Lauren Child The Art of Illustration

Lauren Child: The Art of Illustration
2 May to 8 September

Step inside the joyfully eclectic world of Lauren Child MBE, award-winning author, illustrator and Waterstones Children’s Laureate (2017-2019) at the Holburne Museum.

Best loved for her fictional characters Clarice Bean, Hubert Horatio, and Charlie and Lola, Lauren Child’s vibrant collage illustrations and witty narratives have charmed and amused children and adults alike for nearly twenty years. Her stories can be found on bookshelves worldwide: they have sold over three million copies globally; been translated into nineteen languages; and won the prestigious Kate Greenaway medal and the Nestlé Gold Smarties Award.

This exhibition, and accompanying family trail, celebrates the art of Child’s illustration, featuring works from her original stories as well as her re-workings of her favourite children’s classics and fairy tales, including The Princess and the Pea, Pippi Longstocking, Mary Poppins and The Secret Garden. It traces Child’s creative influences and processes, from her nostalgic love of doll’s houses and the miniature and magical spaces contained within them, to her early passion for patterned textiles, interior design, American films and comic strips.

Known for her vibrant application of colour and pattern, and her expressive, line-drawn characters, Child’s work references a quasi-encyclopaedic knowledge of interior design (ranging from mid-century aesthetics to Georgian and Baroque decadence), as well as a keen eye for dense, colourful and intimate compositions. Her quick dialogues and distinctive drawing style parallel, and pay homage to the energetic, and often subversive, black-and-white illustrations of Quentin Blake, Edward Gorey and Ronald Searle.

Lauren Child’s illustrations and stories are far-ranging in subject matter, yet all bear the distinctive mark of her collaged aesthetic, florid patterning, and characterful draughtsmanship. From curious children and princesses in paper dresses to wolves wearing eye-patches and child geniuses despairing of their hapless millionaire parents; Lauren Child’s illustrations, like her narratives, are at once gloriously eclectic and masterfully composed.

Chris Stephens, Holburne Director notes, ‘As a fairly new parent, my world changed when a friend introduced me and my daughter to the world of Lauren Child. From Charlie & Lola, through Clarice Bean to the reworking of classics like Pippy Longstocking and, especially, The Princess and the Pea, she was a constant companion. Running through all her work is a distinctive, contemporary tone of voice and a rich and humorous visual vocabulary of free-form text, colour and pattern. As such, it is clear to all what a sophisticated artist she is.’

Families can enjoy a special family trail around the Holburne Museum and its garden, and the city of Bath. Drawing links between the artefacts in the Holburne’s collection, with those depicted in Child’s works, families can go in search of Charlie and Lola and friends, and discover objects, animals and characters in unusual and surprising places.

Bethany Pleydell, the show’s curator said, ‘We often describe the Holburne as being a museum of tiny treasures, so it feels very fitting to show Child’s dolls’ house, and her gorgeous illustrations of sumptuous and characterful interiors, alongside our own permanent collection. When designing the exhibition and family trail, we were inspired by Child’s character Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent who opens his house up as a museum of trinkets. We hope our visitors will experience the same excitement at discovering Lauren Child’s illustrations dotted around the Holburne as they do turning the pages of her books. This exhibition will deliver a strong dose of nostalgia too for adults who grew up on the headstrong Mary Poppins, Pippi Longstocking and Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden, and for fans of the wickedly subversive and witty illustrations of Quentin Blake and Ronald Searle, creator of the St Trinian’s comic series.’

The Holburne Museum’s mission statement is ‘Changing Lives through Art’, signalling its commitment to opening up the enjoyment of art to people of all ages and from every walk of life. The Holburne was founded in 1882 with the gift of Sir William Holburne’s collection of 16th and 17th century Italian and Dutch paintings, silver, sculpture, furniture, porcelain and diverse objets d’art of national and international significance. That founding gift has been augmented with a collection of 18th century paintings by such artists as Gainsborough, Lawrence, Ramsay, Stubbs and Zoffany. Set within the historic Sydney Pleasure Gardens, the Museum reopened in May 2011 after ambitious renovations and with a new, award-winning extension by Eric Parry Architects. The Holburne has since secured a national reputation as an outstanding museum which holds critically acclaimed exhibitions. Its programme of exhibitions, commissions and events sets out to bring to Bath great art of all periods and from around the world, seeking to set the art of the past in dialogue with contemporary practice in exciting and dynamic new ways. Admission to the Holburne £12 (includes £1.50 Gift Aid donation) / £7 (includes a £1.50 donation). Kids go FREE. Open 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, 11am to 5pm Sunday and Bank Holidays

Katie Jenkins, the Holburne Museum