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Roy Huxley: The Golden Years of Matchbox Art

Mar 23, 2023

Edited:

Reading Time: 2 minutes

02 Dec 2023

One of my most popular articles was the short piece I did on Roy Huxley: Roy Huxley Rediscovered. And it is a short piece, more of a reflection than anything else and at the time I noted that there were no published books of Huxley’s work. In 2020, I amended the article to mention a new book that was coming out, dedicated to Huxley’s work for Matchbox, for whom he worked for many years.

Well, this is a long awaited look at that book…

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The title – ‘Roy Huxley: The Golden Year of Matchbox Art’ kind of says everything this book is about. The large format hardback is, if nothing else, a fabulous archive of Huxley’s work for the two decades he produced work for the Matchbox line of model kits. With a short, yet interesting introduction to Huxley’s entry into the world of illustration, and a foreword by Huxley’s agent of many years, the work within is logically broken down into the actual ranges of the kits – ‘Purple Range’, ‘Orange Range’, ‘Military Vehicles’ etc. Each section is started with a double page spread of ‘thumbnails’ with the following pages showing each in full page glory.

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Seeing the artwork sans additional box graphics is quite a treat and anyone who admires, or practices art/illustration, will find the large colour plates worthy of their time, especially since Huxley is such a master at creating dynamic, yet technically correct illustrations. Perhaps though, the winner for me is the ‘running commentary’ from Huxley on the work itself. From interesting little insights, to the ‘politics’ of management decisions, the commentary adds an additional layer of life to the book, highlighting the trials and tribulations of the commercial illustrator working with clients. This is then further enhanced by editorial decision before and after images, as well as images that were not published in their original form.

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I am not sure what else to say about this book, which I think conveys its strength as a document of Roy Huxley’s work. With absolutely no expectations as to what I was going to get when I ordered the book on a whim, that I found it to be an ideal balance of interesting backgrounding, artist commentary and the perfect display of work, means to me at least, this is a book worth having in the library.

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