Once Upon a Time at Oxford’s North Wall
The North Wall’s exhibition this winter is a celebration of fairytales from the golden age of illustration to modern times. ‘Once Upon a Time’ which opens on 29 November is a collaboration between Zuleika Gallery and Blackwell’s Rare Books. Featuring around 100 works, the show includes rare books, watercolours, original lithographs and ceramics. The exhibition celebrates the genre of illustration and will ignite imaginations. The starting point for inspiration was the Peter Pan production by Creation Theatre also taking place at the North Wall over Christmas. It seemed fitting to curate a show which complemented the theatrical activities of the arts centre, giving audiences at the North Wall a truly multi-dimensional experience.
Visitors to the North Wall are in for a treat with this exhibition which should delight both young and old. One of our most loved and timeless illustrators is Sir Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), who famously illustrated Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. It has been a joy to be able to source some of the original Peter Pan drawings by Rackham from JM Barrie’s 1906 first edition. Both the title page depicting Peter Pan as a baby and the illustration, In the Broad Walk you Meet all the People who are Worth Knowing are included. They will be shown alongside a beautiful first edition of the book, one of just 500 copies signed by the artist.
For the traditionalists there is illustrator and stamp designer Edmund Dulac, whose Fairy Book published by Hodder and Stoughton from 1916 is on show. Original works by Sir Joseph Noel Paton and William Heath Robinson are featured, alongside those of painter and illustrator Edward Ardizonne and Maurice Sendak, best known for Where the Wild Things Are. Works by contemporary illustrators include original watercolours by Emma Chichester Clark of Blue Kangaroo fame, with her characterful illustrations from The Tinder Box, The Emperor’s New Clothes and Rapunzel.
Other contemporary artists include Oxford-based Rachel Gracey, who has work in the Royal Collection, the Ashmolean and the British Museum. She has produced a limited edition lithograph and relief print January, inspired by Hansel and Gretel’s walk in the woods. One of the country’s leading ceramicists - or painter-potter – as she calls herself (and Oxford High School educated) Claudia Clare, is including three pieces in the exhibition. Known for producing work with a strong social commentary, her pot titled Continental Brexit features Juncker Hansel and Gretel May. Among the new editions are anthologies of Hans Christian Anderson and Angela Carter. Perhaps one of the most intriguing books in the exhibition is Diana Oliver’s The Fairy Tale from 2005 which sees art and text truly collide. Known as an ‘altered book’ this work features a sleeping marionette doll curled up between the pages of Lorna Sage’s book Moments of Truth.
It is wonderful to see how authors and artists have collaborated over the years to produce such imaginative and timeless stories to fire the minds of young and old. The exhibition is open from 29 November until 5 January, Monday – Fridays 10-4pm and Saturdays 12-4pm.
The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Oxford OX2 7JN
Tel: 01865 319 450 Website: http://www.thenorthwall.com/