Raymond Briggs: A Retrospective

The first ever retrospective of one of the most influential author-illustrators of all time – on tour at The Bowes Museum.

When, Where

  • The Bowes Museum

“[To be an illustrator] you have to be a mini actor. If the figure is to walk jauntily with its nose in the air, you have to imagine what that feels like. You have to be the person and observe the person, and do both these things at once." Raymond Briggs

Raymond Briggs: A Retrospective is the first ever exhibition dedicated to the author-illustrator behind some of the most popular and influential children’s books and graphic novels ever published. It continues its tour at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham.

This long-awaited retrospective shows never-before-seen material from Briggs’ personal archive, revealing the origins of iconic titles that have become household favourites, literary classics and international phenomena.

With original artwork from publications including his poignant picture book The Snowman (1980) and pioneering graphic novel Ethel & Ernest (1998), the exhibition celebrates Briggs as an exceptional draughtsman, typographer, storyteller and innovator.

Exhibition co-curator Katie McCurrach says: “Humorous, sensitive, and sometimes subversive, Raymond Briggs’ powerful visual stories have depicted a range of universal themes – from family and loss to politics and class – and continue to entertain, challenge and inspire readers across the world. House of Illustration is delighted to be able to show original artwork from Briggs’ 50-year career to visitors, many pieces for the very first time.

Exhibition co-curator Nicolette Jones says: “Raymond Briggs’ characters, including the first working-class Father Christmas, a punk bogeyman, a flying snowman, and his own parents, Ethel and Ernest, are familiar to us all. This exhibition traces their evolution, the development of Briggs’ style and craft, and the interconnectedness of all his books, with their recurrent themes, values and images. It also displays work that is not so widely known. I am honoured to have been invited to co-curate this revelatory show.