Bagpuss illustrator Linda Birch shares her artistic journey at the Bowes Museum

By Richard Moss | 04 October 2012
an illustration from the Bagpuss series showing a a group of cats shipwrecked on a rock
Linda Birch, Bagpuss, the Shipwreck© Courtesy the artist
Exhibition Preview: Beyond Bagpuss – An Artist's Journey, The Bowes Museum, Durham, October 20 2012 – February 17 2013

Linda Birch’s career as an illustrator began quite suddenly, one Saturday afternoon in the mid-1960s, when she bought a bottle of Indian ink and decided that was the path she’d like to tread.

“It was a bit of an epiphany,” says the illustrator of the much loved Bagpuss series. “I loved books, preferred drawing animals to nudes, and wasn’t happy with the fine art course I was taking, so I switched to train as an illustrator and that was it for about 35 years.”

Many years on and Linda has one of the best CV’s for children’s illustration in the business.
She admits her lucky break came when she met Oliver Postgate, the legendary creator of Children’s TV classics the Clangers and Bagpuss. And after cutting her teeth on an annual for Pogle’s Wood, one of the earliest children’s series from Postgate’s Small Films Company, Linda quickly found her meter.

She went on to illustrate more than 150 books including Conker, by Warhorse author Michael Morpurgo, which won an award in Children’s Books of the Year, and Who Shot Queen Victoria? by Horrible Histories author Terry Deary.

In addition she also worked on several BBC Jackanory episodes including Simon and the Witch, The Wrestling Princess and Fred the Angel.

Her exhibition at the Bowes will feature early work including illustrations for Bagpuss and Simon and the Witch, but it will also feature other illustrations, sketch books and a DVD of her at work.

A number of new paintings including landscapes, wild flowers and animals, both farm and domestic, also feature giving a fascinating overview of her life’s work to date.

More pictures:

a watercolour painting a venetian square with shimmering blue and gold
Linda Birch, San Marco, Venice, Twilight© Courtesy the artist
an illustration of schoolboy standing next to an old lady
Linda Birch, Simon and the Witch© Courtesy the artist
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