Saturday, 15 November 2014 by Lotte Inch
…well, The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at least! Sarah Butler tells us why...
Our new exhibition at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Nostalgia & Progress: Illustration After the Second World War marks the third instalment in the Gallery's popular occasional series exploring the history of printing techniques and British book illustration.
Bawden, Ardizzone, Keeping, Dulac, Searle, Hearld, Sutton...the show is a veritable (and visual) feast of big names from the world of illustration both old and new. Over one hundred framed works, ranging from monochrome linocuts through to detailed ink drawings and candy-coloured kitsch screenprints adorn the walls in vibrant constellations.
Whilst technological advances may have changed the way some present-day illustrations have been produced, for example, Matthew the Horse has used an inkjet printer to create his lively Houseplant series, clearly, many of the contemporary artists have been inspired by their illustrious, illustrator forebears. Alice Pattullo's lithograph Whitby Whaling, for example, echoes Edward Bawden's 1950s Brighton Pier both in its jaunty style and seaside subject matter. The shadowy palate favoured by Charles Keeping for his sinister literary illustrations in the 1970s is referenced in Ed Kluz's brooding images of historical buildings drawn on scraperboard.
Alice Pattullo, Whitby Whaling, 2013, 4 colour lithograph produced in collaboration with the Curwen Studio. (c) The Artist
I also find it fascinating how, sixty years on, some illustrators are still employing traditional media and techniques to produce their work. Emily Sutton uses jewel-hued watercolours in her charming book covers in a similar way to Edmund Dulac, who was at his peak in the 1950s.
Who said illustrations were just for books and children? You don't need to be a bibliophile to enjoy this exhibition. Indeed, one of my favourite pieces is the David Gentleman Quayside at Mistley lithograph that greets you as you walk into the display area.
David Gentleman, Quayside at Mistley, 1966, lithograph, printed at the Curwen Studios. (c) The Artist
There is even an interactive element to the show to satisfy all you budding Bawdens and gadget gurus out there. Combine old-school creativity with cutting-edge technology by drawing a picture, photographing it with our iPad and then decorating your uploaded work on screen. All the images will be added to the Gallery's Flickr account so it's a fantastic opportunity for others to view your masterpiece online.
It's a good job the exhibition doesn't finish until 28 February 2015; with so much delectable artwork to appreciate, I guarantee you'll need more than one visit.