

I wanted the images to sing each year. Somehow I tried to paint music, and beauty. Each year people would ask me what the story was behind the card, what book it was from. My feeling was that the story was there for whoever took time to search in the image for it. Each year the cards took on a life of their own and I would get messages from people all around the world who had been sent them by friends. I met people who said that they never put their card away from one Christmas to the next. I heard stories from people who had sent the cards, people who received them.

Jackie Morris' studio
Jackie Morris’ studio

Now the cards have a new life in this book. And yet still the writing doesn’t tell the whole tale. Still there are spaces where questions are left hanging, to twine around a reader’s dreams.

You can read an exclusive extract from Jackie’s new book here in today’s Wales Arts Review. 

The Quiet music of Gently Falling Snow is published by Graffeg.

Tell Me a Dragon is published by Quarto Kids