Exhibition Opens: The Wonderful World of Axel Scheffler

Released On 1st Jun 2023

Exhibition Opens: The Wonderful World of Axel Scheffler

Axel Scheffler is the UK’s number one bestselling illustrator and the creative force behind some of the most instantly recognisable characters in children’s books – from The Gruffalo to Stick Man and beyond. This summer a new exhibition will bring together the broadest public display of Axel’s illustrations in the UK, giving visitors a unique insight into his published work. The family-friendly exhibition opens at The Museum of Somerset, in Taunton, during the 30th anniversary year of the extraordinary creative partnership between Axel and author Julia Donaldson.

Opening this summer, Axel Scheffler: A Life in Illustration, will feature artwork from across Axel’s prolific career. His unmistakable style, with its luminous colour, expressive faces, and humour, can be found in more than 150 books. The exhibition highlights Axel’s creative process, featuring sketches and preparatory drawings to show how his characters develop and come to life on the page. Work on display ranges from his time spent studying at Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, Wiltshire, to recent books including Jim’s Spectacular Christmas, written by the actress Emma Thompson. Visitors will encounter artwork that hasn’t been seen elsewhere, including editorial drawings from early in his career, and imagery from the first books that he worked on.

Fifteen of the books created by Julia and Axel are featured, including their very first book, A Squash and a Squeeze. Visitors will see original illustrations from The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, Stick Man, and the Pip and Posy series. Many of Axel and Julia’s books, including Zog, The Snail and the Whale and The Smeds and the Smoos, have been adapted into award-winning animations by Magic Light Pictures. Visitors will see original artwork from these books and many others beloved by families.

Axel said: "I spent an unforgettable summer holiday in North Devon in 1975 and fell in love with South West England. I came back in 1982 to study visual communication at Bath Academy of Art in Corsham. I'm very pleased to have my most comprehensive exhibition of my published and unpublished work in the UK so far at the Museum of Somerset."

Exhibitions Manager for the Museum of Somerset, Sarah Cox, said: “Axel’s books have been published in many languages and his work has been seen all around the world. Visitors to the exhibition can discover his journey to becoming the UK’s most popular illustrator and witness the creation of these modern classics. We’re excited to be launching the exhibition in the 30th anniversary year of Axel and Julia’s wonderful creative partnership.”

The exhibition has been created in partnership with Events of Wonder with support from the publishers Macmillan Children’s Books and Scholastic Children’s Books. It is open at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton from 15 July to 28 October. Each week during the summer holidays families will be able to explore a different book as the museum welcomes some unusual visitors including farm animals (A Squash and a Squeeze) and fire breathers (Zog).

For more information visit museumofsomerset.org.uk