Quentin Blake & Friends come to Mottisfont in a new exhibition of original illustrations

July 9, 2014

One of the nation’s best-loved artists comes to Mottisfont this summer in a new exhibition of work by Quentin Blake and other leading contemporary children’s illustrators. Visitors will be able to see for the first time 21 new drawings made by Quentin for the hit West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, full of his usual wit and sharp-eyed
observations.

Quentin has been drawing all his life. ‘I remember a visitor during the war saying “He draws a lot, but he won’t speak!”. His talent was soon noticed: Punch first published his drawings when he was just 16. ‘They paid me seven guineas each. I didn’t know what to do with the cheque; I didn’t have a bank account!’

Since then, Quentin Blake has become internationally famous, known both for his own books and for his collaborations with other authors, most famously Roald Dahl. He taught illustration for more than 20 years at the Royal College of Art. In more recent years, he has curated exhibitions in major museums and has made larger-scale works for hospitals and healthcare settings. His books and illustrations have won awards all over the world.

‘Blake is beyond brilliant. He is anarchic, moral, infinitely subversive, sometimes vicious, socially acute, sparse when he has to be, exuberantly lavish in the details when he feels like it. He can tell wonderful stories without a single word… I’ve never met a child who didn’t love Quentin Blake.’ (Melanie McDonagh, Daily Telegraph)

‘We are so excited to be showing Quentin’s work this summer’, says Louise Govier, Visitor Experience Manager at Mottisfont and curator of its gallery. ‘So many of us have wonderful memories of discovering his books and of course of how he brought Roald Dahl’s stories to life. His new work is just as fresh and funny – his drawings of people lusting for chocolate are hilarious. He pokes fun at all sorts of things in modern life, but we find ourselves smiling even as we sometimes recognise ourselves.’

The original drawings and watercolours in the show have all been lent by the Chris Beetles Gallery in London, and all of these unique works are for sale. The gallery is also lending stunning watercolour illustrations by artists including Michael Foreman, Emma Chichester Clark, John Burningham, Helen Oxenbury, Rebecca Cobb and Oliver Jeffers. The stories illustrated range from classics such as Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland and classic fairy tales to works by Terry Jones and Michael Morpurgo.

‘This show covers a really broad range of styles, from the rich detail and deep colours of Michael Foreman to the simple figures captured in a few deft lines that characterise Oliver Jeffers’ work,’ says Louise. ‘I’m also really excited to see the new work by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury – anyone who’s read We’re going on a bear hunt with their kids will recognise Helen’s style immediately. These really are some of the best illustrators working today, and it’s fascinating to contrast how differently they all use pictures to tell stories.’

Visiting families can take inspiration from the exhibition and set off on an epic imaginative story trail around the house and grounds, creating their own illustrated books as they go. They embark upon an adventure, create a hero or heroine, then write a story as they accompany that character on a journey that involves physical feats of daring, tests of strength and agility, challenges to friendship and loyalty and of course, large amounts of imagination and creativity.

On special event weekends in August there are lots of additional hands-on activities, including helping to make the biggest picture book ever! You might even get some tips from Quentin Blake himself, and meet some of the other authors. Special event weekends are on 2/3, 16/17, and 30/31 August, and feature storytelling, performance, and on the final weekend, storytellers from the Roald Dahl Museum.

Mottisfont’s shop is also stocking a range of wonderful prints, books, mugs and other gifts associated with Quentin Blake’s illustrations, so if an original work is a little beyond your budget, you can still take home a little Quentin Blake magic to make you smile.

We are also launching a competition on Mottisfont’s Facebook and twitter channels where you have the chance to a golden ticket to our exhibition! Join us @MottisfontNT

Mottisfont is open every day, from 10am to 5pm.