Quentin Blake: We Live in Worrying Times


Sir Quentin Blake returns to Hastings Contemporary with prophetic exhibition of drawings, paintings and 30-foot-long mural described as ‘his Guernica’.

The Hastings Contemporary, formerly known as the Jerwood Gallery, partnered with the London Art Fair in 2016. Earlier this year, Sir Quentin Blake produced a new body of work ‘We Live in Worrying Times’ which captures Blake at the heights of his creativity, bringing together a thrilling collection of more than 170 new drawings, paintings and a large-scale mural described as Blake’s Guernica, which with its rawness and originality is unlike anything the artist has produced in his illustrious career.
The exhibition was due to open at Hastings Contemporary during Easter and was later postponed as a result of the COVID-19, in which time the gallery has been able to launch its Robot Tours. Many themes from this new show resonate with the current global crisis, highlighting Blake’s clear and resolute sense of feeling for others, particularly those experiencing hardship and distress.
At the centre of this new exhibition is The Taxi Driver, a thirty-by-five foot mural, completed by Blake in a single day, which takes inspiration from Picasso’s Guernica. Blake was inspired to create the work after a fateful encounter with a taxi driver just over a year ago.
On The Move by Quentin Blake © The Artist Sir Quentin Blake
The encounter with the taxi driver felt like a dream to the artist; he asked for the taxi driver’s name, so that he could let him know the outcome of his work, but the driver replied that wasn’t necessary as he ‘kept an eye on everything anyway’.
The full exhibition will open to the public later in the year. In the meantime, Quentin has created a series of brand new, totally free rainbow e-cards for people to send to loved ones they cannot currently visit, to show they are thinking of them at this difficult time.
Rainbow e-cards by Quentin Blake © The Artist Sir Quentin Blake
He explains: “It seems like a time when a few straightforward jokes might not come amiss; so that as I know that people have been putting rainbows into their windows to express solidarity, I took the liberty of borrowing them. You will see that I have supposed that they are real and portable, and I hope they are optimistic too.  I can imagine myself submitting them to Punch magazine 60 years ago in the hope that I might get onto the colour pages. Perhaps I don’t need to add that they have much more meaning for me now than they would have had then.”
The images play with rainbows as three-dimensional objects, exploring what you might turn the shape into. In one, a man delivers a rainbow on a trolley, and another uses it as a colourful hairstyle.  The images express not only the characters’ delight in the rainbow itself, but everyday pleasures: walking on a breezy day, the bond of affection with a dog, the view from a roof, a treat on the table or a cosy place to read.
The ten, individual ‘Send a Rainbow‘ e-cards are available to download from the ‘Fun & Free‘ section of Quentin’s official website.