Exhibition tells the Ladybird artists’ stories

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A special exhibition uncovering the story of the artists who illustrated Ladybird books for more than 30 years opens at The Beaney in Canterbury on Saturday 9 June.

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.

For the first time, this exhibition puts on display an unparalleled collection of books, original artwork and artefacts and shows how the numerous, talented Ladybird illustrators played such an enormous role in the extraordinary success of the company in the 20th century.

Tracing the interconnected work of these artists, the Ladybird story itself is recounted over its ‘golden years’ – 1940 to 1975. Visually rich and varied, the exhibition will evoke many memories of childhood.

It is jointly curated by The Beaney and Ladybird enthusiast Helen Day, who has spent more than 20 years researching the company and collecting items.

The exhibition is supported by a variety of family activities, including a make-your-own Ladybird book, Ladybird gallery trail and make-and-do finger puppet.

Chairman of the city council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “Everyone will have had Ladybird books on their shelves at some point in their life, so this colourful and hugely-varied collection will remind people of their childhood days and of a world that is fast disappearing.

“We’re very pleased to be working with Helen Day on the curation of this exhibition and to be revealing the lives and stories of the illustrators who helped to make the Ladybird books such an important part of our literary heritage.”

‘The Story of the Ladybird Artists 1940 to 1975’ runs from Saturday 9 June to Sunday 23 September in the Special Exhibitions Room at The Beaney. Admission is free.

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