How To Hide A Lion

As Keeper of Fine Art I love working at The Bowes Museum but as a mummy I love nothing more than snuggling up with my little girl and reading her a bedtime story. One of my daughter’s favourite books is Helen Stephens’  ‘The Big Adventure of the Smalls’. It is a wonderful story full of fun and adventure. Helen Stephens’ beautiful illustrations which are inspired by the grand architecture of The Bowes Museum and its magnificent collections really bring the story alive.

Sally & Paul Small from 'The Big Adventure of the Smalls'
Sally & Paul Small from ‘The Big Adventure of the Smalls’

I was incredibly excited when I heard that we were going to have an exhibition of Helen’s books and illustrations at the Museum. Helen has written a number of other wonderful books which my daughter also loves.

Making a penguin from 'The Night Iceberg'
Making a penguin from ‘The Night Iceberg’

The exhibition ‘How to Hide a Lion’ opened on 26 October so I rushed along with my daughter to take a look. The exhibition is great for any budding young storytellers, artists or illustrators out there as it traces the development of Helen’s books from an initial idea through to the finished book. The drawings in Helen’s books are full of life and have so many small details that my daughter and I love to pick out when we read the stories.  I especially loved looking at Helen’s sketchbooks, which she takes everywhere with her. You can see how the characters in her books have developed from the first drawing she made in her sketchbook through to the final illustrations.

You can have your photo taken with the lion
You can have your photo taken with the lion

There are lots of fun activities to try in the gallery. My daughter enjoyed sitting at the banquet table and hosting a feast just like the one in ‘The Big Adventure of the Smalls’ and making a penguin inspired by ‘The Night Iceberg’. There are also lots of other fun things to do including a ‘How to Hide a Lion’ trail, light box drawing, dressing up.

Recreating the banquet from 'The Big Adventure of The Smalls'
Recreating the banquet from ‘The Big Adventure of The Smalls’

My daughter and I were lucky enough to come along to one of the storytime events that are being held during the exhibition. The education team read ‘Fleabag’ and my little girl was mesmerised.  She loved taking part in the accompanying craft activity and now has her very own fleabag and house to keep him in.

Making Fleabag and his house
Making Fleabag and his house

I’d highly recommend the exhibition which is on until 9 February 2014 as it will certainly keep the kids amused on a cold and wet winter’s day. I even managed to get a head start on my Christmas shopping as I’ve purchased copies of Helen’s books for friends and family from the Museum Shop.

By Emma House, Keeper of Fine Art

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