Virtually a household name in many countries on mainland Europe and also in the Far East, it is something of a mystery why the wonderful Beatrice Alemagna is published in the English language only through her ‘Bugs’ books. So three cheers for Phaidon and let’s hope they precede the publication in English of Alemagna’s more typical work, for example the beautifully lyrical (and hugely successful) Un Lion à Paris or her recent La Gigantesque Petite Chose (both published by Autrement).
The Bug Next Door follows Bugs in a Blanket and Bugs in the Garden and is perhaps even more charming than its predecessors. Alemagna’s unlikely subject matter is expressed visually through the equally unlikely but highly successful medium of embroidery. Ever inventive in her approach to materials and story telling, the artist manages to create a totally believable world of little characters, each one with a distinctly identifiable personality expressed through a richly textured yet controlled variety of felts, hessians and assorted ephemera. The Bug Next Door explores friendship, gender and attraction in a beautifully understated, very human way. Let us hope that the ‘Bugs’ books open the door for more of Alemagna’s work to get past the marketing departments of our major publishing houses.