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Last year, as part of the 40th anniversary of Raymond Briggs’s much-loved picture book, The Snowman, Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House) asked leading children’s book illustrators to recreate The Snowman in their own iconic style.
In December, nine unique pieces of artwork went on display at Brighton Museum, alongside an exhibition of the original illustrations from The Snowman by Raymond Briggs CBE. Quentin Blake, Adam Hargreaves, Shirley Hughes, Helen Oxenbury, Chris Riddell, Posy Simmonds, Andy Stanton, Ed Vere and the late John Burningham all paid homage to Raymond by recreating The Snowman in their own iconic style – a fitting tribute to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Raymond’s classic book.
The one-off pieces were all signed by the relevant illustrator and available to buy via an online auction, which was live from 4 December until 6 January 2019. The £10,180 raised has gone directly to Raymond Briggs’s chosen charity, Chestnut Tree House, of which he is a Patron. Also included in the auction were three copies of the 40th anniversary edition of The Snowman book, signed by Raymond.
The most sought-after artwork in the auction was the illustration by Sir Quentin Blake, which paid tribute to The Snowman’s scarf, that Quentin said he always felt was not long enough! The one-off signed piece fetched £2,245 in the auction and was won by an anonymous bidder. Speaking about the art tribute project, Quentin Blake said: “I was very happy to be invited to take part in the celebration as I am a longstanding admirer of Raymond Briggs and his work.”
Not far behind in the auction was Helen Oxenbury’s artwork. One of the world’s most acclaimed children’s illustrators, Helen’s numerous books include the double prize-winning Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the one-off ‘My Snowman’ piece features The Snowman with a dance partner under the moonlight. Snapped up for £1,950, the artwork was bought by a long-term Chestnut Tree House supporter, who has decided to loan the picture to the hospice so that it can be displayed for families to enjoy.
The illustrations by Shirley Hughes and Posy Simmonds also sold for over £1,300, while the signed copies of The Snowman book went for £210 each.
Emilio Di Nello placed the winning bid for the Shirley Hughes artwork, which he and his wife collected from Chestnut Tree House recently. Emilio said: “My wife and I loved the exhibition and we are both massive fans of The Snowman. We have a huge collection of memorabilia that we have accumulated over the years, and are extremely pleased that we could make a small difference to the charity by taking part in this auction. We look forward to displaying the beautiful work of art in our home.”
The 2015—2017 UK Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, was at the launch of the ‘My Snowman’ exhibition at Brighton Museum and expressed his delight at being part of the tribute:
“The Snowman is a sublime piece of visual storytelling that has entered the imaginations of generations of children” said Chris Riddell. “I was very lucky to be taught by Raymond Briggs and have boasted about that fact for many years. The Snowman was a huge influence on me as an illustrator as was the insight and encouragement of the man who made him.”
Isobel Richardson, Head of Brand Management at Penguin Ventures said: “A key ambition for the 40th anniversary of The Snowman was to create an opportunity that celebrated Raymond Briggs as an artist, whilst simultaneously raising awareness of Chestnut Tree House, a charity that Raymond has supported for many years. We were overwhelmed at the response from world-renowned illustrators who were keen to pay tribute to Raymond and The Snowman and we are absolutely thrilled at the figure that the auction of their artworks has raised for the important care that Chestnut Tree House continues to provide.”
Janet Parsons, Head of Communications at Chestnut Tree House said: “We are incredibly grateful to our friend and Patron, Raymond Briggs, for his ongoing support of Chestnut Tree House. For over a decade, Raymond has helped us in various ways – both in terms of fundraising and increasing awareness of the specialist care we provide for life-limited children across Sussex and South East Hampshire.
“Celebrating moments, friendships, and making memories are central to both Chestnut Tree House and The Snowman story, and we were honoured to be the beneficiary charity of this special auction. We’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the illustrators for getting involved – the £10,180 raised is incredible, and we hope that the initiative has also helped to raise awareness of the vital work that all children’s hospices do for their local communities.”