What’s your favourite animal, book, food or weather? These are just some of the questions that are answered by an eclectic group of well-known personalities from the worlds of fashion, illustration, journalism (and more) in a series of delightfully quirky, intriguing and often humorous pictures on display at Manchester Art Gallery
The original idea for the exhibition, called What Are You Like? and curated by the House of Illustration, was taken from a Victorian game in which you draw pictures of your favourite things to create a cryptic self-portrait. For this exhibition, 45 people in the public eye were asked to illustrate eight favourite things from a list of twelve, in order to create a self-portrait.
Contributors were asked about their favourite animal, book, clothes, comfort, food, pastime, place, possession, music, shoes, weather and their pet aversion. The contributors to the exhibition were all selected for having the skills to express themselves visually, and were encouraged to use whatever medium they most enjoy. Among the famous people whose work appears in the exhibition are: Andrew Marr, Anna Ford, Brian Eno, Eric Clapton, Eric Carle, Jack Penate, Jan Pienkowski, Sir Paul Smith and Shirley Hughes.
The resulting works are diverse in style: from Quentin Blake’s instantly recognisable pen and ink drawings of people and Shirley Hughes’ enchanting watercolours to Lauren Child’s unique combination of text, drawing and collage and a series of polaroid photographs by portrait and fashion photographer Mary McCartney.
For families looking for entertainment this summer, a drawing station is provided in the exhibition too, where people of all ages create their own self-portrait pictures of their favourite things. For those who can’t decide which question to answer first, there’s even a giant dice to roll with different “favourite things” categories on each face. And with a special Visitors’ Gallery in the exhibition, visitors can add their own drawings to the display alongside the official works.
Councillor Mike Amesbury, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Leisure said: “Many families will be looking for affordable ways to entertain the kids this summer, and being free entry, Manchester Art Gallery is a great, family-friendly day out. The gallery has a packed programme of family activities planned for the summer, and by combining a visit to this exhibition with some of the daily activities, you should find there’s plenty to keep the kids happy for several hours.”
What Are You Like? is at Manchester Art Gallery from 4 July – 31 August 2009.