Quentin Blake opens House of Illustration

By Tim Masters
Arts and entertainment correspondent, BBC News

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionSir Quentin Blake had the idea for the House of Illustration more than 10 years ago

Sir Quentin Blake, best known for his illustrations in the books of Roald Dahl, has launched a unique gallery dedicated to the art form.

The House of Illustration opened to the public on Wednesday near London's King's Cross.

"Illustration has been one of the most distinctive strands in the history of British art," Sir Quentin said.

"It's one of the things that the British are good at - we don't say that often enough."

Described as the world's first public gallery and education space dedicated to illustration, the new venue will feature many forms of drawing such as political cartoons, advertisements, scientific drawings and fashion designs.

image copyrightQuentin Blake
image captionA scene from Roald Dahl's The Twits
image copyrightQuentin Blake
image captionIllustration from John Yeoman's The Wild Washerwomen

Its inaugural exhibition, Inside Stories, celebrates Quentin Blake's long career. It features drafts and original art for several books including Roald Dahl's The Twits and Danny, the Champion of the World.

"The two books are such a contrast," Sir Quentin told the BBC. "One of the things that was interesting about working with [Roald Dahl] was you never knew what the next book was going to be."

Other books featured in the show are The Boy in The Dress by David Walliams and Michael Rosen's Sad Book.

media captionSir Quentin Blake discusses the art of illustrating

Born in 1932, Sir Quentin's first drawings were published in Punch when he was 16. His first children's book was John Yeoman's A Drink of Water in 1960.

For many years he taught at the Royal College of Art, became the inaugural children's laureate in 1999 and was knighted in 2012.

Sir Quentin said he felt a "tinge of incredulity" to be standing in the new art space after years of fundraising, which included an auction of works by fellow artists at Sotheby's in 2010.

"The entrance room is a drawing of my studio, so I really do feel at home," he said.

"Illustration is around us everywhere, but what I hope is that here you will stop and think about it."

image copyrightQuentin Blake
image captionQuentin's Blake's Clown

Inside Stories is at The House of Illustration until 2 November.

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