This summer, popular children’s books The Gruffalo, Zog, Stick Man and Room on the Broom will all be brought together for a new free exhibition opening at The Lowry in Salford. The major new exhibition in collaboration with publishers Macmillan Children’s Books and Scholastic will celebrate the acclaimed partnership between writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler.
Known as Julia and Axel – Thirty Years of Favourite Stories, the exhibition will bring to life some of the world’s best loved characters in contemporary children’s fiction. Kicking off from July and running until the end of the year, visitors can discover more stories behind well-known characters from the terrible tusks and terrible claws of the Gruffalo to the Witch, her cat, and her very tall hat, and Stick Man on his journey home to the ‘family tree’ at this exhibition.
This free family-friendly exhibition will feature several of Julia Donaldson’s personal writing notebooks; containing the very first ideas and creative thinking behind her picture book stories. This will be the first time that they have been shown as a collection, giving visitors a chance to see how her work has developed and changed over the years.
These will be shown alongside Axel Scheffler’s artwork, showing the process of his illustrations from sketches and works in progress, to full page final illustrations that readers are familiar with seeing in the finished books.
Throughout the exhibition there will be lots of fun opportunities for children to be creative themselves as they are guided to write their own stories, draw pictures, dress up, and play fun games inspired by the books. The exhibition will also look at Julia and Axel’s own personal stories and their brilliantly creative partnership and how this has developed over 30 years.
Julia Donaldson says: “I am delighted that we are working in partnership with The Lowry on this exhibition and that they are celebrating 30 years of Axel and me working together. It is exciting to be able to share some ‘behind the scenes’ secrets with our young readers and to show what happens before a finished book is in their hands. I hope that it will help them to feel creative and to start writing and illustrating their own stories, so that we have new picture-book creators in the future.”
Axel Scheffler says: “I find it hard to believe that it is 30 years since Julia Donaldson and I did our first picture book together with A Squash and a Squeeze. So much has happened since then and many children have now enjoyed our stories over the years. I am very pleased that The Lowry is hosting this special celebratory exhibition and that it will give families the chance to discover more about my illustrations and Julia’s writing.”
The exhibition will not only feature much-loved book characters like the Gruffalo but also extracts from Magic Light Pictures’ hugely popular animated Christmas specials for the BBC, as well as songs, photographs. Plus, there will be a specially created ‘storybook room’, inspired by Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book, providing opportunities for friends and families to come together to read and enjoy Julia and Axel’s stories.
Julia and Axel – Thirty Years of Favourite Stories runs at The Lowry, Salford from Saturday 22nd July 2023 to Monday 1st January 2024.