Wendy Froud’s The Art of Wendy Froud is an 80 page art book, a collection of examples of her amazing faerie and mythic sculptures and her musings on the nature of her work. More than that, it’s an adventure for the reader, as every page brings new and amazing images to awaken the imagination.
The book begins with a brief foreword by Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop, the magicians who provided special effects for Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and a company which owes much to the inspiration of Brian and Wendy Froud. He speaks of the “intricacy of the costuming, delicate sculptural finesse of her faces, exquisite miniature props, and the enchanted environments. . . .” of Wendy’s work — and indeed, that is exactly what you’ll find in this book. In her sculpture entitled Bedtime Story, a lovely lady reads to the small girl on her lap from a tiny copy of The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. In Listen! a richly dressed woman gazes in wonder at a tiny winged sprite she holds in her hand — the sprite is beautifully detailed and cannot be more than an inch or so tall, as the entire sculpture is only 16 inches high! The Goblin’s Nursemaid is 7 inches in height, and she holds a tiny goblin baby in her arms!
At such a small scale, the fine and intricate detailing of the costumes and even more so the faces of her creatures is a miracle that highlights the incredible skill of Wendy Froud as a technical artist. Certainly the imagination and creativity shown in her work is awe-inspiring and delights those who come into contact with her fey creatures, whether through books, film or in person. Personally, I was entranced by the sheer variety of her work as showcased in this volume. Many readers will remember Wendy Froud as having worked for Jim Henson, creating Muppets, or for the creatures she helped bring to life in films such as The Dark Crystal. Science fiction geeks may even remember that she was the creator of the beloved Yoda of Star Wars legend. But like the land of Faerie itself, there is much more to Froud’s work than the gelflings or goblins who may first come to mind at the mention of her name.
Froud opens the book with an autobiographical introduction, briefly detailing the history of her life and career. She goes on to take the reader on a journey through the many facets of her work, with beautiful photographs of her different styles of creation and her own musings on each section. She has divided her dolls into the varied categories into which they fall by feeling or style, though many of her creations could easily shift section at will. Romantica, Fantastica, Angelica, Faerieana, Gothica. . . . I believe her Faerieana may be, to many, the most familiar of her work but I fell deeply in love with her final section, Mythica. The delicate white lady centaur entitled Centaurine . . . Pan playing his pipes in a reverie . . . a minotaur, a dryad, and my personal favorites, several versions of sphinxes.
The Art of Wendy Froud is a must-have for anyone who has enjoyed her books or her work in films. It’s certainly a must-have for anyone who loves beautiful and mysterious creatures. Wendy Froud says in her text “Often when I work . . . I find that I have no recollection of time spent, no sense that time has passed.” I found that myself as the reader, wandering through her art, entranced and wondering.