Celebrating 50 years of Britain’s best loved picture book at Mottisfont

June 7, 2018


Mottisfont is delighted to present an exhibition that explores the life and celebrates the work of one of Britain’s best known author–illustrators for children, Judith Kerr OBE.

Honouring the 50th anniversary of the much-loved classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea, the exhibition – originated by Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, in partnership with HarperCollins Children’s Books – promises to bring this delightful book to life for a new generation of families. Mottisfont’s exhibition also includes over 30 original illustrations from other well-loved works by Judith Kerr, including the Mog stories, plus a themed outdoor activity trail.

Opening on Saturday 7 July, Judith Kerr: The Tiger Who Came to Tea launches a nationwide tour of Judith’s work to be displayed at 11 National Trust properties across the UK. The exhibition brings the magic of The Tiger Who Came to Tea story vividly to life with a giant cuddly tiger and an interactive kitchen, so that children can make their own tea for the tiger, as well as enjoying Judith Kerr’s iconic drawings.

Judith Kerr’s first picture book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea began as a bedtime story for her own children and was published in 1968. With sales of over 5 million copies, generations of children, parents and grandparents have delighted in the story of a little girl called Sophie and her extraordinary teatime guest.

Alongside facsimiles of original artwork from The Tiger Who Came to Tea, notes and sketches, Mottisfont is displaying an exclusive selection of original artworks from some of Judith Kerr’s other books. Visitors will be able to get close to original illustrations from the Mog stories, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, The Crocodile Under the Bed, and several others.

As well as celebrating favourite stories, visitors have the opportunity to explore Judith’s childhood and her experiences of having to escape Germany as Hitler came to power, how it felt to be a refugee in Switzerland, then France before finally settling in London in 1936. Judith writes about these experiences through three semi-autobiographical novels for older children in her Out of the Hitler Time trilogy, through the story of her alter ego Anna.

The exhibition gives a unique insight into Judith’s life and work, including access to childhood drawings where we discover how Judith developed into the artist and story teller we know today. Visitors can also watch a short film, featuring children from Christ Church C of E Primary School in Newcastle upon Tyne. They have investigated why the issues of conflict and displacement are as relevant today as in the 1930s, including interviews and footage of Judith at work in her studio at home.

Judith Kerr said:

“I first told this story to my small daughter long ago. She was rather critical of my other stories but used to say, ‘Talk the tiger!’ So, when she and her brother were both at school and I had more time, I thought I would make it into a picture book – and much to my amazement, here it still is 50 years later.”

Ann-Janine Murtagh, Executive Publisher at HarperCollins Children’s Books said:

“We are privileged to have been Judith’s publishing home since 1968 and honoured to publish her iconic book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea. In a momentous year for the Tiger, it is a joy to be partnering with Seven Stories and The National Trust on this magical exhibition celebrating the life and work of the extraordinary Judith Kerr.

Sarah Lawrance, Collection Director at Seven Stories said:

“Among the most remarkable treasures in Judith’s archive, held by Seven Stories, is a sequence of childhood drawings. These fragile images depict scenes of a happy, ordinary, life seen through the eyes of a young girl (with a precocious talent for drawing!). Coupled with Judith’s autobiographical writings, these give a unique insight into her life at that time, and show how – despite all the difficulties – her talent for writing and illustrating grew and grew.”

Kate Edwards, Chief Executive at Seven Stories said:

“Seven Stories is honoured to be the custodian of Judith Kerr’s archive and privileged to be curator of an exhibition that celebrates her remarkable life and her outstanding contribution to children’s literature. Visitors to Mottisfont will be treated to a unique opportunity to see reproductions of Judith’s precious artwork, which shows how, through a lifetime of looking and drawing, her stories have become part of our nation’s childhood.”

An outdoor family activity trail, inspired by Judith Kerr’s illustrations, will run alongside Mottisfont’s exhibition. Judith Kerr: The Tiger Who Came to Tea runs from 7 July – 2 September 2018. Mottisfont’s gallery opens at 11am and closes at 5pm. Normal property admission price only. For visitors unable to access the second floor gallery, we have digital versions of exhibitions on iPads which are available on lower levels.

For more information about the exhibition, visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont/features/the-tiger-who-came-to-tea-exhibition-at-mottisfont. For more information about Mottisfont visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont or call 01794 340757.

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