Raymond Briggs: A Retrospective comes to Winchester Discovery Centre

AN exhibition by one of the UK’s best-loved illustrators will be held in Winchester from next week.

Raymond Briggs: A Retrospective is a touring exhibition that will be in The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre from May 17 to August 18.

Hampshire Cultural Trust says that this is the first-ever exhibition dedicated to the author-illustrator who is synonymous with some of the most popular and influential children’s books and graphic novels ever published, including The Mother Goose Treasury (1966), Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), When the Wind Blows (1982), The Bear (1994) and Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age (2001).

The retrospective will show never-before-seen material from Briggs’ personal archive, revealing the origins of iconic titles that have become household favourites.

Consisting of more than 30 spreads and pages from books and publications, Raymond Briggs: A Retrospective offers insights into his ability to tackle a variety of subjects, as the exhibition’s co-curator, Katie McCurrach, from House of Illustration, said: “Humorous, sensitive and sometimes subversive, Raymond Briggs’ powerful visual stories have depicted a range of universal themes – from family and loss to politics and class – and continue to entertain, challenge and inspire readers across the world. We are delighted to be able to show original artwork from Briggs’ 50-year career to visitors, many pieces for the very first time.”

Ms McCurrach’s colleague and co-curator, Nicolette Jones, added: “Raymond Briggs’ characters, including the first working-class Father Christmas, a punk bogeyman, a flying snowman and his own parents, Ethel and Ernest, are familiar to us all. This exhibition traces their evolution, the development of Briggs’ style and craft and the interconnectedness of all his books.”

Born in 1934, Briggs began drawing cartoons from an early age and, despite his father’s misgivings, he studied painting at Wimbledon School of Art and typography at Central School of Art in London. After two years of National Service, Briggs studied painting at the Slade School.

Although he briefly pursued a career in painting, Briggs’ first commission as an illustrator came in 1958, when he worked on Peter and the Piskies: Cornish Folk and Fairy Tales. In 1966, he won the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustrating The Mother Goose Treasury – an accolade he won again in 1973 for Father Christmas. Other awards followed and in 2017, he was made a CBE.

Briggs’ books have also been adapted into films and TV shows, most notably Fungus the Bogeyman, with Timothy Spall in the title role, the chilling When the Wind Blows, featuring the voices of Sir John Mills and Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and the perennial Christmas favourite, The Snowman.

Kirsty Rodda, visual arts exhibition manager at Hampshire Cultural Trust said: “It is our aspiration to bring outstanding exhibitions to Hampshire. We feel honoured, privileged and, more than anything, incredibly excited to be hosting an exhibition dedicated to this iconic author-illustrator who has contributed so much to the world of publishing. What could be more fitting than for the first touring venue to be part of a wonderful public library, where we can really celebrate his genius.’

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