It is the variety of styles and techniques in the work on display that really makes this show special though. Katie Viggers's printmaking, Kazuno Kahora's bold, limited colours, Jez Alboroughs's soft paintings, Shirley Hughes's blend of sketchy line and colour - there is just so much to see. The choice of illustrators is really interesting too, from old-hands like Shirley, and of course our ex-laureate Anthony Browne, through to exciting, relative new-comers, like Joe Berger, Viviane Schwarz and Chris Haughton, amongst many others.
It is hung in an interesting way too, really pointing up the breadth of approach that's possible in children's publishing. My An Itch to Scratch gorilla piece in pastels...
...sits next to similar, but very different, pieces by Anthony Browne and Katie Viggers:
There are also cases with sketchbooks and work in progress, which really helps to get across how different illustrators set about the task of tackling a children's book. This is my case, giving some background to Stinky!, as well as displaying some general sketchbooks:
Which left me just 30 minutes to scoff some of the delicious buffet lunch the gallery had laid on, before I was back in the saddle, doing a storytelling. That too went really well. The gallery has a nice, comfy sofa in one corner, and they set out a storytelling mat and flipchart for the occasion (although I gave up trying to explain to one 3 year old that they needed to sit on the mat facing me, not their mum!).
I meant to nip from my storytelling straight to Katie Viggers's afternoon monoprinting workshop, but again, there was so much signing, 'thank you's and general saying hello to do, I didn't get away for another hour, so the workshop was more or less over by the time I arrived. I'm not complaining - it's great to be signing lots of books and I still got about 20 minutes playing time, rolling out ink and making a right mess, but didn't produce anything worth bringing home. Did a few decent train portraits on the way home though, so that's ok.
Picture This! is on until Sunday March 11th - do catch it of you can.