London Unveiled

great places to visit off the beaten path.

House of Illustration

House of Illustration sign

As one of the newer entrants on the London scene, House of Illustration is, as its name suggests, the home for the art of illustration. From emerging talent to established artists - past and present, British and international.  While the exhibition space is small, the current exhibit at time of writing on Quentin Blake was excellent (it ends early November 2014).   Anyone who has enjoyed Blake’s work, especially in Roald Dahl books, should try to catch the show before it closes.  Exhibitions will change throughout the year.  I found the interconnection between story and image well explained and fascinating.  The difference between ‘illustration’ and ‘cartoon’ is clear if you also visit the Cartoon Museum (click here for my post on the Cartoon Museum).  Regardless of your interest in illustration, if you haven’t visited this area recently and viewed the transformation of the Goods Yard complex, then this should be a must do place to go.

Quentin Blake exhibit

Quentin Blake exhibit

A Recent History:  In 2002, well know illustrators Quentin Blake and Emma Chichester Clark founded the House of Illustration to which Blake pledged his archives of over 4000 drawings and 250 books.  Without a home, the House of Illustration showcased its new collection initially at Somerset House and then on a national tour.  Other leading illustrators joined the cause, including David Gentleman.  Highly recognized ambassadors for the institution supported the goal to find a permanent home, including Philip Pullman and Peter Capaldi.  Then in the summer of 2014, House of Illustration opened their first permanent within the King’s Cross regeneration area.   Today House of Illustration’s gallery and education space is the place to see, learn about, and enjoy illustration in all its forms, from adverts to animation, picture books to political cartoons and scientific drawings to fashion design.

The main exhibition room

The main exhibition room

Regeneration:  The successful refurbishment of Two Granary Sq, where House of Illustration is located, was completed in January 2014.  The building, which is 160 years old, has had new life breathed into it through the creation of open plan floors but whilst keeping much of the original character. The Art Fund now occupy the upper floors of the building. The House of Illustration is located in the ground floor and lower ground floor.

2 Granary Square

2 Granary Square

The main building adjacent to Two Granary Square is The Goods Yard complex, designed by Lewis Cubitt and completed in 1852. The complex comprised the Granary Building, the Train Assembly Shed, and the Eastern and Western Transit Sheds. The buildings were aligned to the axis of the Copenhagen tunnel through which the trains arrived from the north.

The Granary building was mainly used to store Lincolnshire wheat for London’s bakers, while the sheds were used to transfer freight from or to the rail carts. Off-loading from the rail carriages was made easier by cranes and turntables powered by horses and, from the 1840s, hydraulic power. Loaded and unloaded carts were moved in to the Train Assembly Shed and formed into trains for departure northwards. Stables were located under the loading platforms – some of these remain in the Western Transit Shed.  In the 1860s, offices were added on either side of the Granary to provide more clerical workspace.   After a very successful regeneration effort the Granary Building is now how to Central Saint Martins, part of the University of the Arts London.  The Western Transit Shed is now office space.

house illustration 2

Events:  On a regular basis there are Friday tours, special presentations and exhibits.  For a full list visit

Illustration House

Visiting:  Open 10am - 6pm Tues - Sun.  Admission: £7.00; concessions and discounts available.  There is a small gift shop with books, cards and exhibit related items.

Located at:  2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4BH

Closest Transit:  King’s Cross

9 comments on “House of Illustration

  1. Anna Little
    October 28, 2014

    Looks fascinating! I had no idea this existed. May I reblog it?

  2. Anna Little
    October 28, 2014

    Reblogged this on Four Kids, One Mom Travel London and commented:
    An interesting look at London’s House of Illustration, by Ian at London Unveiled

  3. londonisyouroyster
    October 31, 2014

    Interesting! I’ll put it on my to do list

  4. Beachbums1
    November 3, 2014

    Adding to the never-ending list. Hope it’s OK for me to reblogg as well.

  5. Beachbums1
    November 3, 2014

    Reblogged this on Displaced Beachbums and commented:
    Don’t know how I missed this gem of a place while in London but I’ve added it to the list for our next visit…

      November 3, 2014

      You are always welcome to reblog any of my posts. Not sure whether or not to apologize for giving you new additions to your never-ending list!!! Ian.

  6. joyofmaps
    November 4, 2014

    Reblogged this on mapsworldwide blog and commented:
    Great Cof E illustration at the end of this piece!

  7. Tim Girarde
    November 22, 2014

    Another gem!

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This entry was posted on October 28, 2014 by in Artistic Venues, Camden, Family Activities, Historic Buildings and tagged , , .

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