Quentin Blake is known by young and old alike, his name having been synonymous with his illustrations for Roald Dahl’s books. Recently Quentin Blake has been commissioned by hospitals and health centres in the UK and abroad to produce works which have a therapeutic effect on their residents. This summer, Quentin Blake's work arrives at the Laing Art Gallery, bringing together over 50 works for visitors to experience the effects for themselves.
The themes in the exhibition include the following:
Our friends in the circus
Ellington Ward in Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow (2009).
This is an older adults’ mental health ward for which Quentin has made a series of pictures on a circus theme. The series of circus characters – jugglers, tightrope-walkers, fire-eaters and clowns – forms a display which can be seen as celebrating the lifelong persistence of well-practised talents.
Ordinary life in Vincent Square
Vincent Square Eating Disorder Clinic, London (2010).
Before making these works, Quentin met the young service-users and discussed his ideas with them. These drawings are a kind of celebration of everyday life, depicting characters feeding birds, walking a dog, painting a self-portrait and a host of other activities.
Mothers and babies underwater
Maternity hospital at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Angers, France (2011).
This is one of Quentin’s biggest hospital projects. The new maternity hospital, part of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Angers, opened its doors to expectant mothers in early October 2011. The glass facade, the foyer, the midwife station, the fathers’ room and each of the 11 delivery suites are all animated by drawings based on the theme of the mother meeting her new baby, swimming together underwater.
Welcome to Planet Zog
The Alexandra Avenue Health and Social Care Centre, South Harrow (2007).
This hospital caters for young people, and Quentin's enormous Planet Zog drawings now animate waiting areas and other public spaces.