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New - The House of Illustration and the area around Kings Cross

19 November 2014

Last Friday it was teacher training so my son was off school - hurray!

Off we went to the House of Illustration.  Opened this Summer in Kings Cross with Quentin Blake as a trustee.

At the moment there's a show of Paula Rego and Honoré Daumier.  I'm a big fan of both so was happy and my son was delighted to be out of school for the day.

Kings Cross is completely different from when I was last there, it's being completely 'regenerated' it feels like a new European city area.  I felt a bit sad for the tumbledown building on the canal but it was interesting to see it all.  Walking from Kings Cross there are loads of great billboards for the House of Illustration showing works by tons of wonderful illustrators like Emma Chichester Clark, Lauren Child, Anthony Browne, Chris Riddell, Oliver Jeffers etc, so there's a real sense of anticipation about all the brilliant things you'll get to see when you get to the museum. 

Paula Rego and Honoré Daumier was a very good show, they are both absolutely brilliant visual storytellers.  My son also watched a video about the work which he found completely baffling (they discuss Aquatint, etching and lithography with no mention of what this means or how it's done). 

We were both a bit underwhelmed by the whole experience of our visit to the House of Illustration, my son even saying it "was a day wasted".  I don't know what our expectations were really.  Seeing all the billboards on the way there I think we hoped to see a permanent collection of wonderful illustration actually, to be stimulated and excited by what we saw - so to see something beyond the exhibitions they had.  But it's actually quite a small space so there's perhaps no room to do this. We both absolutely love illustration, particularly of children's books.  Rather a shame that an art form that's so vibrant and engaging by it's nature should be presented in a rather dry, traditional and unengaging way.  It seemed a bit old-fashioned in the way that the show was designed.  Exhibition design has become very good in the last 20 years at engaging all ages but there wasn't much of that in evidence when we were there.  Perhaps you have to be in one of their specific educational programs.

We went in to the huge new University of the Arts of London building and played ping pong to cheer my boy up.



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