About a year ago the librarian Geertje Descheemaeker at the library of Genk asked me if I would be interested in creating an exhibition of my work.
The reason was two fold: To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the library but also because this year I'm working 25 years as a writer and illustrator of children’s books. So in Genk they thought it was time to put my work in the picture!
It was clear from the beginning that they didn’t just want to hang framed art against the wall. They wanted to create an immersive experience for kids and adults.
The library in Genk is a spectacular building, with a lot of light and space, so there where lots of possibilities to build an interactive and fun exhibition.
I quickly realised this project was to big to handle alone so I turned to my long time collaborator, designer Maarten Deckers for help.
Maarten and I work for nearly 20 years together and he designed almost all my books. We trust each others opinion and ideas.
After multiple brainstorm sessions we selected the books, Gus’s garage, Franky, Deep-sea doctor Derek and my TV-series Ziggy and the Zootram as focus points for the expo.
Animals, transportation and the deep-sea world where going to be the visual themes throughout the exposition and communication.
We chose a campaign image that evoked these themes as much as possible. The 'Octobus' full of fish evokes the Doctor Derek underwater word, but also the theme of cars and transportation. We used this image on all communication, like posters, flyers, folders banners and online.
(photos Maarten Deckers)
We actually build Gus's garage in the library!
If you pick up the phone, push the radiobutton or sit in the sofa you can listen to one of my books. There's also a bookbath and an oil barrel with a tiny hole to look though. Inside you can see all the cars driving circles around Gus's garage. In the garage you also find the original paintings from the book..
We also build a life-size tram in the main hall of the library. The tram functions as a small cinema where you can watch the Ziggy and the Zootram episodes in a loop. There are comfortable cushions in the tram for the children to sit on.
On the exhibition there is live 3D printing. A printer will print Ziggy's which will be used during workshops. Children get a Ziggy to paint. I tried it already!
For the books Franky and Deep-sea doctor Derek we made two big columns. There are 3 original illustrations on every wall. The fourth wall has a hole in it for a nice photo op. You can see yourself in a real rocket or submarine. Look out! There comes a shark!
Especially for this exhibition we build a wall in the main hall of the library. There are about 50 illustrations on display from press illustrations, book illustrations, posters to covers and much more.
For this occasion I also made a selection of giclee prints. I selected nine different illustrations and tree formats. They are all signed and numbered. Only 5o copies will be made. All prints come with a certificate of authenticity. They will also be available soon on this website.
I'm really proud with how this exhibition turned out. Opening night was a great succes!
Many thanks to Maarten Deckers, Ann Vanderheyden, Danny Bierset (Bandwerker), librarian Geertje and her full staff, the technical service of the City of Genk and the school of industrial design for their assistance, coöperation, and support.