How illustrator Quentin Blake's one-of-a-kind art work will help improve lives in West Yorkshire

Distinctive and instantly recognisable, the writer and illustrator Quentin Blake’s drawings have given some of children’s literature’s most beloved characters their visual identities.

His work is synonymous of the books of Roald Dahl and he has also illustrated children's books for David Williams and Dr Seuss, as well as those he has written himself.

And now he has donated a one-off piece of work to support a much-loved West Yorkshire community arts organisation to help it continue on its mental health and well being mission.

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Pictured Artworks director, John Ross, with Sir Quentin Blake's donated piece entitled 'The Collector' - which depicts a man striding downhill with his dogs and an overflowing knapsack. Photo credit: James Hardisty / JPIMediaResell

The Artworks, based in Halifax is a teaching space, gallery and artist studios that has been significantly affected during the pandemic. It's director John Ross, was one of Blake's students.

Entitled The Collector, the piece Blake has donate depicts a man striding downhill with his dogs and an overflowing knapsack.

Blake, who joined Artworks as a patron in 2017, said: "I draw almost every day of the year and really appreciate the profound effect that it can have on mental health and general wellbeing, particularly during periods of strife.

"Artworks aims to connect as many people as possible with the healing powers of art and inspire the next generation of artists.

The Artworks, in Halifax, has the ethos of being open to all, and championing the value of art and creativity in everyday life. Over the years, a key focus of their work has been using art to support mental health and wellbeing. Photo credit: James Hardisty / JPIMediaResell

"It’s a privilege to be associated with such an inspiring institution and I’m delighted that I’m able to support the organisation to continue its important work during these challenging times."

The Artworks has the ethos of being open to all, and championing the value of art and creativity in everyday life. Over the years, a key focus of their work has been using art to support mental health and wellbeing.

The orgainsation runs a programme of creative activity designed to connect people with art in its various forms, including free and subsidised workshops for people with lived experience of mental ill health and those on low incomes.

Mr Ross, the Artworks director said the donation would go a long way in supporting the Halifax-based arts project continue to be accessible to all, irrespective of financial circumstances, during a challenging year.

Pictured, John Ross with the donated artwork.

He said: “Like so many organisations in our sector, 2020 has been a very difficult year for our school for all the obvious reasons and our future is looking far from secure.

“A massive thank you then to Quentin for donating to Artworks this important drawing which will hopefully enable us to raise critical funding in this desperate time."

The original drawing will be auctioned privately, while twenty-five signed prints of The Collector will go on sale at 9am today (11 November) on Artworks website, as well as the opportunity to win a signed print through a raffle-style competition here: www.theartworks.org.uk/thecollector.

An illustrious career

Pictured John Ross, director of Artworks in Halifax. Photo credit: James Hardisty / JPIMediaResell

Sir Quentin Blake is acknowledged as one of Britain’s greatest living artists.

He became Britain’s first children’s laureate from 1999 to 2001, and has also won the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest accolade available to creators of children’s books.

In the 1970s he was an occasional presenter of the children’s story-telling programme Jackanory, when he would illustrate the stories on a canvas as he was telling them.

Blake has also illustrated poetry collections by Michael Rosen as well as creating his own characters including Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage.

In the past 15 or so years, his work has moved into public spaces: he has drawn murals for hospitals all over London as well as in Sheffield.

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