Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The Picture Book World of Polly Dunbar

An event report from Liz Bankes

This is a command: get yourself to Daunt Books on London's Marylebone High Road sometime before 24th of March! An utterly lovely experience awaits you. The Picturebook World of Polly Dunbar is an exhibition of over 60 original artworks from Polly Dunbar’s books, featuring all her much-loved characters – Ben and Penguin from Penguin, Tilly, Hector, Pru and the rest from the Tilly and Friends, Lizzie and her Dad from David Almond’s My Dad’s a Birdman, and many more. And if you haven’t been to Daunt Books (as I hadn’t) then you can have the double pleasure of seeing the exhibition and being in a proper ‘booky’ bookshop. Everything is wooden and there are galleries and staircases and books lining the walls – you will want to live there.

It’s also a lovely setting for Polly Dunbar’s illustrations. Her books already seem like classics.
The illustration ‘You be saucer, I’ll be cup’ from Here’s a Little Poem is an example – it feels like a picture I’ve known since I was a child, even though I’ve actually only just seen it! Seeing the original artwork allows you to look at this picture in detail – and there is a lot to see. The picture is made up of different textures, with the stars, characters and background cut from different types of material, and the flowery tablecloth is made from what looks like pink glittery wallpaper. Her characters seem familiar, like old friends, even though we’ve actually only met quite recently. I think especially with the Tilly and Friends series, because each book follows one of the gang, the characters’ personalities just leap off the page. This was the same even seeing one page from a book as an artwork on its own. My particular favourite is Hector the pig, and it was fun to go through the exhibition finding him in different pictures. Each picture is a story in itself, and even if you haven’t read the book it’s from you can tell immediately what is going on, and how the characters feel about one another.

Polly Dunbar was at the exhibition herself on Thursday 17th of March, spending her St Patrick’s Day kindly signing books for keen exhibition goers (thanks Polly!). I would imagine there were many young Polly fans who were later thrilled to be presented with a book containing not only her signature, but a sketch of one of the characters. She also did a signing/family event on Saturday 19th March. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to the Picturebook World of Polly Dunbar. Ben and Penguin are expecting you.
The Picture Book World of Polly Dunbar

18th - 24th March 2011

Daunt Bookshop

83 Marylebone High St

London W1U 4QW

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