Golden era of childhood design celebrated in Bexhill

Ladybird exhibition at de la warr pavilion to celebrate 100th year of this children's classic in illustration
Ladybird exhibition at de la warr pavilion to celebrate 100th year of this children's classic in illustration

For some of us there can be no more powerful image of childhood than the cover of a Ladybird book and memories of distant hours spent pouring over pages and illustrations.

Ladybird is now in its centenary year and the exhibition at the DLWP is a celebration of the ‘golden era’ from the 1950s-1970’s, with 200 original illustrations on display which should have viewers drifting back to thoughts of their formative years - whether they are of the Watch With Mother generation or Blue Peter with Val Singleton at the helm.

The exhibition has been curated with Lawrence Zeegan, taking its title from his new book, and launches offically tomorrow at 3pm.

The success of Ladybird was down to format and distinctive design as much as writing, and the books present a snapshot of their time through illustration. Ladybird’s full-colour, full-page images were often created by well-known illustrators such as Charles Tunnicliffe (What To Look For titles, series 536), Harry Wingfield (Shopping with Mother, series 563, and Key Words, series 641), Martin Aitchison (Key Words titles), Eric Winter and Robert Lumley (Well-loved Tales, series 606d), John Berry (People at Work, series 606b) and Robert Ayton (Great Inventions and The Story of Oil, series 601).

The exhibition is divided into different sections exploring themes such as environment, or history and achievement, and as people enter the gallery they will be met with the sight of 600 books on the walls facing the sea window, which will be a stunning reminder of the sheer depth and variety of what Ladybird has offered through the decades. And it has been diverse - Ladybird has dipped its toe in culture, science, magic tricks, car mechanics and natural life as well as inspiring children to learn more about their own everyday life, such as visits to the grocer or what to look out for in the great outdoors.

It’s obvious that the exhibition will be of interest to locals as well as visitors and co-curator Jane Won is looking forward to seeing their reaction, hoping they will be “awed” by the impact of the artworks as much as their nostalgic relationship with childhood.

DLWP director Stewart Drew commented: “We are thrilled to have worked in partnership with Lawrence Zeegan and Ladybird to present this stunning show which has already attracted a huge amount of national press coverage.

As with the Pavilion, Ladybird holds a very special place in people’s hearts and memories and we hope that people will enjoy the exhibition and share some of their stories with us in the weeks to come.”