EVENTS Brian Wildsmith Exhibition

Paul Morton and Illustrator Coordinator Tita Berredo went to Barnsley for the opening of the Brian Wildsmith Exhibition. There they met fellow scoobies for a tour that followed a chat with the Wildmisth's (now adult) children. Paul tells us all about it, and Tita shows a bit of the Wildsmith’s world in a video.

In April this year a fantastic double exhibition opened in my home town of Barnsley. It represents the life and work of one of my all time favourite illustrators, Barnsley born Brian Wildsmith. I’ve written previously for W&P (see links below) about how this prolific book illustrator influenced my early career. In fact, though a generation apart, we attended the same art school and subsequently I discovered that we even lived on the same street.

Through my research I made contact with Brian’s family, and they told me they were bringing Brian’s work back to Barnsley for a landmark retrospective. I wanted to ensure that we marked the occasion to celebrate this unprecedented double show.

When organising a social event in your home town it makes you inspect everything with a ‘tourist’s eye’, but I was proud of what the town had recently achieved. This was rewarded by a good showing of some 14 members who arrived from France, Glasgow, Somerset, London and beyond.

We had the very privileged position of securing our own private viewings. This began with an in-person Q&A with members of the Wildsmith family. The session gave a fascinating insight into the background of his life and work. The shows were held in two venues: the Barnsley Experience Museum showed his life and early career - ‘Coming Home’. Then there was the illustration exhibition over at the Cooper Gallery.

Brian died in 2016 in his adopted home of France. During a 60 year career he had over 80 books published. His incredibly colourful and creative ABC won him the prestigious Kate Greenaway Award in 1962. There are currently some 20 plus books still in print including the brand new edition Paws, Claws, Tails and Roars, published by Oxford University Press. I’ve written before how Brian was perfectly placed to ride the wave of the new four colour printing technology that arrived in the 1960’s. Remarkably his work looks as fresh, vibrant and modern today as it did 60 years ago. What a dramatic effect it must have had at the time.

Brian’s family, son Simon, daughters Clare and Rebecca, have also collated a breathtaking selection of his work, reproduced on a variety of quality merchandise. The prints so striking that they could easily be mistaken for the original artworks.

These exhibitions have been extended and will now run throughout the rest of this year. They are admirably supported by a plethora of school art competitions, a giant Brian Wildsmith tiger mural, fun mask making, animal ABC art and much more.

Double click to watch video on full screen.

Well worth a long indulgent visit! Click
here for the Cooper Gallery website.

Check out other Words & Pictures' articles about Brian Wildsmith

Books of Brian Wildsmith

Inspirations From the Bookshelf

Paul's Inspiration

Watch here the PGTips podcast review of Paws and Claws.

*Video Credit Tita Berredo.   *Header photo - Brian Wildsmith files


Paul Morton runs Hot Frog Graphics illustration and design studio and is the author of Bug Belly – Babysitting Trouble. His second book Bug Bully – Froggy Rescue was published in 2021. Find Paul at Hot Frog Graphics website and on Twitter @paulhotfrog

Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. She has a Master's degree in Children's Literature and Illustration from Goldsmiths UOL, and a background in social communications, marketing and publicity.

Follow @titaberredo on Instagram and Twitter



  1. Thanks Paul, I LOVE Brian Wildsmiths art - it was such a treat to watch the vid!

    1. That was me, Jan Carr - not anonymous! Interesting - the 'encouragement' to leave a comment is still my words!


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