Neal Layton news

I’m very proud to have my work on show at Seven Stories in Newcastle at the moment, as part of Drawing Words, a travelling exhibition showcasing work from 10 various illustrators from the U.K.

Stanley's Stick

Preparatory artworks from Stanley’s Stick. Photo by Courtney Huck


Journalist student Courtney Huck wrote a short piece about the exhibition below…

Drawing Words, an exhibition currently being featured by Seven Stories, differs from past exhibits shown by the Children’s Book Museum by encouraging children to locate their inner illustrator.

The exhibition features multiple activity spaces resembling a pop-up book. Children can easily move or crawl between different “worlds.” In each space, children are encouraged to create a drawing relating to that specific story. 

Curated by the Children’s Laurate, Lauren Child, the traveling exhibition showcases work from 10 various illustrators from the U.K., including Neal Layton, who received his BA in Graphic Design in Newcastle. 

The traveling section of the exhibit focuses on the illustrators’ published works and includes a short quote from each artist about where they find their inspiration. Exclusively for the exhibition at Seven Stories, the museum collaborated with Cumbria-based artist Hannah Fox to incorporate the playscape activity centers along with original drawings from the illustrators. 

Layton selected illustrations from ‘Stanley’s Stick,’ and decided with Seven Stories to show “working drawings from that book, alongside finished illustrations, so children might better understand the process of making a book.” 

He commented that, “it almost feels like I’m giving something back after all these years.” 

While Drawing Words has seen visitor’s enjoyment of the space, operations manager Jayne Nicholson admits she had to take some time to wrap her head around the more “organic nature” of the exhibit. Nicholson said the display is all about exploring and children discovering what they can do at different stations, even if that means coloring on the walls. 

“At first we were alarmed because it’s an exhibition,” Nicholson said. “But that’s where more of the ‘organic feel’ comes in. We wouldn’t expect that upstairs in Elmer because it’s very precious artwork, so it’s a different vibe going on.” 

Nicholson said story catchers are imperative in facilitating the interpretations that comes across for each collection. 

Charlotte Brumby, a nine-year story catcher, said Drawing Words has been different than other showcases she’s worked with because of its focus on children drawing, whereas most other exhibits at Seven Stories encourage parents to read books to their children. Brumby said “when I’ve taken school groups through, there have been several that really loved the drawing aspect and they got really into it. They’ve clearly been inspired by the works and the words around them.” 


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