The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Artists
Update – 23rd March 2021
The exhibition was previously on in Basingstoke, summer 2020
(The video below shows part of the deinstallation from New Walk Museum in Leicester – where the exhibition proved to be one of their most successful ever exhibitions.
Prior to Basingstoke, the exhibition was shown at The Base, Newbury and New Walk Museum in Leicester. It started life at The Beaney, in Canterbury.
Uncover the story of the talented artists who illustrated Ladybird books for more than 30 years.
This beautiful and colourful exhibition puts on display an unparalleled collection of books, original artwork and artefacts and shows how the numerous, talented Ladybird illustrators played such an enormous role in the extraordinary success of the company in the 20th century.
Tracing the interconnected work of these artists, the Ladybird story itself is recounted over its ‘golden years’ – 1940 to 1975. Visually rich and varied, the exhibition will evoke many memories of childhood.
It is curated by Ladybird expert and enthusiast Helen Day, who has spent more than 20 years researching the company and collecting items.
The exhibition is supported by a variety of family activities, including a make-your-own Ladybird book, Ladybird gallery trail and lots and lots of vintage books to browse and share.
What is the story behind the Ladybird Artists exhibition, which began in Canterbury in June 2018?
The more I research the history of the original Ladybird Books brand, the more strongly I feel that it encapsulates so much of the history of the 20th century. There were many different factors behind Ladybird books’ phenomenal success in the 1950s – 80s but as Ladybird books were essentially picture books, it could be said that their success rested largely with the success of the artwork in attracting and engaging readers. But who were these artists? Are they known for other work? What was the context in which they were illustrating? Who were the models for the pictures and what were the real locations? These are some of the questions that the exhibition explores – and in the process, it recounts the fascinating story of the little Loughborough print business which became a giant in children’s publishing.
- Newbury Corn Exchange, The Base – 20th Sept – 15th December 2019 (Numbers not known)
- Leicester New Walk Museum – 13th July 2019 – 1st Sepember 2019
The exhibition turned out to be on of Leicester New Walk’s most successful exhibitions with (in a short run of only 7 weeks)a total attendance of 31,043
Average per week: 4,258Average per day: 609
- The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge 9th June – 23rd Sept 1918 Final visitor numbers to the exhibition: 18,146
Firstly, here’s a brief video made by ITV Kent:
- Here’s an iterview recorded for ArtMatters – ARTUK.Org about the Ladybird artists
Below is a snapshot of images from the Canterbury exhibition – to give you a flavour
The nostalgic aspect of the exhibition had a powerful effect – on staff as well as on the visiting public!
The reception of visitors to the exhibition has been amazing and universally positive. Donations to the exhibition were significantly up over the period and the comments board was filled as fast as it was cleared of enthusiastic responses.
Comments on social media were also abundent and enthusiastic. Here is a sample.
BBC Radio Kent (two programmes)
Local newspapers (3 features)