Spreading good vibes with John Drysdale's iconic images of animals and children
One of the biggest trends to emerge on Instagram this year is the posting of images to represent a feeling. Spearheaded by the likes of Michel Gaubert, countless creatives have followed – with various success – sourcing vintage images that serve as visual metaphors. Monday morning (don’t-want-to-go-to-work-feelings) and Friday Joy (thank-God-the-weekend-is-here).
Ugandan-born John Drysdale has been creating images that induce good feelings for decades. After being invited to study at the Guilford College of Art in England, his first assignments were in London with Norman Parkinson at Vogue Studios and with Cecil Beaton, as court photographer for Queen Elizabeth and her family at Buckingham Palace. His photographs of unusual interspecies bonding and of children are internationally acclaimed.
Here, we select some of our favourite moments from his iconic book Our Peaceable Kingdom, with stories behind the photos.
“The orphaned llama and the Rhodesian Ridgeback became fast friends and played and stayed together day and night.”
“The lambs were bottle-fed by a Cornish farmer and became playmates for his daughters. When they grew into sheep, the girls enjoyed a few gentle rides, which eventually developed into full-tilt galloping.”
“At the pub near Billericay, Essex, the horse had become a steady customer after having shown a liking for beer. The horse grew accustomed to enjoying a pint, and would regularly enter the pub and be served at the owner’s expense. The ambience inside the pub was one of nonchalant good fellowship between horse and human patrons.”
“In Rutland, England, the Labrador-collie was not content to wait on the shore and watch her mistress waterskiing. After each ski run, she would swim out into the lake and retrieve her owner’s skis, often struggling to get on them herself. Eventually, her mistress tried an experiment: she clamped a board onto the skis to see if they could ski together and if the dog would like it. The dog loved it, every minute of it, and she would bark happily, triumphantly, and continually througout her water-ski rides.”
“When asked by his mother to lend a hand with the tedious task of holding a feeding bottle several times a day, the boy devised an ingenious bit of footwork to accomplish the job and to remain free to focus on more boyish concerns.”
“Admiral Horatio Nelson lived in this baronial hall in Cricket St. Thomas, England, and walked up and down this staircase two centuries before the little girl used it to exercise her father’s pet crocodile.”
“The young hippopotamus was attacked by a male hippo and removed for safety. After a difficult period being bottle-fed, the baby hippo roamed freely in the garden and would enter the house, hoping for more food and sometimes watching television with the little boy. The boy and the hippo were hugely amused by each other.”
“The girl grew up with the elephant and they became best friends, playing with one another daily. They simply liked being together, and, since the elephant had an unusual ability to sit on his haunches, they were able to be close with physical ease.”