Quentin Blake: In the Theatre of the Imagination

Quentin Blake: In the Theatre of the Imagination : An Artist at Work

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Quentin Blake is one of the foremost illustrators of the twentieth century. Perhaps best known for his collaboration with Roald Dahl on books such as The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, The Twits and Matilda, he is cherished by young and old alike, throughout the world.

Yet his work has not attained 'fine art' status. Should it be considered so? How does Blake's background in education inform his work? And what is the interrelation between the work he makes and the life that he leads? Distinguished curator Ghislaine Kenyon has spent a great deal of time with Blake during the last decade and a half and in Quentin Blake In the Theatre of the Imagination she provides a profound insight into an extraordinary man and a truly remarkable body of work.

Kenyon has known Quentin Blake since 1998, and worked with him on staging a jointly curated exhibition 'Tell Me A Picture' in the year of Blake's tenure as Children's Laureate (1999-2000). She followed Blake during the years in which he continued to work 'off the page' producing work for hospitals in Angers and Paris and staging major exhibitions around the world, collaborating with him both in an administrative and curatorial capacity. But what Kenyon has observed, during a number of years of working alongside him, and sharing a friendship, is that Blake's work is necessarily intertwined with his life. His life informs his wonderful illustrations and his artwork in turn informs his life - a life which is extremely private, mysterious and full of complexities and ambiguities.

Kenyon and Blake share a background in teaching, and this interest informs Blake's connection to what educationists call `learning and teaching' but which could also be termed simply education. A shared enthusiasm for education brought Kenyon and Blake together and informs the projects both the artist and curator now work on, aiming to reach children and adults in new ways and provide new experiences.

With exceptional insight into Blake's oeuvre and his life, Ghislaine Kenyon has produced not merely a biography, but a critical view of the artist's work. Quentin Blake: In the Theatre of the Imagination is a fitting tribute to Quentin Blake's journey and his great legacy - the delightful illustrations to over 300 books, several written by him, paintings, prints and sculptures - and the contribution he has made to art education and the lives of so many different people.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 22.86mm | 774g
  • Bloomsbury Continuum
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 200 colour images
  • 1441130071
  • 9781441130075
  • 312,335

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Table of contents

1. Looking Seeing - the modus operandi \ 2.Drawing Childhood - youth, army \ 3 Collaborating - Roald Dahl, Joan Aiken, Russell Hoban, David Walliams \ 4.Learning Teaching - Cambridge, Chelsea, Royal College of Art \ 5.Dressing - the people he draws \ 6.Swimming Flying - his creations, hospital works on this theme \ 7. Writing Speaking - Lectures and Conversations \ 8. Supporting - Philanthropy, House of Illustrationsm, friends and Students \ 9. Becoming - later adventures off the page, curating/hospital work
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Review Text

Quentin is the greatest and most loved illustrator in the world David Walliams
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Review quote

Quentin is the greatest and most loved illustrator in the world * David Walliams * Quentin Blake is without doubt Britain's best-known and best-loved living illustrator. His work has stimulated the fantastical flights of fancy of successive generations of children and adults since the early 1960s. And yet - surprisingly - there has never been a study of this gentle, committed and influential artist. Until Ghislaine Kenyon's book, that is... * Sir Christopher Frayling * It is so intelligent, so modest, so elegantly written, carefully considered, and beautifully produced. Every sentence is packed with thought. It's a gem of a book - bringing imagination and empathy back into play in criticism. I'm loving it so much that I'm even taking it slowly - savouring a page at a time * Frances Wilson * The pictures in this book will make you smile ... The drawings are at the heart of it all, and Ghislaine Kenyon is very good at evoking a sense of not only the artist at work, but of the images themselves, those scratchy, energetic people, animals and other assorted creatures (Zagazoo!) that skitter across his pages and walls so freely ... Kenyon is full of praise for her subject, but the greatest compliment she pays him, in a society that so undervalues books for children, is to take his work seriously. Her book is a celebration, yes, but not one that's rooted in sentiment or nostalgia; rather, in insightful analysis of what makes this artist unique and why his effect on us is so comprehensively positive. It's an apt and well-deserved celebration. * Spectator * A "fine", richly illustrated study of man and work. * The Week * As Ghislaine Kenyon outlines in this charming and energetic biography, there is a case to be made for Blake as an artist whose work can surprise and delight children and grown-ups alike ... Lavishly illustrated, brimming with images both familiar and foreign ... As an off-beat biography it is an endearing tribute to an artist of remarkable intelligence and imagination -- Liam Hess * Times Literary Supplement * Splendidly produced and full of work I might not otherwise get to see. * Joey Cavalieri, Editor and Writer, DC Comics * Kenyon's study of the inimitable Blake, now 83, is richly illustrated and its revealing interviews give a welcome insight into this most distinctive artist. * Royal Academy Magazine *
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About Ghislaine Kenyon

Ghislaine Kenyon worked formerly as Deputy Head of Education at the National Gallery and then Head of Learning at Somerset House. She has curated several exhibitions, including Tell Me a Picture in 2000 with Quentin Blake.
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Rating details

9 ratings
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3 33% (3)
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