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Illustration Cupboard

Home > London > Art | Free | Fun Things To Do | Galleries | Literary
by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published December 22nd 2014
Your Favourite Characters Have Been Framed for Life
illustration cupboard

I think the Illustration Cupboard is such an apt name for a gallery based on art inspired by literature. I found this little place on Bury Street in St. James's, and it features a wide range of artists, most of whom I've never heard of before.

illustration cupboard

The Illustration Cupboard is currently running its 19th Annual Winter Exhibition, which runs until the 31st January. The works on display are made up from children's author, Shirley Hughes collection, housed in the Bodelian Library in Oxford. The personal archive features characters from her best-loved Alfie books, along with many other authors.

Alfie Outdoors by Shirley Hughes, illustration cupboard
Alfie Outdoors by Shirley Hughes

The prints are also available to buy but, unless you have more money than sense, then you'll restrict yourself to viewing only. The least expensive item I saw just fell short of 800, while the most expensive was over 8000. The one that sticks in my mind is a simple picture of Miffy the Rabbit by Dick Bruna. Limited to seventy-five pieces on a silk screen, it costs 1850. To be honest, I'd rather buy Miffy picture book for five quid, which comes with a lot more pictures and a story to go along with it.

illustration cupboard, Delights of flying by Debra McFarlane
Delights of flying by Debra McFarlane

The first painting I saw when I walked in was The Delights of Flying (2006) by Debra McFarlane, and had Peter Pan with the Darling Children, flying over London. She also had another painting of the Snow Queen (2007).

illustration cupboard, Yorkshire Gothic by Aardman Animation Studios
Yorkshire Gothic by Aardman Animation Studios

The least expensive prints were by the only name I'd heard of, Aardman Animation Studios. Based on film and television rather than books, they included storyboard sketches and Yorkshire Gothic (2000), a brilliant painting of Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy from Chicken Run.

illustration cupboard,
"He doesn't say 'Please.' He takes it!

In contrast, a series of three original sketches by Beatrix Potter for The Story of the Fierce Bad Rabbit were 8500 each or 22,500 for the lot.

Upstairs I found my favourite illustration, which was by Rae Smith. I liked it because of the pure expression and raw emotion she managed to convey. The drawing depicts Joey from Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, in the scene where he is caught up in the barbed wire. It is filled with pain and pathos.

For something a bit lighter, one of the most humorous pictures is Guinea Pig Riding a Rooster from Anita Jeram's I Love Guinea Pigs.

As well as artwork, Illustration Cupboard also sells books, including children's classics, myths, poetry and books on animation.

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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: Mon-Fri: 9.30am - 6pm, Sat: 11am - 5pm
Phone: 44 (0)20 7976 1727
Where: 22 Bury Street, London, SW1Y 6AL
Cost: Free entry, but art work is expensive
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