As I mentioned before in previous posts, I’ve always been an ardent fan of Roald Dahl books and, of course, Quentin Blake’s fabulous illustrations. They’re so detailed and atmospheric yet scribbly and impulsive. I always wondered how he manages to NAIL that quintessential balanced look every time.
I had heard about the opening of “The House of Illustration” about a month ago. It’s inaugural exhibition is called “Inside Stories,” a landmark show by none other than Monsieur Blake himself.
Whilst visiting London for my Summer break, I was hellbent on visiting this one by hook or by crook. I imagined this exhibition was going to be like watching that TV show where the masked magician reveals how all magical illusions are performed. It would be like seeing all the clever, behind-the scenes-action of illustrating a children’s book and nothing thrills me more than the opportunity of picking my favorite illustrator’s brain.
Situated in a rather cute little terracotta brick house on Granary Square, the new museum is very central and easy to find. It’s just a short walk from Kings Cross Station.
This exhibition offers a unique insight into the origins of some of Blake’s most characteristic and popular creations such as Roald Dahl’s The Twits and Danny the Champion of the World to his own Clown and The Boy in The Dress by David Walliams, together with illustrations to books by John Yeoman, Russell Hoban and Michael Rosen.
The various sections include write ups and notes by the illustrator himself. These were great because they explain his whole thought process behind each project firsthand and have a lovely selection of artwork laid out consisting of rough loose raw sketches and more finished, inked in pieces.
Reading his notes on The Twits in particular fascinated me (one of my favorite children’s books). Blake mentioned he deliberately used hard nipped sharp pens to convey the rough and unpleasant personalities of this famous gruesome twosome.
Another project that interested me was his work on “Michael Rosen’s Sad Book” which is quite different to his whimsical cheerful illustrations because it is about death of the author’s teenage son. Blake’s illustrations are brilliant examples of how artwork can be used to visually convey grief, isolation, numbness and poignancy.
You know how after a trip to the Zoo, buying an overpriced helium animal shaped balloon is mandatory as a souvenir? Well, books from the gift shop are MY “helium balloons” and I indulged by buying this little treasure.
Quentin Blake’s “Inside Stories” is on display at the museum until the 2nd of November.