7 September 23

The Tiger Who Came to Tea the Exhibition - Celebrating 100 Years of Judith Kerr


Judith Kerr Damien Wootten 5 (1)

Queen’s Hall is delighted to present an exhibition that will explore the life and celebrate the work of one of Britain's best known author–illustrators for children, Judith Kerr. 

Commemorating the centenary of Judith Kerr’s birth and celebrating her incredible contribution to children’s literature, The Tiger Who Came to Tea the exhibition, originated by Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, features high quality facsimiles of Judith Kerr’s original illustrations from the Seven Stories collection and promises to re-introduce the beloved picture book to a new generation of family audiences.

Judith Kerr’s first picture book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea began as a bedtime story for her own children and was published in 1968. It soon became a classic and by the time it celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008, it had been translated into 11 languages and sold over five million copies. Alongside facsimiles of original artwork, notes and sketches children will enjoy stepping into Sophie’s kitchen to have tea with a life-size tiger.

Explore Judith’s childhood and her experiences of having to escape Germany as Hitler came to power, how it felt to be a refugee in Switzerland, then France before finally settling in London in 1936. Judith writes about these experiences through three semi-autobiographical novels for older children in her Out of the Hitler Time trilogy, through the story of her alter ego Anna.  

Judith Kerr said: ‘I first told this story to my small daughter long ago. She was rather critical of my other stories but used to say, ‘Talk the tiger!’. So, when she and her brother were both at school and I had more time, I thought I would make it into a picture book – and much to my amazement, here it still is 50 years later.”

Kris Mckie, Head of Collection at Seven Stories said: “Seven Stories is honoured to be the custodian of Judith Kerr’s archive and privileged to be curator of an exhibition that celebrates her remarkable life and her outstanding contribution to children’s literature.  Visitors to Queen’s Hall will be treated to a unique opportunity to see reproductions of Judith’s precious artwork, which shows how, through a lifetime of looking and drawing, her stories have become part of our nation’s childhood.”

The exhibition gives a unique insight into Judith’s life and work, including access to childhood drawings where we discover how Judith developed into the artist and story teller we know today. Visitors can also watch a short film, featuring children from Christ Church C of E Primary School in Newcastle upon Tyne. They have investigated why the issues of conflict and displacement are as relevant today as in the 1930’s, including interviews and footage of Judith at work in her studio at home.

Kris Mckie continued: "Among the most remarkable treasures in Judith's archive, held by Seven Stories, is a sequence of childhood drawings. These fragile images depict scenes of a happy, ordinary, life seen through the eyes of a young girl (with a precocious talent for drawing!). Coupled with Judith's autobiographical writings, these give a unique insight into her life at that time, and show how - despite all the difficulties - her talent for writing and illustrating grew and grew."

Katy Taylor, Queen’s Hall Artistic Director and Chief Executive, commented: “We are thrilled to be working with Seven Stories to bring such an exciting exhibition to Hexham and look forward to welcoming visitors of all ages to our gallery space.”

The Tiger Who Came to Tea the exhibition will open in Queen’s Hall’s ground floor gallery space on Saturday 23 September and runs until Saturday 18 November. Click here for more info.

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