Quentin Blake

28 Feb

On a recent day trip to Cambridge, I popped into the Fitzwilliam Museum to see their Quentin Blake exhibition. It included prints, sketches and etchings by the prolific illustrator, best known for his illustration of Roald Dahl’s children’s books. There were designs for hospital murals, French newspaper cartoons and materials from his studio, as well as children’s book covers, of course. My favourite was this series of prints celebrating 800 years of Cambridge University.

I love Blake’s scratchy style. Every illustration looks as though it was completed in seconds – a quick ink drawing here, a swish of watercolour there – and yet the way that personalities are rendered so instantly and recognisably from the smallest of stroke is phenomenal. Perhaps it’s because I was brought up on Blake (I went through a phase of reading and re-reading The Witches, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on loop, and I’ll never forget my brother’s Mr Magnolia fancy dress costume for a book day at primary school), but even his most recent illustrations emanate a wonderful sense of warm familiarity. The original cover illustrations for Russell Hoban’s Rosie’s Magic Horse and On Angel Wings by Michael Morpurgo were also on display in the exhibition. It’s so cheering to think of generations of children discovering and enjoying Blake’s new and old illustrations.

x Loulou

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