This past month has been very hectic, not only with illustration work, but also setting up another major exhibition, a career retrospective at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
The exhibition came about immediately after my return from Tokyo. The hospital Arts Project at NNUH was running a series of workshops for children “Supernatural Garden” run by visiting artists from the University of Tsukuba in Japan, headed by Professor Yasuyoshi Saito and Dr Herb Fondevilla. I’d met Herb some years before in Tokyo, the hospital was very keen to link an exhibition of my children’s book illustrations (especially those published in Japan) with the workshops.
Emma Jarvis, Hospital Arts Co-ordinator, says: “Our colleagues in Japan take a different approach to art and John is a great example of bridging the gap between the two cultures, allowing East to meet West. The illustrations will allow patient, staff and visitors to be reminded of their childhood, looking at detailed illustrations of well-known stories and provide something that everyone can enjoy no matter of their age or gender. The exhibition is a great and very rare opportunity to explore another world through an internationally recognised and award winning artist’s work who lives right on our doorstep, making it the perfect partnership.”
There are over 140 pieces of artwork on display, in 11 large wall mounted display cabinets dotted along the length of the hospital central corridor. The majority of work is children’s book illustration, covering almost 30 years of my career, from my first trade picturebook The Secret in the Matchbox (Andre Deutsch/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1989) to my very latest Stone Giant (Charlesbridge, 2014).
Artwork from other books on show include Peer Gynt (1990), 12 no Tsuki-tachi (The Month Brothers) (1991), Cinderella (1994), Hoppy no Atarashii Uchi (1995), The Magic Umbrella (1999), King Smelly Feet (2002), Hawaiian Big Daddy (2003), The Deptford Mice (2004), my Hans Christian Andersen series (2004-5), Charlie Bone series (2006-7), The Boat in the Tree (2007), The House of the World (2008), Halloween Forest (2012), and Jack & the Beanstalk (2012). Also a number of independent works from exhibitions and other projects. So, this is quite a big show, with examples from the whole gamut of my career in children’s publishing.
Much of the work on show has only been published overseas and is displayed for the first time to the public in the UK. All the works are for sale, either as originals (in the case of stand-alone pieces) or inkjet prints (for book illustrations). The show will run until May 2015, so if you’re in the area over the next six months and have a chance to visit the hospital do take a look.
The Hospital Arts Project at NNUH works on diverse projects with the community, interior design, site specific arts, performances, workshops, exhibitions, events, gardens and more. It’s funded by grants from organisations and charitable donations. For more information visit www.nnuh.nhs.uk/arts
My deepest thanks to everyone behind the show, especially Herb Fondevilla (Tsukuba University), Emma Jarvis (curator, Hospital Arts Project), Richard Drew (Director of Arts in Hospitals), Eloise O’Hare (Norwich Dandies) and Natsue Hayward (Centre of Japanese Studies, UEA).