EVENTS Myths and Monsters

Myths and Monsters, an exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, is aptly named — it encapsulates so much of what we love in children’s literature. Words & Pictures’ Deputy Editor Fran Price visited.


What is it?

It’s a celebration of children’s book illustration aimed at ‘children of all ages’ from pre-schoolers to young adults. But, with more than 20 of our best known children’s writers and illustrators on show, any enthusiast of children’s book illustration will be enthralled.

Who’s in it?
  • Michael Foreman – War Boy, Stubby and The Littlest Dinosaur
  • Cressida Cowell – How to Train Your Dragon
  • Victoria Topping – Mythologica: An encyclopedia of gods, monsters and mortals from ancient Greece
  • Chris Mould – The Iron Man
  • Pénélope Bagieu – The Witches: The Graphic Novel
  • Axel Scheffler – The Gruffalo and other Julia Donaldson books
And many more.

What’s in it?

Visitors are promised a motley crew of characters, from Iron Man and fearsome dragons to monsters in underpants and a beast on a bike. There are also several larger-than-life 3D exhibits and a corner where a video on a loop shows author and illustrator Kristina Stephenson talking us through how to make our very own monster to keep in a jar.

The selection is so impressive and comprehensive that it isn’t possible to cover all the illustrations here — let alone the companion exhibition of wonderful ceramics decorated with mythical creatures by Bronwyn Williams-Ellis — but here are a few of my favourites…

1. Beast on a Bike, from The Lonely Beast, written and illustrated by Chris Judge (Andersen Press).

2. Beast Meets the Yeti, from The Snow Beast, written and illustrated by Chris Judge (Andersen Press).



2. Cave Monsters, from Monsters Love Underpants, written by Claire Freedman and illustrated by Ben Cort (Simon and Schuster UK).

3. Scylla the Monster and Hyperion’s Cattle, from The Iliad and the Odyssey, written and illustrated by Marcia Williams (Walker Books).

4. Cloud Horse, from Guardians of Magic: The Cloud Horse Chronicles, written and illustrated by Chris Riddell (Macmillan).


5. Greater Giants, from the Wizards of Once: Never and Forever, written and illustrated by Cressida Cowell (Hachette).


6. Chris Mould’s sketchbook for The Iron Man, written by Ted Hughes and illustrated by Chris Mould (Faber).


7. Children!!! (top) and Your Magnificence! (bottom), from The Witches: The Graphic Novel, written and illustrated by Pénélope Bagieu (Gallimard Jeunesse), based on The Witches by Roald Dahl.


8. Pages from Mythologica, written by Steven Kershaw, illustrated by Victoria Topping, (Wide Eyed Editions). (Picture credit: Victoria Art Gallery, Bath & North East Somerset Council)

Myths and Monsters
is at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, until 27th February 2022. Tickets cost £6 for adults and £2 children (6-18). Children under 6 go free. Tickets should be booked in advance. Find more info and book here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a monster. Just need to find those jam jars…

*Header image: courtesy of Victoria Art Gallery, Bath & North East Somerset Council. All other photos, except pages from Mythologica, by Fran Price.


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