What To Look For


In the days leading up to our recent trip to the “finest seaside resort in Western Europe” I stumbled across this piece over on the BBC’s website talking about an exhibition on the inordinately talented illustrator Charles Tunnicliffe. Usually when I come across news like this the exhibition in question tends to be happening in some far flung corner of the kingdom, however by thankful coincidence our time in North Wales happened to be planned with almost perfect timing, seeing us arrive within reaching distance shortly after the exhibition opened.

So through a short spell of driving rain (during what was an otherwise unremittingly warm and sunshine heavy week) Mrs Weir and I travelled across Thomas Telford’s famous bridge into Anglesey to Oriel Ynys Mon, Anglesey’s Centre for Art and History, to pay homage to “the greatest wildlife artist of the twentieth century”.

Although many consider Tunnicliffe to be a very fine illustrator his work isn’t perhaps as well known as it should be, however if you’re as fond of the publishers Wills & Hepworth and their Ladybird books as I am you’ll know him for four of the most popular editions from the 536 series – namely What To Look For In Spring, What To Look For In Summer, What To Look For In Autumn and of course What To Look For In Winter.  

The exhibition featured a wide variety of Tunnicliffe’s work – with much of it being inspired by the island he made his home in 1947 – and included a number of initial sketches, measured works (he was nothing if not meticulous in his research), and finished artwork from some of the many books that he contributed to – including most importantly (for me at least) an abundance of examples from the What To Look For set supplied directly from Ladybird Books and the Reading University archive.

Plainly Charles Tunnnicliffe’s contribution to the art world was significant, however his illustrations for Ladybird Books were perhaps even more so given his role in educating generations of children and young people about the world around them. So if you’re in or around Anglesey I’d highly recommend a visit to the exhibition to see the work on show, and to perhaps remind yourself, what to look for.

Somewhat coincidentally as I was writing this I stumbled across this documentary on BBC Radio 4 Extra, originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 back in 2001.

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