I’ve been meaning to blog about this one for ages: Through the Magic Mirror: The World of Anthony Browne is Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne’s retrospective exhibition at the fabulous Seven Stories in Newcastle.
Although Anthony’s work is frequently exhibited both in the UK and abroad, surprisingly he has never had a solo exhibition in the UK on this scale. The exhibition covers the whole of his career as an author and illustrator, and like most of Seven Stories’ shows (I blogged about a previous one, There’s Nuffin Like a Puffin) it is an interactive experience as much as a straightforward exhibition. Visitors can enter the back yard from Changes, crawl through The Tunnel, dress up in Willy the Wimp‘s stripey pullover, or play the Shape Game, as well as having the chance to examine incredibly beautiful original artwork from Anthony’s books.
I was lucky enough to go along to the opening of exhibition back in April, which was a great day. Seven Stories served up appropriately themed refreshments, from monkey nuts to banana cakes, to their guests, who included children who were involved with the Picture Book Project, an education project Seven Stories developed with Action for Children, based around Anthony’s books. Children’s work from the Picture Book Project was also on display in the Book Den gallery, along with a fantastic film of Anthony meeting children from the project, as well as a friendly gorilla.
Having spent the last two years working on Anthony’s Laureateship, walking round this beautifully put together exhibition was actually an oddly emotional experience for me, especially as it included artefacts such as the original dressing gown belonging to Anthony’s father, which has repeatedly reappeared in many of his books. But regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with Anthony’s work, this is a great fun exhibition for adults and children alike.
Through the Magic Mirror: The World of Anthony Browne is at Seven Stories until 14 March 2012.
So this is the kind of thing that’s been keeping me far too busy to do much blogging here recently. It’s been a hectic few weeks at work: last week we announced the winners of our Booktrust Best New Illustrators Award 2011. The prize recognises the best emerging talent in children’s book illustration, and the ten winners, who have all illustrated their first published book since 2005, certainly show the wonderful vitality and diversity of picture book illustration today.
All of the artworks by the winners are beautiful, but I thought I’d share a few of my personal favourites here. You can see more at the Booktrust website, or visit an exhibition of the artworks which I have been working on, and which is showing in London over the next few months, before travelling further afield….
Salvatore Rubbino from A Walk in New York (Walker Books)
: from The Odd Dog
endpapers from Star Gazers, Skyscrapers and Extraordinary Sausages
: from Wake Up!
and Box of Tricks
(Random House Children’s Books)
If you’re anything like me, when you visit someone’s home for the first time, you just can’t resist taking a look at their bookshelves. There’s something about people’s book collections that’s incredibly personal and revealing, which is exactly what artist Jane Mount aims to capture in her project Ideal Bookshelves. In this series of artworks, Jane paints sets of individuals’ favourite books in her own unique take on portraiture.
Some of the sets are themed according to her subjects’ particular likes (picture books, cookery books, gardening books, art books, or even a complete set of Harry Potters) but my favourites are the ones that, like my own bookshelves, muddle lots of very different books together in a pleasingly idiosyncractic selection, so the Hardy Boys can sit alongside Nietzsche (yes, really) and Steven Hawking with Dr Seuss.
You can see more examples at the Ideal Bookshelf blog, or on Etsy: Jane also paints ‘ideal bookshelves’ on commission.
Of course, all this has got me thinking about which books I would choose to be on my own ideal bookshelf. A very tricky decision… which books would you choose?
Tuesday’s thought for the day. This could be my own personal strapline. Print by Chris Piascik available via the Urban Outfitters Print Shop.
P.S. Artists, illustrators, creators… have you joined the follow the yellow brick Flickr pool yet? Dive in here!
So this is what’s been keeping me so busy recently that I’ve had little time for writing. The Shape Game project is something I’ve been working on as part of my work with the Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne, and this new book (above) was launched on Monday.
If you haven’t heard of the Shape Game before, it’s basically a collaborative drawing game. Anthony Browne explains it as follows:
‘When we were children, my brother Michael and I thought this game was our invention, but having spoken to children all over the world, I have since discovered that children everywhere know it and play their own versions. The wonderful thing about the Shape Game is that anyone with a little bit of imagination can join in.
‘As Children’s Laureate, I want to help and connect with children everywhere, and encourage them to use their imaginations and be creative. Although it’s just a simple game, I believe the Shape Game is the perfect way to do this. It encapsulates the act of creativity – inspiration is everywhere. I have played the Shape Game in every single book I have made, and now you have the chance to join in and play it, too!’
As part of the project, 45 writers, artists, illustrators and celebrities – ranging from Quentin Blake and Shirley Hughes to Emma Thompson and Harry Hill – joined Anthony to play the game, transforming a shape he drew. You can see some of my favourites amongst the artworks below or look at a gallery on the Guardian website here. All the artworks have been published in the new Play the Shape Game book which we have been working on with the wonderful Walker Books, and which aims to help all children to be creative and use their imaginations. They’re also for sale until Sunday in an online auction.
Profits from the book and auction will be donated to children’s charity Rainbow Trust, who provide vital emotional and practical support to families who have a child with a life-threatening or terminal illness. You can find loads more about the project on the Children’s Laureate website here.
Sir Peter Blake