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Jonathon Coudrille
Birth name Jonathon Xavier Coudrille
Born 1945 (1945)
Field Painting

Jonathon Xavier Coudrille, (born 1945) is a Cornish artist, writer and composer.

Life and work

Jonathon Coudrille SWAc was trained as a painter, but started his career as a political satirist, song writer and performer.

His paintings have strong associations with Surrealism as he studied with John Tunnard and the late Conroy Maddox was a personal friend. Although early works are often signed J.X.Coudrille or JXC, they are usually identified via the artist's monogram. At the age of 18 he sold a painting to the Bank of Nova Scotia, and bought a Rolls Royce with the proceeds. His first solo exhibition was at the inaugural Harrogate Festival, and he has exhibited at the Royal Academy and the South West Academy. He has also been exhibited as a guest artist of the Stuckists. In 2004, his work was included in The Stuckists Punk Victorian show at the Walker Art Gallery during the Liverpool Biennial.

Jonathon's books include the remarkable Psychographic Alphabet book: "A Beastly Collection" published by Frederick Warne in 1974. This extraordinary book was widely praised by critics. Indeed, it could be said to be the first truly Surreal children's book. Copies are now much sought after as collector's items. It was, and still is, a work of genius - a tour de force.

"A Beastly Collection" was soon followed by a number of colourful and enthusiastically received children's books for the innovative G. Whizzard imprint, including the best selling "Farmer Fisher" (G.Whizzard, imprint of Andre Deutsch). This was the first picture book on the British market to incorporate a record. Coudrille wrote, produced, sang and played most of the instruments on this record and was chosen as 1976 Children's Book Of The Year.

His compositions include themes for the first Get This series (Southern Television 1970s), and the Caballetta Suite for Spanish guitar, premiered in the 1980s in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra at London’s Festival Hall. He now writes for and performs with the jazz-orientated Cornish semi-acoustic band Gwelhellin Goth (The Gentleman’s Luncheon Club) and is half of the Russian folk-music duo Muzika Muzikantov.

His father, Francis Coudrill (1913-1989) was an enthusiast for the skills of the Wild West, was a crack shot and could spin and throw a rope with great accuracy. He was also a painter but is best known as the creator of the television puppet and cartoon character Hank the Cowboy, featured along with Muffin the Mule and Humphrey Lestoq on the early children’s television magazine programme ‘Whirligig’. The discrepancy over surname spelling is said to be due to the theatrical union Equity requiring differentiation between the two members. "Coudrille" is a reversion to the earlier Norman spelling.

Coudrille is an honorary member of The Arts Club, an Academician of the South West Academy of Fine and Applied Arts, a member of the Society of Authors and the Arts Correspondent for Cornwall World Radio. His interests are the garden at his cliff-top studio, cookery, religion and knife throwing. He lives in Cornwall.

Music History

Jonathon Xavier Coudrille, writer, painter, romantic and musician, received his first guitar, a (beautifully) homemade orange box special from his father at the age of four. Although the music of the Gypsies is central to his inspiration, he has performed in many genres, having commenced at sixteen as broadcasting singer-songwriter and political satirist, worked on film scores in Rome in the sixties, experimented with chamber ensembles and electric underground bands in the seventies (his instrument is predominantly the Spanish guitar, yet he was named top rock-folk soloist by Melody Maker in 1974) whilst acting as musical director for sadly missed Southern Television; since when he has been know to play gutsy bar piano and fretless banjo, given a master class to guitar students at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, duetted with Russian domra wizard Alyosha Zolotuhin and Yugoslav guitarist Dusko Popovic, toured the world with the celebrated Kazatka Cossacks and the Albion Trio, prior to premiering his acclaimed "Caballetta" guitar suite as soloist in convert with the National Symphony Orchestra at London's Festival Hall. He has returned to live in West Cornwall, playing with balalaika virtuoso John Holden as "Muzika Muzikantov", his band “Gwelhellin Goth” and of course, still a formidable solo performer in his own right, as himself.

Press Releases

London Evening News December 13, 1975 JONATHON JUMPS ON THE ONE-MAN BANDWAGON When guitar player Jonathon Coudrille was laying flat on his back recovering from a car crash he found time hanging heavily on his hands - so he wrote a children's book. The book - an animal alphabet was a success and Coudrille was on the way to becoming a big name in the children's book business. His second book was the runaway best seller Farmer Fisher. With the book came a record and the whole thing, book, pictures, song, words, music, and performance was the work of Coudrille. Sales of the book have reached 14,000 copies and by Christmas, 18,000 children could be reading it. The song on the record is being sung in assembly at some schools…. Coudrille appeared on children's television in the West Country and wrote songs for the BBC…

The Guardian October 16, 1975 AUTUMN BOOKS FOR CHILDREN - ALL THE FUN OF THE FARM Easily the best buy among the season's picture books is Jonathon Coudrille's hilarious one-man mixed-media show Farmer Fisher. As the blurb admits, it's really a clever new roundup of Old MacDonald's farmyard, with Farmer Fisher setting out in his muck-coloured truck bulging with fat stock and flora. The truck breaks down, and so, spectacularly, does the mad miscellany of motors he hails to give him a tow. In the end, it's the horse ("of course") that pulls the whole cavalcade to market.

Mr Coudrille wrote it, drew it, and sings it in rattling Country and Western style. It all works together very well, and went straight to the top of the charts with my sixes and sevens!

Cumberland News December 17, 1974 JONATHON COUDRILLE Jonathon Coudrille's A Beastly Collection is a lark: a beast of beasts take on the shape of a letter and inspire an alliterative comment: W, for example, is three walking walruses "walking in the wet" in "Wellingtons and waiters' waistcoats".

Amusing and cleverly engineered.

The Cornishman October 17, 1974 BEASTS Jonathon Coudrille, born and raised in Cadgwith, has written and illustrated a delightful and humorous ABC "A Beastly Collection". The animal world with verse and drawings in unique style of presentation, are given alliterative explanations. For example: "U" of course if for Unicorn: "Ulric the unicorn is an unusual, indeed, unlikely, ungulate (ungulates are animals which have hooves)".

A book with hours of pleasure to be captured and recaptured.

Newsagent & Bookshop October 11, 1974 BEASTLY A new and rather splendid ABC has recently been published by Frederick Warne. It is called A Beastly Collection and it is a distinguished looking, large format book drawn and written by Jonathon Coudrille, and given apt typographical support by the publishers.

It is, say the publishers, "an ABC which invitingly educates as it fascinates both those too young to read and those too busy to bother. Detectable traces of Edward Lear and Lewis Caroll, but essentially original Jonathon Coudrille."

Stationery Trade Review September, 1974 A BEASTLY COLLECTION A Beastly Collection (Warne) is a quite unique ABC book to educate and fascinate for ages 3 to 300. Each letter is accompanied by an intricately drawn animal (or animals) of some sort and there is an outrageously alliterative explanation for every illustration. Many of these words are the publishers own but, having been privileged to see a set of advanced page proofs, I agree with every one of them ==

See also

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