You may have heard that a certain Quentin Blake has a new exhibition on at London’s Foundling Museum, which opened today. Since everyone loves a piece of the Quentin pie, we thought we’d let you know that now you can take said pie home with you! The artist and author – who is most known for his instantly recognisable illustrations of Roald Dahl‘s fantastical children’s stories – has produced two very special and exclusive Limited Edition Prints for the Foundling Museum, on the occasion of its new exhibition, Quentin Blake – As large as life (12 January – 15 April 2012). This exhibition contains over 60 works that Blake created for four hospitals wards in the UK and France.
Blake was Britain’s first Children’s Laureate, and has illustrated an impressive all but one of Dahl’s books. As you may have read recently, he has just had his work honoured in a collection of Roald Dahl stamps issued by the Royal Mail. It’s fair to say that the country can’t get enough of Quentin – his illustrations belong to our collective childhood and, with their deliberately playful and sketchy style, are effortlessly energetic and humorous. No matter the subject matter Blake’s illustrations are always honest about human nature; they bring to life the characters we meet in everyday – and, not forgetting make-believe – life.
These two Limited Edition Prints are produced in editions of 250, and are signed by the artist. Priced at £250 each (unframed), they provide an exclusive chance to own a print by one of the best-known and best-loved British artists.
The first (above – buy here), is taken from a series of artworks Blake produced for the Vincent Square Eating Disorder clinic, London. Ordinary Life celebrates the quiet poetry and pleasures of everyday life. “This is the one set of pictures that is different,” notes Blake. “All the others are a kind of metaphor. In Planet Zog you are on an alien planet; being on an alien planet is like being in that alien situation in hospital, so as an illustrator you play that. These people, I thought, didn’t need that. What they wanted was something slightly scruffy, slightly ordinary…relaxing, in a sense, in ordinary human situations.” Blake’s work is remarkable because it does not preach or patronise.
The second Limited Edition Print (above – buy here) is taken from the biggest of Blake’s hospital projects, entitled Mothers and Babies Underwater, which was created for the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Angers, France. In this series mothers and babies swim together in an underwater metaphorical world, and look at each other for the first time. It’s a parallel world where their swimming expresses and celebrates their new-found liberty after the pains of labour.
In the context of the Foundling Museum – which used to be the Foundling Hospital for abandoned children – this work really resonates. Blake explains: “The wonderful thing about the Angers pictures was that they move on to a kind of celebration…The exchange of look between the mother and the child is one of the important things…Of course it is a celebration, but that fundamental relationship, when that comes into the Foundling Museum with the history of ‘foundlings’, I suppose it takes on yet another dimension.”