London’s Museums: House of Illustration

Hey everyone! As I’ve been posting a lot about moving to Japan and all those shenanigans, I just wanted to write a quick blog about the city that I’m actually in at the moment: London!

So recently the House of Illustration has been paying a lot of attention to female comic book artists, which of course is a very good thing as there are so many good artists out there. But, what really caught my attention was the Shojo Manga exhibition that they announced on Twitter, advertised as being the biggest exhibition of its kind ever assembled in the UK. So, of course, I had to go.

So for those who are interested in going, the House of Illustration is located in Granary Square, which is just a few minutes walk from King’s Cross Station (yes, the one where platform 9 3/4 is). We headed out on a Saturday morning, having bought tickets online.

At the moment the whole area is being redesigned. I’m not sure what the whole plan is but there were a few viewing platforms for you to check out what was going on. At the moment the view isn’t that spectacular, but I’m sure it’ll change soon enough.

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It so happens that the House of Illustration is near the new Central Saint Martins campus, which you might also be interested in if you’re an aspiring art student.

Before heading to the exhibition we had lunch at the nearby Dishoom, which is an Indian food restaurant. It’s a bit pricey for us, but you can easily share the dishes, and I think that’s the whole point of it. The interior was really interestingly designed and is worth a look.

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The buildings around Granary Square are all historic buildings, and they look like they used to be a factory or warehouse of some sort. This was the case as well for the House of Illustration. And there was a little surprise on one of its windows.

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Quentin Blake! One of my favourite illustrators, you might know him because he illustrated all of Roald Dahl books.

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Going into the gallery, we headed straight to the Shojo Manga exhibition and were lead into a small room containing work by three different manga artists: Keiko Takemiya, Yukiko Kai and Akiko Hatsu. And to be completely honest, I was expecting more.

As it was advertised as the biggest exhibition of the sort, I was expecting a lot of work to be present, but there were only a few prints by the three artists in that tiny room. I wasn’t the only one confused by this, as another visitor kept asking the invigilators where the rest of the exhibition was. I mean, we did have to pay £7 to get in, which in the UK is not very usual (most exhibitions and museums are free), so we were all expecting a bit more.

Luckily, the ticket did allow us to visit any other exhibitions happening at the time, so we were able to see the Comix Creatix exhibition with work by 100 female comic book artists. That was a lot more interesting. They had prints, original artwork and each artist’s books for you to look at. There was work by a lot of my favourite artists, such as Posy Simmonds, Kate Beaton, Joana Estrela and Philippa Rice.

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In the end, it was an interesting visit, but I still left feeling a bit disappointed with the Shojo Manga exhibition. Not that they lied on their website or anything, it is clearly stated that there were only three artists being represented, but don’t emphasize its large size when it’s only a small room. And where the hell was CLAMP, Naoko Takeuchi and Riyoko Ikeda in all this??

One thing I do love about the House of Illustration is their yearly book illustration competition in partnership with the Folio Society. It’s a great opportunity for artists of any kind and I was introduced to a lot of great books, such as Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and The Outsider by Albert Camus, through this. So check that out as well.

After that we went into Pizza Union, a great pizza restaurant, not to have pizza but ice cream! Yeah, we’re weird like that. It’s just that they sell ice cream from a shop we love, called Oddono’s. They’re ice cream is so creamy, so tasty, I completely recommend trying it!

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Hope you enjoy this. Please comment! I’d like to hear from you!

Until next time,

Inês

 

 

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