Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration will be world’s largest public arts space for the medium

The House of Illustration will rename and relocate to the £8 million institution planned for London’s Islington, with the existing gallery remaining closed until its scheduled 2022 completion.

Date
29 July 2020
Reading Time
2 minute read

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Quentin Blake’s House of Illustration gallery will relocate to a huge renovated windmill and engine house in London’s Islington, as part of an £8 million project to create the world’s largest public arts space dedicated to illustration. Renamed the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration, the site will become a permanent exhibition space for Blake’s extensive archive of work – featuring selections from 40,000 pieces – as well as housing temporary exhibition galleries, an education centre, event spaces, and a cafe and shop, all amidst half an acre of surrounding land.

The New River Head site features four 18th and 19th Century industrial buildings including London’s only surviving windmill, which will be redeveloped with Tim Ronalds Architects as lead designers, starting June 2021. The firm has a history in designing event and education buildings, and was behind the redevelopment of Hackney Empire. The gallery has already raised over £3 million and recently secured a further £1 million from the Architectural Heritage Fund, all of which will support its first development stage. The rest of the £8 million is set to be raised through individual donations, grants from trusts and foundations, and a public fundraising campaign.

The House of Illustration opened in Granary Square, King’s Cross in 2014, as a hub for celebrating contemporary and historical illustration. It closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the gallery has now announced it will not reopen “in order to focus resources on the redevelopment” which is intended to open in autumn 2022. However its online education programme will continue, and a series of touring exhibitions will still take place across the UK.

Quentin Blake said in a statement that he is “enormously proud to have my name associated with this international home for an art which I know and love, and for artists who speak in a myriad of visual languages, but are understood by all. It is going to be amazing.”

Olivia Ahmad, artistic director of the House of Illustration, said: “We are thrilled to be embarking on a project that will secure a permanent and much-needed public centre for illustration and graphics in the UK and a home for Sir Quentin’s archive. We look forward to expanding and developing our pioneering work that explores the importance of graphic art in our lives, supports emerging creators and empowers people of all ages to use visual communication.”

GalleryQuentin Blake Centre for Illustration

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Visualisations by Tim Ronalds Architects

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Visualisations by Tim Ronalds Architects

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Visualisations by Tim Ronalds Architects

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Visualisations by Tim Ronalds Architects

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New River Head site. Photography: Justin Piperger

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New River Head site. Photography: Justin Piperger

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New River Head site. Photography: Justin Piperger

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New River Head site. Photography: Justin Piperger

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Tim Ronalds Architects

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent the last ten years working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on news@itsnicethat.com.

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