The Rimbaud and Verlaine Foundation hosted a special evening devoted to Quentin Blake and his interest in French culture at Kings Place on 9 May. The audience were treated to an event interspered with French poems and songs by classical French authors, alongside discussions between Quentin Blake and Lucie Campos Mitchell from L'institut francais about his interest in French poetry and illustration, and the work he had done on French books, and in schools, hospitals and museums.
Quentin spoke about his French 'heroes' - including cartoonists Andre Francois and Honore Daumier - leading on his own work such as the selection of French poetry 'Un promenade de Quentin Blake au pays de la poesie francaise', in which he lovingly illustrated many classic French poems. Several of these were featured in performance by singer Anna Sideris and actor Dylan Reed. (Pictured: Quentin's live drawing of 'L'ogre et la fee' by Victor Hugo, as it was being read by Dylan Reed). Quentin gave a brief lecture on the artist and illustrator Caran d'Ache (best known for the brand of pencils which carry his distinctive signature); followed by a brief look at his own work creating artwork for French hospitals, or curating exhibitions in Paris.
Taking the names of French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, who lived in Royal College Street in London, the Rimbaud and Verlaine Foundation works to promote Anglo-French cultural exchange. Through a programme of live events, artists’ residencies and educational programmes aimed at giving opportunities to young people in both France and the UK, the Foundation wants to foster good relations and closer cultural ties between the UK and France. For more information on the Foundation and its activities, visit: http://www.rimbaudverlaine.org/en/