Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Channel Tunnel opening and the Book ‘The Tunnel/Le Tunnel’ by Brian Wildsmith.

Barnsley Museums showcases the work of the acclaimed children's book illustrator, artist and author and his tribute to the engineering marvel that is the Channel Tunnel.


Thirty years ago, the Channel Tunnel, the longest undersea tunnel in the world, was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II and President François Mitterrand. To commemorate this historic event, which took place on the 6 May, 1994, the renowned children's book illustrator and author Brian Wildsmith created a book that celebrated this engineering feat and the cultural exchanges it enabled.


In this book, written in both English and French, two cousin moles, one French, one English, come up with a brilliant plan to dig a tunnel that connects the two countries, so that they can meet up. While no longer in print, The Tunnel features stunning illustrations that capture the imagination of young and old alike. It is now on display in Barnsley Museums as part of an exciting new exhibition.


At The World of Brian Wildsmith, visitors can see illustrations from The Tunnel/Le Tunnel for the first time, as well as other works by the Barnsley-born artist who is widely regarded as one of the most influential and original creators of children's books in the 20th century.


The exhibition, which is on display until January 2025, showcases the rich and diverse legacy of Wildsmith. From his award-winning ABC book to his illustrations of animals, fairy tales, and biblical stories, the exhibition is a feast of colour and creativity that will inspire future artists and illustrators alike.


Brian was one of the innovators of a new and creative style of illustration for children's books. An illustrator’s illustrator, his books have been translated into more than 30 languages and have received many awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal. This is the first time that his work, which has come to the UK from France, has been presented in this way and most of it for the first time.


The ‘World of Brian Wildsmith’ includes two exhibitions both of which are a unique opportunity to discover the life and work of a major and beloved children's book illustrator of the 20th century. They take place across two of Barnsley Museums Town Centre locations, Experience Barnsley Museum, and the Cooper Gallery. Bright, colourful and eye catching, they are sure to encourage future generations of artists, illustrators and authors. The exhibitions are the result of a collaboration between Barnsley Museums and the Wildsmith family, who have been planning this exhibition for more than six years. The family have generously shared many of Brian's original artworks, personal items, and unpublished materials.


In the exhibitions, people will be able to view a variety of Brian's amazing work, from his early experiments with colour and texture to his later abstract and collage works, as well as learning more about Brian's upbringing in Barnsley, his influences and inspirations, and his impact as a pioneer of children's literature and art.


Jon Finch, Head of Culture and Visitor Economy, said: "The Channel Tunnel is a remarkable feat of engineering that connects two nations and cultures. We are proud that the book, created to mark its inauguration three decades ago, is now on display in Barnsley, Brian’s hometown. His vibrant and imaginative artworks will delight and inspire visitors of all ages. We would love for you to explore Brian’s world through the spectacular exhibitions at the Experience Barnsley Museum and the Cooper Gallery.”


The exhibition is free to enter and to find out more visit www.barnsley-museums.com


For more information about The Tunnel visit https://www.brianwildsmith.com/the-tunnel

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