Norwich - City of Stories

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14 February 2018

Sophie and The BFG c Quentin Blake 2018

This March, gentle titan of illustration Quentin Blake will be exhibiting a special collection of works in Norwich's Millennium Library

As part of the Living Knowledge network (A British Library initiative for making our intellectual heritage accessible to everyone), this special exhibition will be comprised of 10 portraits of Roald Dahl characters, painted in watercolour by Quentin Blake. Commissioned as part of the Roald Dahl centenary last year; Blake invited 10 famous characters back to ‘sit’ for a portrait, with each one depicted more formally than we might have seen them in the pages of Dahl's books. 

Matilda c Quentin Blake 2016

Matilda, credit Quentin Blake 2016


Quentin Blake's drawings will be a symbol of childhood for most of us. His roughish, playful graphite lines were the construction of many of our favourite characters, and his bright watercolour washes illuminated our imaginations. This exhibition will be truly special - not just because this is the only place in the region where you can see these specially commissioned works - but because so many people will have a connection to the characters on display. 

Blake has always drawn, but his first works made it into print in Punch, when he was 16 and still at school. After school - then national service - Blake studied English at Downing College, Cambridge, going on to do a postgraduate teaching diploma at the University of London, followed by life-classes at Chelsea Art School. Beyond that - and all the time still illustrating - he taught for over twenty years at the Royal College of Art, where he was head of the Illustration department from 1978 to 1986.

He started working on children's books in the 1960's, and has worked with writers such as Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, Michael Rosen and of course - Roald Dahl. He has also created his own much-loved characters Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage. Plus, since the 1900s Blake has worked as a curator, curating shows in the National Gallery, the British Library & Musée du Petit Palais in Paris. Recently he has made larger scale works for hospital and healthcare settings, including a scheme for an entire maternity hospital in Angers. 


Sophie and The BFG c Quentin Blake 2017

Sophie and The BFG ;Credit Quentin Blake 2016


You'll be able to see these very special portraits of your favourite Roald Dahl characters from March until June this year, on the ground floor of the Millennium Library. The series was created to celebrate 100 years since the children's author was born, and includes perennial favourites such as The BFG, Matilda and Charlie Bucket. According the Blake, "the perceptive spectator may notice that one celebrated couple declined to appear together, and another formidable personality obviously disapproved of the whole venture", so take a look out for who you can spot!

Find out more here 



Greater Anglia has Advance fares from £10 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.

East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.

Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.


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