Eastern Europe, Quentin Blake and an Overrunning Interview

Wednesday was 8-11s Geography, covering Eastern Europe this time. We looked at how many different countries are covered by this description and how many of them used to be different countries, with different boundaries and/or part of the USSR, yet still managed to retain unique identities, music and languages underneath a layer of sovietism. We matched capital cities to countries (tricky now there are so many new ones!), looked in more detail at the Baltic States and then played a game matching countries with their flags. All good stuff, and hopefully not too confusing for 6; I am aware as we do it that the HE group way of learning is probably harder to follow than a textbook in a classroom, but I suspect in the long run it may be more rewarding too.
Recorders for A, lunch and a play in the park and then we headed off to the Fitzwilliam to see their Quentin Blake exhibition before it finishes. We met up with one of K’s friends from choir and his mum – he was having a week off school because his class were away on a camp he was unable to attend, so more spare time to meet up, which make K very happy. The exhibition was small and not quite what we had expected. We have several books by QB or with QB illustrations and probably associate him most with Roald Dahl, but those featured were mostly more recent: various by David Walliams, Russell Hoban’s Rosie’s Magic Horse – which L now wants us to buy – a rather gruesome (yet also comedic) illustration from Voltaire and also some of the works he has done for various hospitals and clinics around the world.
Quentin Blake: Drawn by Hand looks at individual works Quentin has produced in the past few years: book illustrations, etchings, lithographs, drawings and works done for hospitals in various and contrasting media.
The exhibition includes an original in watercolour pastel from the sequence The Life of Birds, donated to the Fitzwilliam by Alice Fleet; as well as originals, drawn in reed-pen and watercolour, from two series of pictures of mothers and their babies swimming underwater which decorate the maternity unit of Angers Hospital and the Rosie Birth Centre at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
This work is accompanied by a display of pens, brochures, inks, watercolours, etching plates and other materials from the artist’s studio.
Quentin Blake comments: “Over the past few years I have produced, in addition to book illustration, a large number of works to appear in museums, hospitals and other public spaces; a sort of odyssey on the drawing-board which I recount in the book Beyond the Page. I was delighted to think that an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam gave me the opportunity to allow the spectators to see a diversity of these works and their techniques at close quarters.”

The tools of his trade displayed in the central cases were especially interesting when we started to look at which pictures might have been done with which techniques. We’ve decided to have a go at one of the styles there: a bold outline in a single colour filled in with strokes of assorted bright colours, almost like a rainbow. We were also very taken with the black outline and monochrome colour wash style which used density of colour rather than change of colour to show shade and light – might have a go at that too 😉
After the Fitz visit things started to get more complicated. K and his friend walked to choir while the girls and I looked round a bit more, then walked back to the car. I tried to phone Bob, who should have just been finishing an interview but there was no answer, so we popped to a supermarket to get some bits for tea. Still no answer – then a text to say he was still in the interview and would be for some time. By now he should have been meeting J’s train and collecting A from me, leaving us to pick up K and wait for girls’ choir. Fortuitously, just as I was wondering what to do K’s choir friend phoned to ask if we had plans for between choirs and on hearing the problem offered to take the girls while I collected J and to arrange for the lift her child was getting home from choir to be extended to include K as well. The prospect of playing with a friend (K’s choir friend has a sister in L’s choir and another in A’s choir – how perfect is that?!) reconciled A to the prospect of missing Rainbows and I was only about 20 minutes late getting to J – who had a book so didn’t mind 😉
Bob joined us there once his interview was finally over so J, K and A were able to go home with him while I took L and 6 back in for their choir – in St Catharine’s college chapel this time; they’re really getting to see some lovely places!

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