The walls of a gallery may not usually be the place for the illustration work of children’s books but at the Scottish National Gallery this Winter, that is exactly what they display. The Picture Hooks exhibition is the cumulative work of a year-long project by Scottish based Illustrators: five established artists, mentoring five fresh talents of the page!

Regardless of subject matter, Picture Hooks is not only an exhibition for families and youngsters, the brilliant wit and down-to-earth nature of the work is entertaining for viewers of all ages. The exhibition is hosted in the IT Gallery, accessible through Princes Street Gardens – a lionised spot! However, the character creation, experimental and refined image-making techniques and professional execution by the dedicated young creators’ is as inspiring as any mastery oil painting.

The space is complete with a collection of books and a few chairs set out for a quiet reading-time. If you identify as an adult, this is not a moment of regression into childhood, but a time to revisit something you forgot you knew. Picture Hooks portrays children’s book illustration as progressive and highlights how sophisticated and accomplished children’s literature can be.

Simplicity, perhaps conversely to common perception, is an aspect of design which is difficult to hone, it is the most obvious and logical narratives in daily life that are communicated in children’s books, but they are surprisingly wriggly to pin down. Sometimes simple stories contain small wonders in life that become misty as you grow up, every now and then it is still good to be reminded of them. “You will find that a beautiful world awaits you.” (Stuart Simpson)

Why have an exhibition of children’s book illustration at the National Gallery? Scotland nurtures some of the finest illustration talent, which is to be celebrated as a pioneering asset of Scottish culture.



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