Rachel Lillie: setting up

The week before our grand opening is full of movement, writes illustrator in residence Rachel Lillie

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  • Illustrator in Residence

It's been another busy week - with so much going on in the House.

We of course had the Illustrators' Fair on Sunday, which was a great day and a great success! On the Saturday as I was setting up an installation of my work 'So Far...' I was able to do a few very quick drawings capturing the yard being set up. It was a very late evening for all involved in the set-up but all worthwhile! During the fair I did a short talk on my residency so far - which pushed me to really reflect on all I had achieved up until now. Sifting through the hundreds of drawings I have collected I realised that it is through these drawings, through embracing intuition, through looking and really observing a situation that you gain a true understanding. And it is by both doing and drawing that ideas come about. So that is what I continue to do in documenting all the events taking place at House of Illustration.

I feel the word that has been on the forefront of my mind this week is movement.

I've been continuing to document the builders hard at work, and continuing with the challenge of capturing their every move. I'm trying to think less of these drawings as illustrations but rather note-taking and capturing an essence. The builders also discovered the drawings and photographs I had pasted to the wall of the smallest room in the house. It was a really lovely moment to find them crowded round and hearing their reactions. Later that day one of the builders, Majcek, took a photo on his phone of a pile of dust that he thought I would like and the painter Gregory did a drawing too:

While the construction of the entrance and shop continues, inside the finished galleries the installation of Quentin's exhibition is in full flow. I wanted to draw the gallery space in that period of transition; being there as the frames of Quentin's works arrived and were hung on the freshly painted walls. It was so fascinating to watch, and quite meditative - it was great to draw the repeated movements of the people doing the hanging, the precision of their task and the intensity of the moment. At times the drawings make them look as though they're doing a performance.

I want to document every side of the House of Illustration's story. Yesterday I spent the day drawing at John Jones, the framers that have made all of Quentin's frames, and what a place! I drew from the moment the raw timber arrived to the point of gilding and finishing and everything in between! I couldn't believe the scale of the place and all the processes and people involved. Seeing the wood being transformed from something so natural and raw to this object of craft and perfection blew my mind. And now it's on our walls and framing Quentin's beautiful drawings - ready for next week!