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Friday 18th December 2003

The Art Of Illustration

The man who illustrated the stories of Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake, is marking 50 years in the industry and pondering the future of the profession.

A retrospective of his work has opened at Somerset House in central London, which he hopes will not only provide an accurate snapshot of his diverse work over the past five decades, but also inspire a permanent gallery that would allow up-and-coming artists an opportunity to fulfil their potential.

"Once I was given the idea, I thought 'we could use this archive which we have, of pretty much all of my originals, as a kind of foundation stone for it'", he told Sarah.

"I think its active life would be to provide a space for young illustrators and also for the history of illustration. There's an awful lot to be said there and an awful lot people don't know about." In short, Mr Blake told us, he believes illustration as a form of art has been undervalued over the years.

But selecting which of his pieces would and would not make the cut for the exhibition wasn't an easy task. "It's extremely difficult, because what we're talking about is perhaps 200 pieces of work from, I don't know how many there are, six thousand ... something like that. I wanted to represent different aspects of what I've done".

His first published drawings could be seen in Punch, submitted to the publication whilst he was still in school.

"I used to send little packets of drawings into Punch about every month," 71-year-old Blake recalls. "They sent an awful lot back. I had a fine collection of rejection slips which said 'sorry, not quite'".

Visit Quentin Blake's homepage, or click here to find out more about the exhibition.

Click on the PICTURE GALLERY link in the right-hand column of this page to see more of his original work.

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