Child’s Play  

The power of the image is celebrated in a new exhibition at the British Library through ten books that have been illustrated and re-interpreted throughout the 20th Century. Picture This: Children’s Illustrated Classics shows how, in our favourite children’s books, the stories are remembered as much for the artistic interpretation of the illustrator and their relationship with the story.

But how to choose the ten books?

This job fell upon the exhibition curator Dr Matthew Eve, who is a writer and illustrator. He said: ‘This exhibition is a nostalgic trip back to our childhoods and a celebration of the often-neglected art of the children’s book illustrator, as well as showing the ways in which classic children’s books continue to inspire readers and illustrators.

‘If we recall our favourite books from childhood, it’s likely the illustrations will come to mind as readily the story. Those magical pictures leave an indelible mark and remain with us for life, helping to shape and develop our imagination. Whether our image of Willy Wonka or Augustus Gloop was drawn by Quentin Blake or Faith Jaques, each of us has ‘our’ version which we continue to enjoy with subsequent generations of children.’

The exhibition features at least four illustrated editions or pieces of artwork for each title: Just So Stories, The Iron Man, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wind in the Willows, Paddington Bear, Peter Pan and Wendy, The Hobbit, The Borrowers, The Secret Garden and The Railway Children.

Works by Quentin Blake, Michael Foreman, Peggy Fortnum and Lauren Child offer an intriguing insight into new ways to look at British children’s books.

Dr Eve adds: ‘It has often crossed my mind that there must be new, entertaining and interesting perspectives from which children’s book history can be told, especially if the focus is on illustration.

‘It’s been enormous fun researching, discovering, selecting and rejecting titles from the Library’s cavernous collections, as well as including a few items from my own collection. Indeed the idea for this exhibition stems from my childhood correspondence with children’s writers and illustrators and my subsequent collection of drawings, such as the sketches of Paddington Bear on display.”

As well as a series of events on children’s books, the free exhibition also features five specially filmed interviews with four distinguished illustrators and Paddington Bear author Michael Bond, describing the relationship between story and illustration, author and artist.

The free exhibition runs until January 26 in the Folio Society Library. Check the website for more details.

Best of the rest

Now here’s a fantastic opportunity for your students – the chance to be shown at the Saatchi Gallery! The Art Prize for Schools is open to students from aged four to 18, giving them a chance to have their work recognised and be in for a shot of the £24,000 prize fund. Work is shown in the first instance on the Saatchi Gallery website, then 20 works will be shortlisted and exhibited in the Gallery.

The winner is announced in April. Schools can enter as many art works as they wish, and there is no prescribed theme for works entered nor is there a restriction on media used (sculpture, painting, installation, photography and mixed media art works are all eligible and welcome).

All work created in the academic year 2012/13 and 2013/14 is eligible. Entries must be submitted online at portfolio/AddSchool.php

The Eykyn Maclean gallery presents Van Gogh in Paris exploring the years 1886 to 1888 when the artist was living and working in the French capital. With a career that spanned no more than ten years in total before his premature death in 1890, Van Gogh’s two years in Paris were critical in his transition away from the dark, sombre works of his Dutch period toward the bright colours and expressive handling for which he is best known today. The exhibition runs until November 29. Admission is free but book first on 0207 499 6244.

And finally, did you catch Grayson Perry’s Reith Lectures? Priceless! When I last looked it was still available as a podcast. Excellent food for thought.