Illustrators David McMillan, Jayde Perkin and Ed Cheverton have joined forces in their first collaborative project curating the first ‘Toys Exhibition’. They have got over 30 contemporary illustrators on board to create artwork, imagery and 3D objects in an interactive exhibition celebrating all things playful and fun. All profits from the sale of work go to the Wallace & Gromit Grand Appeal Charity, supporting the Bristol Childrens Hospital. Find out more in our interview with Dave, Jaybde and Ed on this brilliant and heartwarming project.
Did you give the artists and illustrators a brief for what you wanted them to design or was it quite open?
Not really, it was quite an open brief. All we knew was we wanted an eclectic mix of 3D and printed work that was, at the very heart of it – fun. The artists we selected were all people we either knew would fit the show perfectly, or were people whose work we loved and really wanted to see translated into 3D. There was also the added option of making it interactive. People like Jamie Jones or Adam Avery & Lily Alden with their Blockopolis piece blew us away with these intricate puzzles that perfectly translated their work into 3D. You can’t help but want to touch and play with them. We wanted the artists to get out of their comfort zone, especially the three of us curating the show (Jayde, Ed & Dave). The show was a real way for us to play with something we hadn’t done before, both in curation and illustration.
The exhibition has only just opened, but have you had a good response from the public so far?
We’ve had a fantastic response from the public so far. The opening night was busier than we could’ve imagined and we’ve had lots of people having to come back to see everything again. Bristol has a great creative community who have supported us and especially the online community has really taken to the show. I think the ideas and pure fun of the work really resonates with people. We’ve had people come specifically to Bristol just to see it. We’ve also had the great pleasure of having Anorak and Wrap magazine sponsor us. Both are amazing promoters of illustration and have really helped to boost the publicity of the show.
Have you found children have been excited by the handmade and tactile products of the show, in a society where a lot of toys are now digitally based?
Children that have come in really love the colorfulness of the space and it’s definitely hard to walk past a big room of toys without wanting to come in and play with them. We had a full day of Children’s Workshops on Saturday 15th in partnership with Anorak Magazine, Jazz Dad Books and the Bristol Children’s Scrapstore who donated a huge amount of free material. The workshop sessions (3D Exqisite Corpse Games and Instrument Making) were very hands-on, tactile workshops. The kids were excited to turn their drawings into 3D creations or make loud, creative instruments. With phones and tablets being used so much by children now for both gaming and reading, it is nice to get them interacting with tactile objects. We found they really responded to it. The satisfaction, and excitement of creating something from nothing and being allowed to go wild and create. You can’t loose that joy of physically making something.
How did you get involved in supporting The Wallace & Gromit Appeal?
We always wanted to do it for a children’s charity. The theme of the show almost dictated that, and we felt that, especially with the show being on around Christmas, we wanted to help give back to children who were less fortunate at this time of year. Christmas is such a tough time for families, and it felt like the natural decision for the money made from selling our own hand-made toys to go towards helping and supporting families, and giving children toys. The Grand Appeal do amazing work here in Bristol, and are a wonderful charity, and we wanted to support them in every way we could.
Is this the first project you have run, and do you plan on taking it around the country or doing anymore?
We’ve all worked on projects/ exhibitions separately before, but this is the first creative endeavour we’ve worked on the three of us; and we make a good team! It’s been a lot of work, but with the wonderful response we’ve received, it really has made it all worth it. You get a real buzz from connecting with people like this, it makes you want to do more. It’s incredibly humbling and great to work with your favourite illustrators in this way. We’ve all been talking about touring it in some form, either in London or further afield. I think we are all going to have a rest first and work on our own illustrations, then we’ll see.
The exhibition runs until Saturday 22nd November so be sure to make a visit if you can!