- Date: 24 August 2010
- Artform: Literature
- Area: North
This exhibition took place at Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle, from September 2009 to May 2010. Seven Stories is the only gallery and archive in the UK wholly dedicated to the art of children's books.
The event celebrated the life work of the children's writer Judith Kerr and was an opportunity for children, families and school parties to view exhibits chronicling the life of the author and the development of her work over many years. She is a popular children's writer and illustrator perhaps best known for the Mog series and allegorical works specifically for children which explain the second world war from a child's eye view - these are based on her own experiences (her family fled Germany in 1933).
The exhibition was a combination of interactive opportunities and original manuscripts and drawings, including some of the author's own childhood paintings, and was created by the Seven Stories curatorial staff in consultation with the author herself. It was targeted at family audiences with related outreach work. There was an opportunity for local schoolchildren to be involved in the project from the start and to make a video about their feelings and ultimately for some to meet the author. Teachers were able to attend an evening with Michael Rosen, the former Children's Laureate, in an event for Holocaust Memorial Day which promoted the use of whole texts with children to encourage understanding and creativity.
The exhibition at Seven Stories was partly funded from the Arts Council's annual grant to this regularly funded organisation, which is also core funded by Newcastle City Council who have collaborated with the Arts Council in areas covering provision of art to local communities. A further grant of £82,000 from the Lottery funded Grants for the arts national touring scheme has been awarded to Seven Stories and, as well as funding other exhibitions, is supporting the tour of the Judith Kerr exhibition to three venues nationally between 2010 and 2012. Arts Council funding has helped Seven Stories to develop its skills base to create engaging and relevant exhibitions.
While showing at Seven Stories, the Judith Kerr exhibition attracted 64,600 visits including 4,913 children on school trips. Comments from some of the children who visited the exhibition include the following:
'I was really excited about meeting Judith before we came to Seven Stories and now that we're here, I can't believe it. The best bit has been looking at the drawings she did when she was my age and to hear her talk about it. It's inspired me to draw more and try it out - I've really enjoyed today.' Jess, age 10
'I've really enjoyed today and meeting Judith. I like that she takes her time and puts so much effort into her illustrations. She's made me want to write books for children when I'm older.' Fajar, age 10
Children's author and playwright David Wood, who adapted The Tiger Who Came to Tea and turned it into a play, commented: 'The exhibition is wonderful - it becomes a journey through Judith Kerr's life which is a very interesting and exciting and sad life, from a very early age. It brings you right the way round through when she started writing her books and right to the end when she is still writing them and I think it is beautifully done, a huge success.'
For further information visit www.sevenstories.org.uk