A special exhibition at Paisley Museum this Christmas. The history of picture book illustration: ‘Magic in the Nursery’
The ‘founding fathers’ of the modern children’s picture book in Britain, if not the world, were the late Victorians Walter Crane (1845-1915) and Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886). Their colourful and fanciful images for children are acknowledged as the breakthrough in a modern sensibility towards children and their pictures books.
Together with Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) they created images for children – and adults who read to them – that have more than stood the test of time and this touring exhibition which opens at Paisley Museum on 9 November, celebrating their importance and success, is a selection from their nursery books published in the 1870s and 1880s.
Walter Crane was the first of the trio to illustrate nursery books and his style, if sometimes a little formal, was nonetheless the first breath of fresh air in a new look for picture books. In succession of Crane, Caldecott instantly showed a lighter, more intuitive drawing style which animated the page with lively observations of people and animals in action. Greenaway’s drawing style differed again, with her popular vision of an ideal childhood, where children most resemble ‘little adults’, is as successful today as it was to the late Victorians.
The exhibition, however, is not simply a collection of these beautiful and imaginative children’s illustrations by Victorian masters. Rhymes and music have been central to the child’s intellectual and aesthetic development and the pictures in the exhibition, interpreting as they are well known and less well known nursery rhymes and jingles, encourage a re-engagement with this effective means of storytelling and the education of the very young.
In addition to ‘Magic in the Nursery’, we will be running drop in art activities for children, each Saturday from 12pm – 3pm for the duration of the exhibition.
So, why not come along and see the show! Children will be enthralled, parents inspired and grandparents invigorated by these images from childhood!
Magic in the Nursery will be on display at Paisley Museum from Friday 9 November – Sunday 6 January. Entry to this exhibition costs £2, and it is FREE to under 16’s.