IBIS holds regular meetings, lectures. visits to collections and museums as organises study days.

Some Past Events

Study Visit to The V&A Print Room

On 17th October 2012, members visited the V&A print room to see a range of examples from their collection. We were greeted by the curator, Stephen Calloway, who gave a short talk outlining the history of the collection and the ways in which items in it have been acquired. We were then given brief instructions on how to handle the items in the ten solander boxes that had been laid out for us before being let loose on them. In selecting the boxes the aim had been to show items relating to recent IBIS publications, items specially requested by members and some particular treasures from the illustrations in the collection. Items on view included boxes of work by Robert Anning Bell, Henry Ospovat, Edmund J Sullivan, Laurence Housman, W Heath Robinson and Aubrey Beardsley. Other items included two fine watercolours by Patten Wilson, requested drawings by Sidney Sime and Alan Odle, and works by Arthur Rackham, Charles Robinson and Vera Willoughby We were struck by the depth and richness of the illustrative work in the collection, little of which is ever exhibited. There were some amusing juxtapositions of works sharing the same box, such as the cartoons of Steve Bell alongside the illustrations by RA Bell. Overall the visit was deemed a great success. (Geoffrey Beare)

Study Visit to Manchester

On Saturday 10th March 2012 IBIS members enjoyed a day out in Manchester. We met at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) library at opening time to see an inspiring exhibition of wood engravings marking the generous donation by the Society of Wood Engravers (SWE) of their archive to MMU Special Collections. The exhibition showed the work of current SWE members alongside engravings by past members that they had nominated as having been a particular inspiration to them. Each contemporary print was displayed beside a print by the engraver's 'hero'. The exhibition of SWE prints was complemented by examples of ilustrated books, wood-blocks and other material from some of the artists' archives held at MMU Special Collections.

Next on the programme was lunch at the first-rate cafe at the Whitworth Art Gallery. We were then met there by Helen Stalker who took us behind the scenes to look at a selection of treasures from the gallery's Walter Crane archive. The highlight for me was to see the unpublished 'black book' drawings. These were made solely to delight his own children, and the free and masterful hand in these playful and beautiful works, made with no concern for subsequent translation into print made them unique in his oeuvre.

In our viewing of the archive we were expertly guided by Helen, who had chosen an intense pencil drawing by Crane of his wife to illustrate her great influence on him, both in art and in his social life. The latter aspect was demonstrated by the extensive collection of illustrated invitations for their 'at homes' and exhibitions, while her figure was readily recognised in many of his published books. It was fascinating to see the contrast between the relatively subdued colouring of Crane's original watercolours for the toy books such as Beauty and the Beast and the much brighter colouring of the printed versions. And his preparatory gouaches for his later socialist works struck me particularly for their sheer celebratory exuberance. (Emma Ballantine)

Visit to the Royal Academy Library. Following the success of 2010's visit to the RA Library, which was heavily oversubscribed, a second visit took place in March 2011 and was equally successful. As before, the visit started with a talk by Nick Savage, the Librarian explaining the purpose of the library and its history before describing the collection of over 5000 illustrated books that he has built up over the past 20 years. Twelve members and guests took advantage of the opportunity to see a range of early and valuable illustrated volumes set out for us on the library tables, to pore over the boxes of rare ephemera and to have free rein to search the shelves for favourite or coveted items.

Claud Lovat Fraser. On Wednesday 25th May 2011 an audience of about 25 members and guests gathered in the Art Worker’s Guild to hear Peyton Skipwith talk about the life and work of Claud Lovat Fraser, an artist and designer who, in his tragically short life, managed to produce a surprisingly large number of illustrations and designs of striking originality. The talk was very well received and was followed by a long and lively question and answer session. A transcript of Peytons talk is in Studies in Illustration, Issue 48.

London Sketch Club Visit. On Wednesday 13th October 2010, 18 members were entertained at the London Sketch Club in Chelsea. On arrival we were immediately enthralled by the selection of original art work by former members displayed on the staircase. This included fine examples by William Heath Robinson, John Hassall, Phil May, GE Studdy and Lawson Wood. Once at the top of the stairs we were welcomed into a cosy little bar where a range of beverages were offered by our host, Don Grant, who is the Club’s archivist. From the bar we drifted into the main clubroom and started to search for our favourite artists among the many members whose silhouettes around the top of the walls are such a feature. Folders of artwork from the club archives were laid out for our inspection. Once everyone had arrived, Don gave us a lively account of the history of the club and some of its characters, illustrated with an excellent selection of slides. We were also shown a fascinating film of the club and its activities made in the 1950s. After further drinks and much discussion we reluctantly made our way home, having got to know both our fellow IBIS members and those favourite artists a little better. We are grateful both to Don Grant and to the London Sketch Club for making us so welcome.