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Strength to draw on
Kim Smith uncovers Suffolk’s role in an artistic phenomenon that has helped so many endure the pandemic
When Charlie Mackesy pondered the definition of courage, he decided it was being brave enough to ask for help when anxiety becomes overwhelming. As an illustrator, it was natural for him to then create a physical depiction of that and he sketched a boy asking a horse, “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever said?”, and the horse answers, “Help”.
Charlie started posting his charming drawings on social media and they attracted a big enough
following for him to be offered a graphic-book deal by Ebury Press, a division of Penguin Books. The resulting title, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, was published in October 2019. It sees the boy contemplating profound questions about love, life and companionship as he encounters various animals on a walk in the countryside.
That was in the halcyon days before Covid-19 so he had no way of knowing that his work would go on to become huge, providing a much- needed soothing balm for these stricken times. The NHS started using the drawings as ‘

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