The House of Illustration

By Megan Thomas

Kings Cross’ Granary Square is a really cool area that’s turning the once bricky, canal-side industrial area into something quite trendy and fun. There’s the Coal Drops Yard – once marshalling yards, now a boutique shopping experience. There’s Word On The Water, a floating book barge reminiscent of Nina Simon’s Little Paris Bookshop (and the reason I really want a house boat now). There’s a dreamy ice cream shop called Ruby Violet and a market on the weekends. And, most importantly, there’s the House of Illustration. 

There are monthly events and exhibitions. When I visited in May, Yimiao Shih’s exhibition, “Rabbrexit Means Rabbrexit” was on. Shih was the illustrator in residence at the House of Illustration and during her time there, she spent six months gathering opinions on Brexit… and then creating an allegorical exhibition in which it was applicable to rabbits trying to enter the UK. A hilariously astute and brilliant social commentary on public opinion, it was suggested that Wonderland’s White Rabbit’s possession of a pocket watch could only result in dire consequences for locksmiths’ jobs… Not to mention what would happen if Peter Rabbit stopped stealing carrots and tried a cheeky number on the queen’s roses! If you missed it, because it unfortunately finished in July, check the pictures of a few of my favourites – the rabbit tapestry is very high on the preference list! (I mean. Obviously. It’s a rabbit tapestry!)

But the star of the House of Illustration’s show is the Quentin Blake exhibition. Not only is it this museum’s first permanent exhibition, but the exhibition itself is the first open space dedicated to this icon of illustration. 

Anyone who grew up on a wholesome diet of Roald Dahl also grew up on the illustrations of Quentin Blake, the man who brought the likes of The Twits and The BFG to life. If you’re in or travelling to London, it’s a must. It’s a very small exhibition and can be walked through in about twenty minutes (and I was trying to go slowly), but it’s really lovely. My favourites were the illustrations going through their development phases – it reminded me of Quentin Blake’s Desert Island Disc, where he discusses the length of time spent deliberating whether the BFG should wear boots!

London’s full of literary experience like this, so keep your eyes peeled on the blog – I’ll be sharing them all!

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