Paper mache cats, a letterpress and illustrations in new Hall Place exhibition

PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 May 2014 | UPDATED: 14:14 07 May 2014

Jessica Jane Charleston has made paper mache cats for the exhibition at Hall Place

Jessica Jane Charleston has made paper mache cats for the exhibition at Hall Place


An artist who writes, illustrates and makes handpress letter books will be bringing her picture book to life in an exhibition at Hall Place, Bourne Road, Bexley.

Kidnapped by cats. Copyright: Jessica Jane Charleston.Kidnapped by cats. Copyright: Jessica Jane Charleston.

As well as painstakingly creating papier-mâché models of cats to go with her original pen, ink and watercolour drawings, Jessica Jane Charleston will be appearing at Hall Place on the first Sunday of every month to read from her book and demonstrate how an Adana press works,

“I’ve only done one so far, but I’m looking forward to doing that,” she said.

“It’s been really good because people just don’t realise the amount of work and the intricate side to printing. People are always interested in doing it. I think it’s becoming more and more popular.”

Charleston said that she had noticed something of a revival in printing, and printing presses were not as readily available online as they had been when she first graduated.

“Everyone knows what they’ve got now. I think people are definitely more interested in making their own things,” she said.

Speaking about her picture book The Cat Circus, Charleston said: “I don’t see it as a book for children necessarily. This is about a woman who is a bit bored and is kidnapped by cats and taken to this circus.”

The book was created in a different way to her others.

“This one story, The Cat Circus, started from a couple of drawings really. I drew all the characters before the story was written down.

“I don’t think I have ever made a book like that before. In this one, the characters were just doodles, who became a story before the story was there.”

Her exhibition runs until August 31 and coincides with Quentin Blake’s As Large as Life exhibition.

Blake, Britain’s first Children’s Laureate, who has won countless awards, was commissioned by hospitals in the UK and abroad to produce work addressing specific hospital situations. The exhibition brings together a collection of these works.

Blake said: “I think the very presence of pictures helps to make being in, or visiting, a hospital a more normal, less alien experience.”

Charleston adds: “Everyone knows Quentin Blake. It’s amazing to be tagged on alongside this incredible, prolific worldwide illustrator – it’s an absolute honour really.”

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