House of Illustration

House of I.

I started my placement last Thursday. It was a very cold February day and I wasn’t sure how long it will take me from my house to the House of Illustration, so I arrived 25 minutes before my starting time at 9.30 am.!! The temperature was 0 degrees and I was wondering around and getting familiar with Kings Cross. As a Southern European as was dressed with layers and layers, yet I could feel the cold passing through all my clothes and thoughts. The question came back; the same question I have every winter since my arrival in the UK eight years ago: will I live here for good? And them the same answer: this is the loveliest place to be ever in summer… although I can believe it when I’m going through the winter.

Finally, someone opened the door at 9.25, But they weren’t expecting me! The visitor manager, Holly Burrows, who asked me to come, forgot to let know the rest of the team that I was coming on this day. Fortunately, after checking with Holly they told me that it was good for them to have one more helper. Next week I will be assisting in three workshops but for this Thursday I worked as a vigilant and it was actually quite interesting. When being quiet in a corner for hours surrounded just by the exhibition’s works you can learn more than what you think. We should never underestimate the power time plus observation. Time, that precious thing we seem to lack so much, time to look at things, time to really understand the kind of people interested in illustration and to hear their comments about what they see, time to see how this place works in detail.


The actual collective exhibition is filled up with wonderful drawings, storyboards, posters, illustrations and wonderful graphic novels books… and now I can look at all this and read this books within the many hours I will have to spend here today! At the end of my first day at the House of Illustration I felt completely drank of one of the things I most like in the world: illustration.

At the moment the House of Illustration is hosting an exhibition of the work of pioneering female comics artists. Exploring the world of comics through original artwork by 100 women comic creators working across genres and generations – from the 1800s to the present day; from observational comedy to surreal fantasy, challenging biography to subversive dissent. On display is original artwork from graphic novels, comics and zines – many seen in public for the first time. It will feature work from acclaimed titles such as Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland and Isabel Greenberg’s Encyclopedia of Early Earth as well as self-published sensations like Nadine Redlich’s Ambient Comics and many more. Some of the images in this exhibition are dealing in a masterly way way with very difficult issues such as abuse, grieve, isolation, rape… in a straight forward way to meet the viewer with this traumas, much better than explained with words.

Also theirs is an exhibition of the artist David Lemm: Mapping King’s Cross: a multi-disciplinary exploration of the changing King’s Cross landscape by our Illustrator in Residence. The first two hours of my day I was at the entrance of David Lemm’s exhibition. Here you can see a set of 24 square wooden boards with collages representing maps of Kings Cross with his observations and experiences in the area.  Among the different visitors to this room I was very interested in a group of students with a tutor talking about phytogeography. The tutor was talking about a known personage that predicted 20 years ago by channelling energies that Kings Cross area was going to be a playground for imagination and this is the reason for Saint Martin’s University and the House of Illustration ended placed in this area. I was very interested in this conversation, yet I couldn’t get the name of this personage and because of my “invisible” role as a vigilant I couldn’t ask. I will, anyway, research about it.


At the moment they also have The Book Illustration Competition Longlist 2016. entrants have been asked to illustrate Michael Morpurgo’s classic War Horse.There are many very strong illustrations from all around the world. The winner will be announced on 25 February 2016.


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