Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Meet the Team!

Here at the Illustrationcupboard gallery we have a small but perfectly formed team working every day behind the scenes. You may have met some of us before at an exhibition or event, or perhaps spoken to us on the phone. Maybe you've even joined us for a cup of tea and a slice of cake on a Friday! Here we'd like to introduce you to our gallery family and tell you a little bit about why the Illustrationcupboard is such a special place to work!

Meet John
Managing Partner

"I started Illustrationcupboard in the spare bedroom of my sister’s flat in 1995 with only a desk and a telephone,  when there was little interest in collecting contemporary book illustration artwork. Over twenty years on I am pleased to regularly show the finest artwork in this field to a broad international collecting audience from our three floor art gallery in St James's, Mayfair. I often think how lucky I am to have the opportunity to see this original work when so many thousands of others see only the printed page."

Meet Jessica
Framing and Curation

What do you do at Illustrationcupboard?
I keep track of the artwork, mount, frame and hang all of the exhibitions. 

Which illustrator’s work would you love to own?
Neil Packer’s 'Look at your room Nausicaa!' published in The Odyssey

What do you love most about your job?
Getting to work so closely with such incredible artists.

Favourite Illustrationcupboard moment?
One of many – Babette Cole prancing round the gallery with bunny ears for James and the Giggleberries and Babette dressed up as Princess Smartypants for the celebration of 30 years of Princess Smartypants in September 2016.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Not Now Bernard’ by David McKee

Meet Daphne
Deputy Gallery Manager

What do you do at Illustrationcupboard?

Which illustrator’s work would you love to own?
Either something by John Vernon Lord or Angela Barrett.

What do you love most about your job?
I love getting to see all of the different artwork and having contact with so many artists. Everyone here is really friendly - even the postman!

Favourite Illustrationcupboard moment?
Having lunch with Jan Pienkowski at his house and looking through all his artwork - it was like an art museum! One of the great benefits of this job is occasionally getting to meet great artists in their studios and homes, it's not a chance most people would ever have so I really appreciate it.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Red Rose, White Rose illustrated by Gustav Tenggren.

Meet Molly

What do you do at Illustrationcupboard?
I help people to discover the gallery and spread the word about our upcoming exhibitions.

Which illustrator’s work would you love to own?
Definitely something by Shaun Tan. His work is completely breathtaking, it stops me in my tracks every time I walk past it. 

What do you love most about your job?
Getting to meet some of the most talented artists working today and seeing the original illustrations that I grew up with as a child.

Favourite Illustrationcupboard moment?
Having tea and biscuits with the amazing David McKee whilst looking through his original paintings of Elmer the elephant!

What was your favourite book as a child?
Would have to be either The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr or Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Meet Anne
Sales and Events

What do you do at Illustrationcupboard?
I run the gallery on Saturdays and help out with private views.

Which illustrator’s work would you love to own?
I would love to own an original Brian Wildsmith, as I think his colours are just fantastic. I love the detail in his pictures that you can only see close-up in the flesh, which don't always come across when you see the images in his books.

What do you love most about your job?
I love that no two Saturdays are the same - sometimes it is quiet so I get on with updating our contact database, and then other times it can be very loud with lots of families getting excited about artwork that they have seen in books they read growing up.  

Favourite Illustrationcupboard moment?
This is a difficult one - there have been so many!  Getting to meet the artists is always a wonderful experience.  It was always a pleasure to host an event for Babette Cole, who was a ball of fun, and a huge personality.  Meeting Shaun Tan was also pretty fantastic, as he doesn't come over to the UK very often, but I love all of the artists that we get to work with; they are all so talented!

What was your favourite book as a child?
Each Peach Pear Plum, written by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Janet Ahlberg.  Apparently, when I was very small, my mother took me to the local library where they were having a book reading, and I stood up and recited the whole thing!  I even had a dolly called Baby Bunting.

Meet Jenny

What do you do at Illustrationcupboard?
I'm the admin assistant at the gallery.

Which illustrator’s work would you love to own?
I would love to own a Brian Wildsmith

What do you love most about your job?
I love working so closely with all this art – being able to have a wander round the gallery and have a good, long look whenever it’s quiet. I also love finding hidden gems down in the basement archives that we’d forgotten about!

Favourite Illustrationcupboard moment?
I really enjoy meeting the illustrators, they are always so lovely!

What was your favourite book as a child?
I was a big fan of Peace At Last by Jill Murphy.

Meet Stella

What do you do at Illustrationcupboard?
I make sure John stays in line! ... and I keep the books.

Which illustrator’s work would you love to own?
I'd love to own something by either John Vernon Lord or Shaun Tan.

What do you love most about your job?
Working with such nice people.

Favourite Illustrationcupboard moment?
Having dinner with Shaun Tan when he came over from Australia.

What was your favourite book as a child?
It's hard to pick a favourite from my childhood, but my favourite to read to my child now would have to be either Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak or Room on a Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

We love nothing more than meeting visitors and chatting about the wonderful illustrators we work with, so please come and say hello next time you're in the gallery. If you have any questions about any of the artwork we're always happy to help. We look forward to seeing you soon! 

Discover more at www.illustrationcupboard.com
Get in touch at gallery@illustrationcupboard.com
Drop us a line at 0207 976 1727

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The story behind the Storyteller Chair

Ahead of the opening of our Brambly Hedge exhibition this spring, we caught up with Jacqui Lyons, Partner of both Illustrationcupboard and RhubarbLondon, to find out the story behind the unique Brambly Hedge Storyteller Chair. Full of magical secrets and surprises, the chair will be on show for the first time at the launch of the Brambly Hedge exhibition opening on 10th May. In this exclusive blog post Jacqui tells us how Illustrationcupboard first began, about her involvement in the company and how collaboration and creativity led to one of the most unique chairs you will ever see.

Words by Jacqui Lyons:

In November, 1995, when I first met John Huddy, founder of the Illustrationcupboard gallery, he was holding an exhibition in a small gallery in Connaught Village, London. I was on my way to my local coffee shop, when I spotted a wonderful illustration by Graham Oakley in the window of what I thought was an abstract art gallery.  Curious, I went in and spoke to John, who explained that he was renting the gallery for two weeks.  I asked about the Graham Oakley piece which was from The Church Mice, and bought it for a client of mine.  When I called in the next day to pay for it, I took a closer look at all the wonderful illustrations John was selling, which immediately impressed me.  I also believed that there was a synergy between John’s Illustration Cupboard and my company, Marjacq Scripts Ltd, a successful literary agency I had founded with my late business partner, George Markstein in 1983, so I suggested that John and I formed Illustration Cupboard LLP, which led to the gallery in Bury Street. 

Illustration from the Church Mice Take a Break by Graham Oakley

I was right about the synergy: the Graham Oakley illustration I had bought which I gave to my client was a picture from his most favourite childhood book and he was absolutely thrilled.  Marjacq Scripts then went on to represent Graham Oakley and negotiated the re-publication of three of his famous Church Mice books.

Something similar happened to me in July, 2015 when I noticed the most unusual and, to me, surrealistic chair in the window of a shop in Central London.  I was immediately arrested by the chair because, although it was a typical small Victorian chair, it was upholstered in a tweed jacket, complete with leather elbow patches and pheasant feathers.  It was a piece of art or a character, rather than just a chair.  Once again, I was fascinated - I wanted to know more.

After weeks of research, I eventually tracked down Shaun Brownell, the creator of the chair and bought it.  When Shaun came to deliver the chair, I discovered that he had a website which was selling the chairs.  Personally, I felt that they demanded a wider audience – they were so unusual and so very beautifully made.  So, I suggested that Shaun and I form a new partnership to promote and market his wonderful pieces, which we called RhubarbLondon

Last year, John mentioned to me that he would be holding a major Brambly Hedge exhibition at the Illustrationcupboard gallery in the spring and showed me some of the Brambly Hedge books. I felt that the delightful illustrations would make a wonderful fabric for a very special chair – The Brambly Hedge Storyteller Chair.  Liz Barklem (Jill Barklem's daughter) kindly gave permission for this concept to be realised and it will be seen for the first time at Illustrationcupboard’s Brambly Hedge exhibition launch in May.

This magical Brambly Hedge Storyteller children’s chair is a handmade two-thirds sized version of an adult wing chair.   Whilst sitting in the chair, the child can either read, play or listen to the Brambly Hedge Audio CD via the self-contained, remotely controlled portable sound system through the stereo speakers colour coded and fitted to the back of the chair. 

The front arms and legs of the chair have been intricately hand carved from ancient oak to create the mystical tree trunk world of Brambly Hedge with subtle illumination glowing through the delicate windows and front door.  Aged Chestnut legs support the rear of the piece. Lovingly upholstered in the traditional Brambly Hedge Field specially printed fabric and accentuated with nut brown leather piped detail.

The chair is operated by a fully rechargeable 12v battery supply capable of powering the chair for at least 90 minutes on full charge.  The CD player, charging socket and On/Off switch are all neatly concealed behind a flap to side of the chair.

The Brambly Hedge Storyteller chair is the realisation of my enthusiasm and commitment to being a partner of Illustrationcupboard and RhubarbLondon.  If ever there was a synergy between two businesses, then this is the result. 

The Brambly Hedge exhibition opens at the Illustrationcupboard Gallery on 10th May and runs until 3rd June. This major solo exhibition will showcase a collection of Jill Barklem’s original artwork from the much-loved Brambly Hedge books that has never before been exhibited in the UK or made available for sale. Find out more at www.illustrationcupboard.com 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Investing in illustration: Interview with John Huddy

Here at the Illustrationcupboard gallery we often get asked whether buying original illustration artwork really is a good investment. So we sat down over a cup of tea with John Huddy, Founder and Managing Partner of the gallery, to discuss the illustration market and discover his top tips on how and what to buy in 2017...

Why is the contemporary illustration market so unique?

The market for illustration goes back a long way, but it’s mostly been for historical illustration. The market for modern and contemporary illustration however is one that this gallery has created. When I started Illustrationcupboard 20 years ago nobody else was doing what I was doing. In fact there weren’t any other contemporary illustration galleries at all or any dealerships in Britain.  

To define and develop a new area of collecting or buying in any industry is incredibly rare and doesn’t happen very often, so this really is an opportunity. There are collectors who come to the gallery and consistently buy a lot of work because they realise the unique opportunity they have to buy artwork at entry level. This is work that’s coming directly out of artists’ studios for the first time ever. It’s not a secondary market, it’s a primary market, and to have the opportunity to create a primary market is a very unique position to be in. 

In time, these illustrators’ work will move into the secondary market. It’s happening already with artists such as David McKee, Shirley Hughes and Angela Barrett; their work is already starting to go through Sotheby’s and Christies and other auction houses. The secondary market will then inevitably develop, there’s no question about that, and then one day there will be a secondary market and no longer a primary market. That’s when you’re into the established art world, like everything else. 

There is a short window of opportunity for collectors, and that is what I find so interesting about this market. In 50 years, I know some of these terrific artists will be seen in the same way that we now look at illustrators from the 1920s. Their works will become classics and I think the prices will reflect that.

What advice would you give to someone buying their first piece of illustration artwork?

Buying is the same, whatever you’re buying. Your instinct is usually correct and your first impressions are usually right. Buy from the heart, buy from the gut and buy what you like. People often ask me, “What do you think about this piece?” and I always tell them the same thing: “If you like it, chances are that there are an awful lot of other people out there who are going to like it too.” And that’s generally true, so you’ve got to follow your instincts. 

What about buying an illustration as a gift?

The best gifts to give people are the ones that you really like yourself. People will appreciate a gift, however small it is, that has been given with consideration, with thought and some passion. People can always see that, I think. A lot of purchases are driven by nostalgia as people want to buy things they grew up with or pieces they know their children will enjoy.  I envy these children. It's such a special thing, to own an original from a book you love, something you will always have and can pass on to your own children.

Top five illustrators to invest in this year?
Alexis Deacon
David McKee
Shirley Hughes
Angela Barrett
George Butler

To discuss purchasing an original illustration or to talk about your collection, call the gallery for a chat on 0207 976 1727 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

You can browse our collection online at www.illustrationcupboard.com or visit us at the gallery at 22 Bury St, St James’s, London, SW1Y 6AL, open 9:30am – 6pm Mon-Fri, 11am – 5pm Saturdays.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Meet Ingram Pinn, Political Cartoonist for the Financial Times

This month we are excited to launch a major solo exhibition of political cartoons by Ingram Pinn, illustrator for the Financial Times. Since 1987 Pinn has produced his own comment each weekend for the FT and illustrated further articles throughout the week. Ahead of the exhibition, we caught up with Ingram about his recent body of work which draws upon key moments from 2016’s turbulent political landscape... 

Words by Ingram Pinn:

"2016 has been a tumultuous political year, and 2017 looks like being even more disturbing. With Brexit throwing the UK political establishment into turmoil and the election of Donald Trump turning US policy on its head by tweet, politics has certainly become less predictable. All this of course provides endless fruit for a political cartoonist to pick at, as every day one absurdity overturns another. Sadly for the world, the worse things get the more there is to make fun of, although these surreal times often seem beyond satire.

Early in the year talk at the World economic forum in Davos was of artificial intelligence and robots taking our jobs, but more immediate concerns soon grabbed our attention. A surprise (for pollsters) vote for Brexit was followed by the farce of Cameron’s resignation and Gove stabbing doubles partner (it was Wimbledon time) Boris in the back. Those who voted to leave found that like a collapsing line of dominoes their vote ended with Theresa May, who supported the remain side, as our new prime minister. With the motto ‘Brexit means Brexit’ meaning nothing and challenges in court I drew Theresa May perched on a Brexit rocket (it was Nov 5th) while judges held the matches to light the fuse. Theresa went to Brussels to plead the UK’s position where European council President Donald Tusk said that they were not a lion’s den but a dove’s nest. I drew them as the fiercest doves you could imagine. Eventually parliament voted to launch the UK into an unknown future, like the Toy Story “to infinity and beyond”.

The war in Syria allowed Putin to expand his power stirring up trouble all over the place and spreading refugees across the world. The sad plight of refugees were a continuing topic through the year, with the EU showing no unity of purpose, batting refugees across borders like balls in a tennis match and leaving Angela Merkel to take all the flack for welcoming them to Germany

Trump trumped it all by beating all expectations and becoming the most powerful political leader in the world. His hairstyle is a gift to all cartoonists, but surprisingly difficult to make sense of, as are his constant tweets, many of which were attacking his own secret services. I drew him as the statue of liberty, smoke pouring from the torch and the constitution replaced by his book “the art of the deal”.  Warming the world both politically and environmentally.  On inauguration day Trump leads the parade, banging the world with his America First drumsticks, while Chinese president Xi Jinping looks, on acting out the role of the new face of moderation." 

Ingram Pinn, 2017

Press images and more information from Daphne Shen on 0207 976 1727 
All Artwork is for sale. Online preview available on our website 
Weekdays 9:30am - 6:00pm, Saturdays 11:00am - 5:00pm 

Opening night private view and press reception; 15th March, 5.00pm – 8.00pm 

Exhibition runs from 15 March - 8 April 2017 

Join the conversation:
Twitter: @illustrationcup 
Face book: www.facebook.com/illustrationcupboard 
YouTube: www.youtube.com/illustrationcupboard 
Instagram: @illustrationcupboard_gallery 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Long Live Princess Smartypants - Babette Cole

Babette Cole: 10 September 1950  - 14 January 2017
We were deeply saddened and shocked to hear the very sad news of Babette Cole's passing earlier this week.  We have not only lost one of our dearest artists, but more so a good and true friend.  She will be sorely missed by the illustration and publishing community alike.

Babette chats with Jan Pienkowski in 2005
In tribute to Babette, we fondly remember some of the times that we all spent in the IllustrationCupboard Gallery (mostly in floods of laughter as Babette had the most infectious giggle):

Babette and John Huddy celebrating Princess Smartypants' birthday in The IllustrationCupboard

Babette was always the life and soul of the party, throwing her energy into her artwork and giving time to the many fans of her 150+ picture books.

Babette signing books as part of our Winter Exhibition in 2010
She would always dress to impress - here seen with Sarah McIntyre and IllustrationCupboard staff all in obligatory bunny ears, for the launch of James and the Giggleberries in 2014.

Full of love and laughter, her humerous and irreverent illustrations brought a smile to readers old and young.

Valentine's Day, the Babette Cole way
Loving life in the IllustrationCupboard on Valentine's Day
Her books helped parents broach difficult subjects with humour, and challenged the status quo: a Princess who didn't like boys, and books about death, childbirth and growing up.

Babette as Princess Smartypants in September 2016

It was only in September 2016 that she was in the gallery, full of life and launching her most recent book Princess Smartypants and the Missing Princes, and celebrating 30 years of Princess Smartypants, with a fabulous cake made by Elizabeth Miles Cake Design, Dorset.

And this is how we shall remember her: for us, she will always be a Princess.  The world will be a duller place without her.  Long live Princess Smartypants.