Quentin Blake: The Life of Birds

The first exhibition uncovering Quentin Blake’s personal drawings of birds

When, Where

"A rare chance to see a selection of original drawings by Blake and enjoy a tightly-focused exhibition dedicated to one of his most rewarding subjects"Creative Review

"Brilliantly quirky ornithology and a 'kindly but penetrating' commentary on the human condition”The Telegraph

"An exhibition of pure, quirky joy... Blake is an amused observer who pretends that his art is nothing but nonsense, but whose judgements are both shrewd and tolerant" - New York Review of Books

This exhibition, curated by Quentin Blake himself, is the first ever to examine a theme that has intrigued him throughout his career – birds.

I have always liked drawing birds. I can't quite explain why but it may be because like us, they are on two legs and have expressive gestures. It's a way of commenting on the people we see around us without actually drawing individuals.”

It will show a series of original drawings from his personal archive of birds in everyday situations, revealing a kindly but penetrating commentary on the human condition. The subtleties of the birds’ interactions show Blake’s mastery of conveying emotion through expression and gesture, a hallmark of his illustrations.

Scroll down to buy exhibition tickets.

Many of the works on show were published in Blake’s 2005 book The Life of Birds. The exhibition will also show personal drawings created since 2005 alongside illustrations for Figaro Litteraire, the weekly literary supplement to French daily newspaper Le Figaro. In the introduction to the book illustrator Peter Campbell commented:

These pictures are the product of half a century spent bringing characters to life on the page.  In The Life of Birds Blake follows the path of great illustrators – Grandville and Lear – and fabulists – Aesop and La Fontaine. Blake’s birds are more like novelists’ characters than moralist’s examples. Like Daumier, he creates individuals who are examples of, but not reduced to, types. The drawings are, by turns, insidiously charming, absurdly sad and fiercely observant. They suggest feelings about getting old, about the life of art, about the insufferability of silly people and the unpleasantness of bullies.”

The Quentin Blake Gallery at House of Illustration is the only place in the world to show a continuous but changing exhibition of Blake’s work, exploring his archive of over 35,000 drawings, most of which have never been publicly displayed. It offers a unique insight into the artistic practice of one of the world’s defining illustrators.

Buy exhibition tickets below – one ticket covers admission to all House of Illustration exhibitions that are open on the day.


Tickets Price Number Total price
Total amount £0.00
Adult ticket with gift aid£8.25 £8.25
Concession ticket with gift aid£5.50 £5.50
Child ticket with gift aid£4.40 £4.40
Family ticket with gift aid£19.80 £19.80
Adult ticket£7.50 £7.50
Concession ticket£5.00 £5.00
Child ticket£4.00 £4.00
Family ticket£18.00 £18.00

Ticket information:

Your ticket covers admission to ALL current House of Illustration exhibitions that are open on the day of your visit. Please make sure you have checked our What's On page for full details. House of Illustration is open 10:00-18:00 Tuesdays through Sundays. Final admission is at 17:30.

Please help us by choosing a ticket which includes a 10% voluntary Gift Aid donation. If you add 10% we are able to claim Gift Aid on the entire ticket price which is a huge help. If you are not a UK taxpayer please select non Gift Aid tickets.

Concessions: Senior (over 65), student, job seeker, disabled.

Child: aged 5-18. Under 5s go free (up to four per parent or guardian)

Family: Up to 2 adults and 3 children under 18

Any paying disabled visitor can be accompanied by their carer free of charge.

These tickets will grant entry to all galleries that are open on the day of your visit.
Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferrable. All tickets sales subject to our general terms and conditions.

Gift Aid
Gift Aid admissions allow us to reclaim tax on the full value of the ticket price, as well as the donation. This means an extra 25p in each pound. 
If purchasing more than one ticket at the Gift Aid price the additional tickets must be for family members.
By selecting Gift Aid tickets you are confirming you are a UK taxpayer and that you are paying income tax and/or capital gains tax at least equal to the amount of tax that all charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs you donate to will reclaim on your gifts for each tax year (6 April to 5 April). Council tax and VAT do not qualify.