The House of Illustration 22.07.14

  • Characters from Inside Stories by Quentin Blake, 2014

  • The Twits by Quentin Blake, 2010

The world's first gallery dedicated to illustration opened this month with an exhibition of works by Quentin Blake

The world's first gallery dedicated to illustration opened this month in King's Cross. A modest building, refurbished on a tiny budget in just a few months, The House of Illustration is the first project to be completed by architect Witherford Watson Mann since it won the Stirling Prize.

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The gallery occupies a Victorian office building that sits adjacent to the Granary Building, now home to Central St Martins. WWM was tasked with modifying a suite of rooms that retained the character of the original building, but allowed a degree of control that would allow exhibits ranging from Quentin Blake doodles to Daumier works. "We had to find a way to hold on to the character of this quite grand building, but also create intimacy," says architect William Mann.

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The solution was to create "double enclosures". WMM built "rooms within rooms", creating a series of white box galleries within the building that break down at certain points to reveal moulded doorways, sash windows and deep joinery linings. This allows the gallery to control the atmospheric conditions of the spaces, but retains a sense of history. "On a project as small and quick as this, you don't have a lot to work with," says Mann. "So you look for the quirky moments."

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The opening show is Inside Stories, a collection of works by Britain's best-loved illustrator Quentin Blake. Blake has supported the idea for the gallery for many years and is a founding trustee. At the opening, he mused on the purpose of the gallery "Illustration is around us at all times. Here we can stop and think about it. It is an accessible way into art. Illustrators will come here and there will be a sense of community – I hope."

Inside Stories runs until 2 November

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Words

Owen Pritchard

quotes story

On a project as small and quick as this, you don’t have a lot to work with, so you look for the quirky moments

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