Sir Quentin Blake has returned to the Jerwood Gallery with an exclusive new exhibition, Life Under Water – A Hastings Celebration.

The celebrated illustrator and first Children’s Laureate has created 24 new works that combine the vitality and vibrancy of the famous, historic town and the sea that defines it.

With his fluid, energetic brushwork, Quentin captures the vitality of the land, but sets it beneath the waves. Hence pirates swirl merrily around in the briny with dogs chasing sticks, children playing on the beach, street performers, Morris dancers and fish.

Although he is most famous for his collaboration with Roald Dahl and illustrating children’s books, Quentin says: “It’s not an exhibition for children, even though it’s one that they won’t have any difficulty with, and it’s not a collection of drawings by me that the Jerwood happens to be putting on. I have created it specifically for the gallery and the works won’t appear anywhere else.”

Quentin Blake. Photo by Pete Jones

Quentin Blake. Photo by Pete Jones

Jerwood Director, Liz Gilmore is delighted to host a new, larger show following last year’s successful Quentin Blake: Artists on the Beach. She said: “He’s one of Hastings’s treasures and there was an overwhelming public response to his show at the Jerwood Gallery last summer. This gave impetus to a conversation with him to make a larger show of original works specifically about Hastings.

“Quentin took that and sought his inspiration from under the sea, for this beachside gallery. Many aspects of the Hastings calendar, such as the traditional May Day ‘Jack in the Green’ Festival, are pictured under water in his characteristically humorous and touching style.”

All the works are exclusively available for sale through Jerwood Gallery for £3,000 each. There will also be a wide range of products for sale through shop, including prints of the original drawings. A percentage of the profit will go towards supporting the future artistic programme of Jerwood Gallery, which is an independent, not-for-profit organisation.

Quentin Blake: Life Under Water – A Hastings Celebration runs from 2 July to 6 September. Visit Jerwood Gallery or call 01424 728377 for more details.