An exhibition of much-loved children’s author and illustrator Quentin Blake opens today at London’s Foundling Museum
Quentin Blake is the nation's - if not the world's - favourite author. Crowned the first ever Children’s Laureate in 1999, he has been in the business for more than 60 years – he was 16 when his first illustration appeared in Punch magazine.
A bibliography of Blake’s work on his website lists 321 books he has illustrated, or written, or both. The list ends in 2006, meaning it might well have come up short – one of Blake’s most recent illustrations was TV star David Walliams’s debut children’s book Gangsta Granny. Interviewers have described how Blake likes to do his work standing up drawing over a lightbox, using old-fashioned dip pens.
Best known for illustrating Roald Dahl’s children’s classics (of which, somewhat surprisingly, there are only 19), Blake turns 80 this year, and now spends some of his illustrating hours in his large Kensington studio drawing for hospitals and children’s wards to perk up the patients.
The London exhibition of more than 60 of his works focuses on the art Blake has produced for hospital wards in the UK and France, for a children’s hospital, a maternity hospital, an eating disorder clinic and an elderly mental health ward. The biggest of the hospital projects, Mothers and Babies Underwater (pictured), was created for a maternity ward in Angers, France.
“I think the very presence of pictures helps to make being in, or visiting a hospital a more normal, less alien experience,” Blake says.
Quentin Blake: As Large as Life will run until 15 April.