Review Quentin Blake: Inside Stories National Museum of Wales by Helen Joy

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(4 / 5)

 

Charming.
Somehow these odd, quirky, scratchy drawings become pretty and delicate in this high, light gallery.
It’s wallpaper, says the guide, as we check out the canopy of characters clambering down the walls.
It was especially made for us. People want to buy it. They can’t.
He smoothes it along the wall, loves it.
The text, that’s vinyl lettering.
It’s honest, candid, an extension of the drawings, tucked under the pictures, telling us something about the artist as much as his work and in his hand.
I hear children: ooh, it’s Matilda… Mummy, look, it’s Matilda.
I see Michael Rosen’s heart on the walls at the far end. Blake chooses his pens and brushes as carefully as Rosen chose his words to describe his grief. Beautiful.
The guide loves this exhibition. He loves this Museum. We talk about the need to attract children to keep the funding. Museum having to morph from repository and display to school and play.
There is a low table with low stools. All bright colours and soft plastics. Books and pencils, bits of paper.
Here, which one to do you want to do?
This one, Mummy. Mrs Twit. I’m not very good. I can’t draw.
How sick am I of hearing this cri de couer. Who tells a child they can’t draw? Who?
So, we all sit down and pick up the colour pencils and the paper and we draw. The adults copy Blake. The children copy the adults. I just draw chickens.
How do we hang them on the wall?
Just clip them in front of the other pictures.
But I don’t want to hide any?
They’ll all be cleared away weekly.
Oh. Some of these are wonderful.
The guide lights up: yes, look at these – talented.
They all are.
Blake would want them all on display. He is happy to share his warts n all, so should we be happy to show off all our talents. Art is feeling, is communication – no right or wrong.
I get that the Museum needs income, I get that it should attract children for many good reasons but let the adults in too.
This exhibition is a truly refreshing expression of human frailties and our spirit, our humour, our ability to find laughter and hope everywhere. Blake shows us through caricature and exaggeration what it is to be a child, an adult, a human being, a creature of this world. It is humanity in ink. Deceptively simple.
As my Father always said, it takes genius to simplify, to explain. Blake does this perfectly.
I go home and I spend an evening replacing the nib in my great-grandfather’s pen and I start to draw.

16th July – 20th November, 2016
Free, suitable for all ages

https://museum.wales/cardiff/whatson/8916/Quentin-Blake-Inside-Stories/

 

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