Illuminate! was part of the British Library’s Spring Festival, a celebration of creativity, fashion and design. For one night only, the vast atrium was taken over by an exhibition of 40 of the UK’s most celebrated artists and illustrators.
It’s always odd to have to wait to get into a venue that is usually open to the public. Crowded, outside the British Library, it was clear that the event had attracted a young, hip crowd (we were probably the oldest people there).
The space inside was completely transformed, no mean feat given the size of the atrium. Mr Scruff provided the musical backdrop and some projected visuals. There was a busy bar with beer and snacks so we fueled up and began our evening’s viewing.
The skull of a lion (found at Tower of London), Henry VIII’s prayer-scroll, and countless beautifully adorned manuscripts and bibles. Just stunning.
The space was filled with a display of illustrations by some very impressive names, Posy Simmonds and Jamie Hewlett amongst them. Dotted around were drop-in life-drawing classes (with clothed models), typography workshops, printing and painting, digital graffiti, and all sorts of other stuff.
But the highlight, for me, was a chance for a proper look round the Royal Manuscripts exhibition. The skull of a lion (found at Tower of London), Henry VIII¹s prayer-scroll, and countless beautifully adorned manuscripts and bibles. Just stunning.
Assuming that the Spring Festival is their way of putting themselves on the map, alongside the newly opened University of the Arts, the British Library team have done a wonderful job.