Review: Quentin Blake ‘Inside Stories’ at the Laing Art Gallery.

Quentin Blake ‘Inside Stories’ is an exhibition curated by Amy Barker, previously shown in Cardiff it has now come to Newcastle.

You know before you even enter the gallery that this exhibition is sure to be a hit. It’s timing cannot be coincidental. Spring is right around the corner and kids are just about to be set loose for Easter break. This exhibition may be targeted at kids, but I can see this appealing to many 20 something year olds who learnt to read with characters such as Lester, The Dancing Frog, Mrs Armitage, and that is not even including the illustrations that he has done for Roald Dahl; Mathilda, The Twits or my sister’s favourite Esio Trot.

Yes, it is an exhibition about Quentin Blake and the various illustrations and drawings he created throughout career but as soon as you walk into that room it is filled with your childhood dreams. Characters and animals adorn the walls, the gallery becoming a page from one of Roald Dahl’s books.

The exhibition incorporates drawing activities for everyone to participate in, surrounded by Blake’s drawings as inspirations. However, amongst Blake’s most famous illustrations are some of his lesser known projects. I was most inspired by the full wall dedicated to ‘Sad Book’ by Michael Rosen which Blake illustrated. Rosen writes about the death of his son, sending it, unsure if it is was even worth publishing. The original email Rosen sent is displayed alongside the storyboard, an inpired way to show the development from the intial idea to the finished product. Blake captures Rosen’s words and visually translates them. The effect left me with feelings of sympathy and sadness for Rosen, an emotion that juxtaposes the style and overall feel of the exhibit. I guess that is why it is called ‘Sad Book’.

A reminder that life is short, and anyone can experience and enjoy  Quentin Blake’s drawings, and the stories he continues to bring to life or the characters to remember.

The exhibition runs from the 11th of March till the 8th of July.


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