Explore the life and works of Raymond Briggs in the late author illustrator's first curated show

The life and works of one of the UK's most beloved author-illustrators, Raymond Briggs, are going on display at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. Featuring treasures from the span of his 60-year career, Bloomin' Brilliant: The Life and Work of Raymond Briggs is the first specifically curated show of its kind following Briggs' death in 2022.

Raymond Briggs has delighted generations of readers, both young and old, with his picture books, such as The Snowman, Fungus the Bogeyman, Father Christmas, and Ethel and Ernest. Now, with the help of Raymond Briggs's Archive and Penguin Random House, people visiting the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft will be able to see 30 items from his estate and over 100 original artworks in person.

Running from 27 April to 27 October, Bloomin' Brilliant: The Life and Work of Raymond Briggs joins the acclaimed and currently touring show Raymond Briggs: A Retrospective from the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration. Featuring items and objects that surrounded the author in his Sussex home, it promises to provide a deeply personal view of the renowned illustrator.

These objects include Briggs'Briggs's own writing and drawing desk, which he used for over 40 years and on which he originated some of his most famous works. In addition to their significance to the worlds of writing and illustration, these items also give a sense of who he was as a person and his playful response to his fame.

Take the framed 1993 edition of Private Eye, which features a riff on his most iconic work, or the faux blue plaque outlining his commitment to practical jokes. Or the 1997 note from his partner's granddaughter that reads 'Raymond is not a normal person', a message that would go on to appear on Briggs' gravestone. All of these treasures and more will feature in the exhibition.

His home and work lives were never separate, and this is reflected in the displayed pieces. A pair of extravagant cupboard doors featuring life-sized paintings of his parents, Ethel and Ernest, make an appearance. Meanwhile, Fungus the Bogeyman appears as a back support for a wooden chair and simply as a repurposed book advertising stand.

Elsewhere, there will be a selection of private correspondence that Briggs kept over the decades. These include letters that children wrote to him, plus a message dating back to 1975 where one adult reader admonished him for depicting Santa Claus "performing an act of personal hygiene".

There are also never-before-seen artworks, including an illustration for Father Christmas on Holiday, as well as several portraits and other illustrations that, for decades, never left his home.

Steph Fuller, director of the Ditchling Museum, said, "It has been a privilege to be invited by Raymond Briggs' estate to visit his home and select objects for this exhibition.

"Being in his studio amongst his drawing materials, family photographs and notes to self, it feels as though he might have just stepped out and could return at any moment. I hope we're able to convey something of that feeling to visitors."


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