The exhibition of artwork by the artist and illustrator Martin Aitchison begins today, May 26th 2005 at the Charnwood Gallery in Loughborough. Last night saw a the official opening by the Mayor of Loughborough and Martin Aitchison himself, a sprightly 85 year-old, gave a speech.
If you possibly can get to the exhibition in the next 6 weeks (it closes on the 10th July) then do. Entrance is free and though it is small - 113 pieces of artwork on display - it is fascinating.
The first thing you notice is the wide range of illustrations that Martin created for Ladybird. He must have been their most prolific illustrator over the 25 years of his collaboration. There are pictures from both series of Peter and Jane, Sunstart, Puddle Lane, Children's Classics, The Story of ...(series 601) Great Artists, Great Musicians Well Loved Tales, Read it Yourself ...
In the picture below you can see Martin, listening to the Mayor's speech. Next to the Mayor is Susan Cooke, Keeper of the Charnwood Museum. Martin's son and two grandchildren are also in the picture. In the far left corner is Ian Keil, who co-wrote the Ladybird Book 'Loughborough -Past and Present'.
There were also some lovely items that bring to life the reality behind the production of well-known pictures. I think my favourite was this photograph that Martin took of himself to get the right pose for the illustration of Old Tom in Book 6a. If you look carefully you will see that Martin's hands are in the wrong position and (looking very carefully indeed) that there is a string passing between his hands. He had no self-timer on his camera - the string was so that he could operate the camera to take the photo!
Below you can see photographic studies for 'Jane' and 'Joy'.
At the opening I also met Kathie Layfield, who worked for Ladybird in the 1970s and produced the illustrations for about 30 books, including Read it Yourself, Children's Classics, The Snow Queen from series 606d and Learnabouts.
You can get a taste of the exhibition from Martin's website - but seeing the pictures 'in the flesh' is very different.
'The Original Artwork of Peter and Jane - and More', The Charnwood Museum, Loughborough, 26th May - 10th July.