• Meet the Creators of Mama: A World of Mothers and Motherhood

    by  • 2 November 2021 • Author Interview, Authors • 0 Comments

    Hélène Delforge is a journalist, writer, mother and stepmother. After studying languages and literature at Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, she became a teacher and has been a journalist for over twenty years. At home in her native Brussels, Hélène writes overlooking her garden with a cat asleep in her desk drawer and five or six cups of coffee around her computer. She is a parent to four teenagers. Mama is her first book.

    Quentin Gréban is a world-renowned and award-winning illustrator and artist. He studied at the Institut Saint-Luc in Brussels, Belgium, and has published more than sixty-five children’s books, which have been translated all over the world. A father of three daughters, Quentin lives in Brussels and works in his home studio, surrounded by drawings of his children and listening to his dog snoring.

    Adapted from an interview originally conducted by Terre de Metzo publishing house, Italy.

    Hélène, tell us everything our readers should know about Quentin?

    Hélène: Ah, shall I talk about his passion for knitting when he was a child? No, I wouldn’t dare. (Or did I just do it?)

    It is obvious that Quentin Gréban is a great artist. And I can confirm that he is also a lovely person. He is refined, curious, passionate about beauty. He is both an imaginative artist and a lover of science, who defends his opinions but listens to and respects others. He’s a precious friend, a peerless brother (-in-law), a caring son, and he can improvise a barbecue in his fireplace when it’s raining.

    And Quentin, tell us about Hélène?

    Quentin : Hélène is both very talented and has great emotional intelligence. Her texts about mothers are all so original, and different, in rhythm and point of view. You can feel the experience and empathy in her words. And that is why her words are so universal and timeless; they speak to parents wherever they are in the world, whatever their gender and whatever their age.

    How did you meet? How did you start working together? 

    H : Quentin is my brother-in-law. I knew his work, firstly because he and my husband had written a book together, secondly because I had read his books to my children. Then one day, in summer, he showed up on my terrace with his big drawing portfolio and showed me some portraits of mothers. I thought they were wonderful. And he asked me if I’d be inspired enough to write some words to go with them. I pretended to think about it for three seconds and said that I would try. I wrote a few things, he liked them… and that was that.

    Q : Hélène is my sister-in-law and my neighbour! She is a journalist and I’d long admired her writing. So when this project came up, she was the natural person to turn to.

    Tell us about Mama – where did the idea come from and how did you work together? 

    H : We’re both quite solitary people, so we worked in parallel. It started with Quentin; he created the drawings, showed them to me and I tried to write something worthy of them. To start with, he told me his ideas behind every drawing but over time, we realised it was better for me to bring my imagination as well. That brought the unexpected and was more playful. It also freed him up to just draw in whatever way he was inspired.

    We both wanted to avoid a cutesy message for the book. We wanted to show different facets of motherhood: to be true and personal, whilst still being universal. This is probably the only rule that we set. He was very respectful of my words; he didn’t change anything and was always very kind, positive and encouraging.

    Q: I’ve always loved portraits and I wanted to do a book of portraits. My editor suggested using the mother-child relationship as a theme. I created the portraits from my own imagination, without the constraints of a text. Then Hélène put words to the images. Some texts perfectly reflect my own ideas and experiences (such as breastfeeding, long sleepless nights, etc) and others are straight from Hélène’s imagination. They’re all stunning. She’s so talented.

    In Mama, you explore the theme of motherhood in different cultures and eras. Why? 

    H : It comes from Quentin’s aesthetic wishes (which are the same as mine) to remind us that emotions and feelings are universal and timeless.

    Q : The different cultures and eras are, above all, a pleasure to illustrate. I love to draw different costumes, atmospheres and settings. But Hélène’s texts make each drawing timeless and human above all. I think this is why the book has been so successful: everyone can identify with it.


    Mama: A World of Mothers and Motherhood

    Powerful, emotive, unforgettable – Mama speaks to all mothers in the international language of love.
    Watch the video trailer

    This is a stunning collection of vivid portraits and intimate reflections on motherhood from around the globe. Mama uniquely portrays the emotions and experiences that unite mothers from different times and diverse cultures.

    Twenty-one striking watercolour portraits and lively pencil sketches by acclaimed artist Quentin Gréban are paired with Hélène Delforge’s lyrical words to create a thought-provoking celebration of motherhood in all its complexity: the satisfaction and the sadness, the frustration and the fun – and, always, the love.

    This moving and joyful book is a perfect gift for mamas everywhere.

    Find out more

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