The latest exhibition to land at House of Illustration is Ladybird by Design, an exhibition that features over 120 of the original illustrations from the Ladybird titles, and celebrates 100 years of Ladybird books.
Visitors are given a unique glimpse into not only the iconic artwork from popular titles such as Shopping With Mother, Ladybird ABC and People At Work. But also find out how this affordable book series became such a memorable part of so many generations’ childhoods.
A key learning resource and source of fun and entertainment for many children, the attention to detail and observation into everyday life is both stunning and enthralling.
With topics from ‘How it works – The Hovercraft’ to ‘The Gingerbread Boy’ in the Well-Loved Tales series there wasn’t a subject that the Ladybird books didn’t cover.
In ‘Shopping With Mother’ comforting scenes of everyday life see impeccably dressed Mother and her equally well-dressed children visiting all the different shops on a high-street, a day typical of a time before the advent of the supermarket. We see the family visiting the butchers, the florists, and the chemist in what looks like an idyllic portrait of family life, and domestic duties.
The ABC books are equally beautiful in the detailed and precise, almost photo realistic illustrations by G. Robinson. All of the objects are set on a boldly coloured background with simple friendly text to accompany.
The extremely popular series was incredibly affordable and due to the highly economical method of printing. The format of the books was developed in response to the paper shortage of the Second World War.
All 56 pages of one book were printed on a single sheet of paper, measuring 30 x 40 inches. This sheet was then cut and, folded and bound. Using this design the illustrations would appear on the right page with the text appearing on the left. This method of printing made the books very affordable for consumers.
Because of this method of printing Ladybird books were accessible to the masses.
The Well-Loved series were the staples of my child hood. I fondly remember having this edition of Little Red Riding Hood in particular as a child.
I also love this artwork from ‘People At Work in a Big Store’ by John Berry. It’s almost documentary illustration. I was fascinated to see how tenderly Berry illustrated seemingly mundane objects such as stacks of cardboard boxes inside a warehouse, and packs of wrapped meat rolling down the assembly line. Ladybird Books revealed an exciting world of labour and commerce. Of domestic objects and duties and also classic fairy tales.
If you do fancy a trip down memory lane, the exhibition runs until 27 Sept 2015 and is open 10:00am – 6:00pm