Renowned for his striking illustrations in Carnegie Medallist Gillian Cross' adaptation of The Illiad, Neil Packer is one of the biggest names in the contemporary picture book landscape. His impressive breadth of work and variety of illustration styles have won him a legion of admirers, all of whom will be delighted to hear that The Coningsby Gallery is presenting an Open House of his art between 17 and 23 October 2021.
"It's been The Folio Society which has given Neil the breadth of work over the past twenty years, and he's very much enjoyed the challenge of interpreting a variety of books for them," says The Coningsby Gallery. "We hope to have originals from such classics as Foucault's Pendulum and One Hundred Years of Solitude in the show. Perhaps even Catch 22, or Arabian Nights..."
The spur for the exhibition was Neil's latest book, One of a Kind, which turns his interest in categorisation into a charming story about a boy learning how he fits into the world and the history that surrounds all of us. The book - which won the 2021 Bologna Ragazzi Award for non-fiction and has also been shortlisted for the BIB Biennale in Bratislava - is packed with enchantingly detailed illustrations of everything from vehicles to musical instruments. Watch how it was made below.
One of the inspirations for One of a Kind was Neil's passion for cheese, with one of the spreads in the book depicting a sumptuous cheeseboard breaking down his favourite varieties. A print of these pages will be available at the exhibition, along with original art from The Illiad and The Odyssey, plus Book written by John Agard.
The Coningsby Gallery adds: "We'll also be showing a remarkable painted map which shows Neil's own 'Anti-Gentrification Train Garden', which takes its form from the London Underground map and a model railway but with favourite haunts illustrated, many of which are fast disappearing from the city. We plan to show the film of this image, with a model train running, complete with commentary."