Exhibition of Blake book covers comes to Rugby Art Gallery and Museum

BOOK covers created by legendary illustrator Quentin Blake feature in a new exhibition at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum.
Cover illustration for The Green Ship by Quentin Blake (© Quentin Blake 1998).
06 February 2024

Quentin Blake: Book Covers, which opens at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum next month, features 60 Blake book covers from the 1960s to the present day, including finely-crafted special editions, first editions and poetry books.

The exhibition also includes reproductions of original Blake illustrations to demonstrate how he combines typography, dynamic layouts and his unique drawing style to create his trademark designs.

Blake described drawing book covers as "one of the most difficult things," with each cover presenting a new challenge.

 His cover illustrations aim to capture the essence of the story without revealing too much of the plot, while complementing the book's title and cover typography.

Quentin Blake: Book Covers, a touring exhibition produced by the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, runs at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum until Saturday 11 May.

Katie Boyce, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum's senior exhibitions and programming officer, said: "Quentin Blake's distinctive illustrations have entertained generations, inspiring the imaginations of millions of young readers.

"But Quentin Blake: Book Covers explores the diversity of his career in book covers, from illustrations for Penguin classics by the likes of Evelyn Waugh in the 1960s to the stunning cover illustration of his own book, The Green Ship, nearly four decades later.

"It's wonderful to welcome the work of one of our most celebrated illustrators to Rugby offering school groups and families alike the chance to explore Blake's playful characters, heart-warming narratives, and unique artistic style, encouraging young minds to explore their own creativity. We're looking forward to giving visitors the chance to discover the method behind Blake's magical drawings.”

Born in the suburbs of London in 1932, Blake first had his drawings published in Punch magazine when he was 16-years-old and still at school.

He was head of the Royal College of Art's illustration department for more than 20 years and was later appointed the first ever Children's Laureate, a role which saw him promote children's literature.

Blake received a knighthood in 2013 for services to illustration.

Cllr Adam Daly, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for leisure and wellbeing, said: "Rugby Art Gallery and Museum's first new exhibition of 2024 promises to be a treat for readers of all ages, celebrating an illustrator whose work has become instantly recognisable to both young and old.

"It's a fascinating exhibition and we're delighted to have partnered with the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration to bring it to Rugby."

For more information about exhibitions, school workshops and events at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, visit www.ragm.co.uk