Quentin Blake: Illustrating Verse exhibition on UK tour

The Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, the UK’s first and only charity for illustration, is touring an exhibition of Quentin Blake‘s original illustrations around Britain during 2023, and into next year, with more venues being sought.

The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Quentin Blake
“The choice of moments, and a sense of discretion about what to draw and what not to draw, is particularly important in the business of illustrating poetry.” – Quentin Blake

Artist, author and illustrator Quentin Blake should be a familiar name to most downthetubes readers. He had his first illustration published in Punch magazine in 1949, when he was still at school. Since then, he has written and/or illustrated more than 500 books, been a teacher of illustrators and created murals for hospitals, galleries and community spaces. He still draws every day and he is currently working on a new exhibition of large-scale portraits.

Quentin is the founder of the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, previously known as House of Illustration, and the organisation works closely with him to share material from his 40,000 work archive at museums and galleries across the UK.

Their future Centre at New River Head in Clerkenwell, London, on course to open in 2025, will become the home of the archive and a place where people of all ages can come to enjoy it.

In the absence of a current main venue to exhibit the work held by the Centre, the organisation continues to delight illustration fans with touring exhibitions of work carefully selected from their archive, including The BFG in Pictures, currently running at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, and Raymond Briggs: A Retrospective, running at Cambridge University Library from the end of April; and Quentin Blake: Illustrating Verse, which is now exhibiting at Weston Museum, Weston-super-Mare.

Art by Quentin Blake

As well as artwork for popular nursery rhymes like “The Owl and the Pussycat”, the Quentin Blake: Illustrating Verse exhibition features previously unseen works from Blake’s archive – surreal illustrations for Sylvia Plath’s The Bed Book and mischievous cats for T. S. Elliot’s The Song of the Jellicles.

  • Art by Quentin Blake
  • Art by Quentin Blake
  • Art by Quentin Blake
  • Art by Quentin Blake
  • Art by Quentin Blake

Sketchbooks and rough drawings give a rare insight into Blake’s writing and design process, as well as the creation of characters for Roald Dahl’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration is the new name for House of Illustration, the UK’s only charity for illustration – the art we experience in our everyday lives. Its exhibitions and projects celebrate illustration, support illustrators and empower people of all ages to tell their stories. The charity is restoring an industrial heritage site in London to create the national centre for illustration.

More information here on the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration web site

Hire this exhibition for your museum or gallery


• Until 4th June 2023: Weston Museum, Burlington Street, Weston-super-Mare BS23 1PR | Free entry | Web: westonmuseum.org

• 8th July to 17th September 2023: Aberdeen Art Gallery, Schoolhill
Aberdeen AB10 1FQ | Official Web Site

• 23rd September 2023 to 3rd January 2024: Lighthouse, Poole Centre for the Arts, 21 Kingland Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 1UG| Web: lighthousepoole.co.uk

More information here on the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration web site

Hire this exhibition for your museum or gallery

• The Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration plan to open their Clerkenwell site in 2025. You can join their mailing list to receive updates on our progress. You can also get involved by supporting the project

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

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