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Step into The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists at The Base

Step into the nostalgic world of Ladybird Books and the stories told through the original artwork as The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists exhibition comes to The Base, Greenham from Friday 20 September until Sunday 15 December.

Ladybird Books have been a familiar fixture on children’s bookshelves since the 1950s but few people are aware that they actually date back to the early days of the Second World War. In an unparalleled collections of books, original artwork and artefacts, The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists will uncover the story of the talented artists who illustrated Ladybird books for more than 30 years, tracing the interconnected work between them throughout Ladybird’s ‘golden years’ from 1940 to 1975 and the enormous role they played in the extraordinary success of the company in the 20th century.


Ladybird expert and enthusiast Helen Day, who has spent more than 20 years researching the company and collecting items, has curated this visually rich and varied exhibition, bringing together a story that is sure to evoke many strong memories of childhood and also introduce a new generation of readers to the beautiful illustrations.


Helen says, ‘For many years now, I’ve been interested in the history of Ladybird books and in the artists who illustrated them. I began as a collector but my interest soon broadened into a desire to understand better the social history that the books contain. Ladybird books illustrated many childhoods and the Ladybird artists gave us an interpretation of the 20th century in bright colour and careful detail’.


There are two Relaxed Days (3 Oct & 9 Nov), where there will be reduced numbers admitted into the gallery and extra staff will be on hand to offer support to those with additional needs. Families are welcome to enjoy the exhibition at any time but on Parent and Baby Days (18 Oct, 15 Nov & 6 Dec) there will be soft play mats and toys provided within the exhibition space for little ones to enjoy.


There is also the chance to extend your visit to The Base with a wide range of activities across all age groups, inspired by the exhibition. For families there is the chance to enjoy the much-loved Ladybird classics with storytelling and songs by Bearface Theatre inThe Wonderful World of Ladybird Storytelling, as well as the opportunity to create your own Ladybird-inspired book design in the Ladybird Today workshops.


For adults, as well as the chance to create an original silk design in Helen Mortimer’s Ladybird Silk workshop, there is a range of talks that offer a deeper insight into Ladybird books both past and present. Comedy writers Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris discuss how they pair classic illustrations with new text to hilarious effect in Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups, and artist Meryl Donoghue explores how computers have changed the way illustrations are created in Pencil to Cursor: Ladybird for the Digital Age. Nick Aitchison will be sharing his stories of growing up with his father, Martin Aitchison, one of the most prolific Ladybird artists, and will be joined by special guests Andrew and Jean Glendinning – ‘the real Peter and Jane’ – in The Life Behind the Art, while curator Helen Day looks at the often amusing attempts to keep the books up to date over the decades in ‘That Won’t Do!’ Keeping Ladybird Books up to Date in the 1970s.


This exhibition is kindly supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists is at The Base, Greenham from Friday 20 September to Sunday 15 December. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm (last entry 4pm). Advance tickets £8 (£7 concs, £6 under-16s, £6 groups of 10+, under-5s free). Tickets are also available on the door. Tickets can be purchased in advance on The Base website, www.thebasegreenham.co.uk or via the Corn Exchange Newbury Box Office on 0845 5218 218 (calls cost 2p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge).

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