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Renowned illustrator Arthur Rackham celebrated in Sussex

Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill novel illustrated by Rackham

THE life and work of one of Britain’s most renowned illustrators is to be celebrated by the University of Chichester next month.

Arthur Rackham, best known for his impressions of Alice in Wonderland and the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, is to be remembered at a series of events in September to coincide with the 150-year anniversary of his birth. The celebrations of the artist, who lived between 1867 and 1939, include an exhibition of his Sussex-inspired works as well as a symposium and musical performance by students.

The events have been organised by the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, based at the University, which provides a forum for writers and scholars to study mythology and other traditional stories.

Researcher Victoria Leslie said: “Rackham’s iconic depictions of fairies, goblins, witches, and anthropomorphic trees mix studies from life and nature to create an unsurpassed landscape of the fantastic. His inimitable style and vision influenced the likes of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, and his illustrations for many of our best-loved fairy tales and fables have become definitive.”

Frederic de la Motte Fouque’s Undine illustrated by Rackham

Arthur Rackham celebrations

The celebrations open in an exhibition of Rackham’s original artwork on Friday 8 September at National Trust Bateman’s in East Sussex, the house and gardens that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s famed Puck of Pook’s Hill novel, illustrated by Rackham. The showing will also include research responses to Rackham’s work by University Fine Art postgraduate Emma Martin.

She said: “I have always been fascinated by the power of stories, particularly fairy tales, something about them takes us back to when we were leafing through picture books, perhaps reading the words, or making up stories of our own.”

A University research symposium and musical performance hosted in Chichester on Saturday 16 September will continue the celebrations with a focus on Rackham’s legacy. The day-long event, which starts at 9:30am, will feature fairy tale and folklore scholars examining Rackham’s work and legacy.

The concert performance, with composer Jonathan Little from the University’s Department of Music, retells the narrative of Frederic de la Motte Fouque’s Undine which was illustrated by Rackham (above).

Sussex Centre assistant Heather Robbins said: “We are delighted to present Rackham’s fantastic visions of Sussex and hope his well-deserved popularity and renown continue to spread and grow.”

Tickets for the research symposium and musical performance, including a programme of guest speakers and their abstracts, is available from store.chi.ac.uk. To find out more about the celebratory events as well as the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy of the University of Chichester go to www.sussexfolktalecentre.org.

Arthur Rackham celebratory events

Arthur Rackham exhibition

  • Friday 8 September (exhibition open until 29 October)
  • Bateman’s, Burwash, Etchingham, East Sussex, TN19 7DS

University research symposium

  • 9:30am to 4:30pm on Saturday 16 September
  • Friends Meeting House, Priory Rd, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1NX
  • Tickets cost £25 each or £20 for concessions at store.chi.ac.uk

Undine musical performance

  • 1pm on Saturday 16 September
  • Assembly Rooms, 82 North Street, Chichester PO19 1LQ
  • Tickets cost £7 each at store.chi.ac.uk