Monday, 5 December 2011

Collecting: Illustration art heads for the big time.

Once upon a time, an attractive investment opportunity arrived

Grown-ups are rediscovering a love for children's book illustrations

Kate Youde Sunday 04 December 2011

From the Gruffalo to the Grinch and Winnie the Pooh to the Wild Things: these are the creatures that stalk childhood imaginations. But now grown-ups are taking a keen interest in these literary beasts – and it isn't just nostalgia.Galleries report that original book illustrations are being seen as a good investment as well as something familiar to hang on the walls.Buyers have realised that illustrations by well-known artists are relatively affordable with prices in the low hundreds of pounds. Now demand is pushing up costs, with some illustrators' work trebling in value over the past five years.

The Illustration Cupboard, a London gallery specialising in such works, says turnover has leapt 90 per cent in three years. Its founder John Huddy described it as an "encouraging, exciting time". The gallery recently sold an E H Shepard illustration for a 1931 version of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows for £50,000. Other works by best-selling illustrators – including the Alfie author, Shirley Hughes, and David McKee, who created Mr Benn and Elmer the patchwork elephant – have trebled in value. Luke Heron, director of the art fund StoryBoard Assets, which invests in book illustrations, said that people tend to invest in physical assets at times of economic uncertainty. At some point, he predicts, illustrations will sell for "silly prices".Auction houses are taking note. On Tuesday, Christie's will sell both newer and rare collections, including an illustration for the 1983 edition of Wind in the Willows by Harry Hargreaves, while Sotheby's has more than 20 lots of illustrations later this month, including work by Shepard, Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac.

Quentin Blake, renowned for his close collaboration with Roald Dahl, admitted there was more interest in illustration, adding that it was an "everyday language" people had rather taken for granted. He claimed there had been a degree of "intellectual snobbery" in the past, with people sometimes ashamed that illustration was done to commission for money.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Winter Illustration Festival 2011

Mince Pies and Mayhem: Many thanks to all who came along on Saturday to our 'Winter Illustration Festival'. A packed event was full of excitement as the queue for signing books ran across the top floor down the stairs and to the door. Relaxing classical guitar courtesy of George added a calming element to the family frenzy as mince pies and other seasonal delicies rotated.

Our thanks to Andersen Press for supplying us with Elmer goodies to entertain in the children's corner which was a huge success! The colouring in Elmers have certainly re-assured us that there are plenty of budding illustrators to come.
Congratulations to Bethan from Cambridge too, who was the lucky winner of our raffle for Amnesty International, and gets a publisher's signed proof of a page from Shirley Hughes's 'Christmas Eve Ghost'. Can't wait for next year ...

Friday, 14 October 2011

Happy Birthday to Robert Ingpen!

Happy 75th Birthday to Robert Ingpen.

Congratulations to Robert Ingpen on reaching a milestone birthday, and all of us here at the gallery would like to be amongst the first to wish him another very happy 75 years. A native Australian Robert has become one of the world's most respected living book illustrators, and it has been a delight, pleasure and honour to work with him these years exhibiting his truly breathtaking artwork here in London.

Favourites of ours include the Jungle Book, Peter Pan as well as the wonderful Christmas Carol which was the focus of a single artist exhibition in the autumn of 2009. An illustrator not only loved by his public but greatly revered by his peers, Robert is one of those artists who has championed the skill, talent and exquisite technical ability of classical drawing to bring the Fine Art of of illustration in to the 21st century healthy, robust and strong. The amber nectar awaits!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Update:Edward Ardizzone - Huckleberry Finn.
Following the success of our spring exhibition of the superb illustrations by Edward Ardizzone for the 1961 publication of Huckleberry Finn, we are delighted to announce the successful purchase of this collection by a leading US collector.

The suite of pristine black ink drawings, which had resided in the study of former chairman of Heinemann Educational publisher Tony Beal, had recently resurfaced and was offered by his family in the hope of keeping this superb suite of drawings together. After careful negotiation the entire collection as been saved for posterity by a leading US collector whose passion is nineteenth century American literature, of which Mark Twain is of core interest. Although a private collection it is closely associated with Cornell University and much of the work in it is available for study and presentation. Not only will the artwork be cared for in the appropriate manner but will be made accessible to all those intersted in Mark Twain and the artwork of the superb British artist. We are delighted at Illustrationcupboard have been instrumental in this negotiation and in finding a first class home for such a rarity of British illustration artwork and publishing history.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Congratulations Julia Donaldson

Congratulations to Julia Donaldson who has inherited the title of Children's Laureate from Anthony Browne and taken on the mantle of this prestigious accolade. In his farewell speech Tony Browne gave an engaging account of his time, and the many events and travels that he undertook during his two years. We are sad to see him relinquish the title, but have much enjoyed adding our own contribution to his laureateship with events, book launches and exhibitions here at the gallery.

We look forward to the next two years with the effervescent Julia Donaldson, who will bring an equal share of enthusiasm, energy and committment to her stewardship. It is excellent news that we have two laureates in a row that are so closely connected to picture books and we wish Julia every success in the time ahead.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Edward Ardizzone - Huckleberry Finn and other work

It is with great pleasure that we present our Spring exhibition featuring the work of the great artist and illustrator Edward Ardizzone.

In a somewhat unique exhibition we show the entire suite of drawing for Huckleberry Finn by Tom Sawyer, published by Heinemann Educational Books in 1961. These classic black ink drawings show Ardizzone working at his est, and the entire suite represents a formidable collection and a rare opportunity for any serious collector or institution to acquire.

Read more bout the amazing story behind this collection in The Guardian at

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Booktrust Ten Best New Illustrators Award

We were delighted to host a reception for the Booktrust Ten Best New Illustrators Award which was announced on Tuesday evening, and offer a hearty congratulations to the winners.

There was a packed house of the great and the good from the publishing world here at the gallery to witness the announcement, and applaud as awards were distributed to the winners. Anthony Browne, current Children's Laureate, spoke inspiringly about the good work that Booktrust performs for the promotion of reading and literature, and Lauren Child followed up by congratulating the winners and reminding us all that this final selection by no means excluded the hundred or so other writers and artists who had entered this competition and that in this game there are no losers.

The party ran late in to the evening with lavish hospitality from Booktrust adding to the warmth of a lovely sunny spring night as guests spilled out on to the street in a carnival-like atmosphere of celebration. Further details can be found on Booktrust website as follows:

Friday, 25 February 2011

Toucan and Friends - Romi Behrens

The first quarter of the year is always an interesting time for us here at the gallery as we move from the old and in to the new. As well as our annual spring cleaning, it is a time to host different events, exhibitions and show work of a different nature. As such we are delighted to present the oils paintings by Romi Behrens.

Inspired by her native coastal Cornwall Romi has for five decades been at the heart of the contemporary Cornish school. Inspired by the traditions of Park, Wood, the Nicholsons, Hilton, Lanyon and a close friend of the late Patrick Heron Romi's work reflects the depth and warmth of this rich British cultural heritage. Basing this suite of paintings around an antique South American totem that has been a lucky charm in her studio for many years these pictures have all the colour and brightness welcome during the final days of winter.

Best known for her portraits the collection also includes a number of smaller sketches for which she is so well known and for which she was recently the subject of a single artist retrospective at the Royal Cornwall Museum. Selected by Country Life magazine as one of the exhibitions to see this month we are anticipating the blast of the horn and the cry of the hunt to resound along Bury St. at any time ...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Shaun Tan at The Oscars

The 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony approaches and a hearty congratulations to Shaun Tan who with Andrew Ruhemann has been nominated for Best Short Film (Animated) for The Lost Thing.

As well as being one of the most charming people to have crossed the threshold of the gallery Shaun is also an exciting and innovative artistic talent, whose careers moves from strength to strength. With a truly international following this nomination for an Oscar is a testament to his artistic vision and we will be supporting wholeheartedly on Sunday night for victory.
We are delighted that Shaun will be back with us at the gallery this August and look forward to hosting an event and exhibition of his work and the new book, The Bird King, published by Templar this April. Shaun will be at the gallery to sign books, the date is to be confirmed. Watch this space.

Shaun is pictured here, at his previous event at Illustrationcupboard, chatting with Shirley Hughes.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Falmouth Illustration Retrospective

The beginning of the new year always sees us hosting a guest exhibition here at the gallery, and this February was no exception. Welcoming Falmouth Illustration we were delighted to host the alumni of this esteemed and greatly respected degree course. Curated by Alan Male, resident professor of illustration, the exhibition hosted an array of past BA students, all now leading fruitful and successful careers within this field. A buzzing evening reception saw old friends and new reunited, and highlighted above all the the enduring success and popularity of this degree course which has set on the road many bright and sharp-eyed talents. We wish Alan and his colleagues further victories at Falmouth and look forward to another visit from them in the near future.