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Foundling Museum Opens Quentin Blake. As large as life

The Foundling Museum in London presents Quentin Blake. As large as life an exhibition on view 12 January 2012 – 15 April 2012.

Quentin Blake is one of Britain’s best-loved and most successful illustrators. Well known for illustrating stories by Roald Dahl, Blake was Britain’s first Children’s Laureate. Quentin Blake – As large as life presents recent work created for four hospitals in the UK and France and designed to have a therapeutic effect on their residents.

Image from the series’ Planet Zog, Ordinary Life and Mothers and Babies Underwater © Quentin Blake

This exhibition of over sixty works, draws from four series’ that were created for a children’s hospital, a maternity hospital, young people with eating disorders and older patients with mental health issues. The subject of each illustration will allow visitors to reflect on artists’ continuing contribution to hospitals and child welfare. Hanging alongside Blake’s work will be paintings by William Hogarth and his contemporaries who donated paintings and sculptures to the Foundling Hospital in the 1740s. The Museum’s art collection, spanning more than four centuries, will provide visitors with an unexpected and resonant backdrop; one that situates Blake within a tradition of great artists creating work for hospitals.

Quentin Blake explains, “I think the very presence of pictures helps to make being in, or visiting a hospital a more normal, less alien experience. What I have tried to include is a certain amount of detail, some interesting activities, and some suggestions of the little drama of relationships, so that the viewers – especially any who have to wait – may feel the desire to go on looking and perhaps even to speculate about the stories happening in front of them.”

Foundling Museum director Caro Howell comments, “Quentin Blake’s vision of the world has accompanied generations from infancy to adulthood, so much so that he is part of our cultural DNA. This exhibition demonstrates his unique gift for combining humour, compassion, observation and the imaginary. In showing these four life-affirming series at the Foundling Museum, Blake’s work is linked to a tradition over 270 years old, established by William Hogarth, of artists making work for hospital settings to improve the lives of children.”

Visitors will discover senior circus characters juggling and tightrope walking; alien creatures from Planet Zog swapping doctor and patient roles with young people; young people engaging in activities that celebrate the quiet poetry and pleasures of everyday life and mothers and babies meeting for the first time underwater, in a parallel world where their swimming expresses and celebrates their new-found liberty after the pains of labour.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of diverse and exciting events, including family activities, talks and a reading corner decorated with Blake’s recent designs for wallpapers produced by Osborne & Little.

The exhibition at the Foundling Museum is organised in collaboration with the House of Illustration and Compton Verney.

The exhibition has been made possible through the support of those who took part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge, the patrons of Mr Handel’s Charitable Works Concert, with additional support from Artfinder and Osborne & Little. –

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