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Canterbury: BFG in Pictures comes to The Beaney in Canterbury with original artworks by Quentin Blake and family fun

The magical illustrations that brought children's author Roald Dahl's book The BFG to life are coming to Canterbury.

BFG in Pictures was curated by the man behind them, Quentin Blake, and features more than 40 of his original artworks.

The exhibition comes to the Beaney in the city courtesy of the House of Illustration and includes never before seen illustrations, alongside the final illustrations for the book.

The BFG comes to The Beaney Picture: The House of Illustration
The BFG comes to The Beaney Picture: The House of Illustration

Running alongside it is a programme of family activities, including a ‘share your dream’ competition.

Open to all ages, entrants are invited to share their dreams through pictures, poetry or short stories, for the chance to have their work transformed into an original illustration that will go on display in the Beaney.

There are three age categories to enter – six and under, seven to 12, and 13 and over – the ‘big kids’ category. Runners up and winners in the ‘big kids’ category will also have the opportunity to participate in a special writing workshop hosted by a published author.


There's a range of related, friendly fun to get stuck into when you've seen the exhibition and it has fired up your imagination. Until Sunday, May 20, there's a chance to create your own BFG art, with a creative pack available in the Explorers and Collectors' Gallery. You can drop in and it costs £1 per person to take part or £4 for three activities.

Follow the BFG trail around the museum for a scrumdidilly treat by picking up a trail sheet from the atrium, for £1 per person.

Inspired by the exhibition, visitors can create their own dream to take home with them. You supply the imagination and the museum will supply the materials. It runs throughout the day and costs £2.50 per person, and you can drop in.

The activities are part of a new Beaney family programme, designed to create a welcoming and positive experience for families across the city council’s museums and gallery service, combining free and affordable activities at weekends and over school holidays with high quality exhibitions.


Short for Big Friendly Giant, Roald Dahl wrote the children's book in 1982 and it was illustrated by Quentin Blake.

It is an expansion of a short story from Dahl's 1975 book Danny, the Champion of the World. He dedicated it to his late daughter, Olivia, who died of measles encephalitis at the age of seven in 1962.

Quentin Blake's illustrations will be on show
Quentin Blake's illustrations will be on show

Sophie, can't sleep in the orphanage and sees a strange sight in the street. A giant man is walking in the street, carrying a bag. When he sees Sophie, she runs to her bed and tries to hide but he picks her up through the window and takes her back to his cave.
He tells her that although most giants do eat human beings, he doesn't, because he is the Big Friendly Giant.

He takes her to Dream Country to catch dreams. The Queen and a visit to Buckingham Palace figure in the story - but we don't want to spoil it for you!

An animated adaptation was released in 1987 with David Jason providing the voice of the BFG and a film version directed by Steven Spielberg was released in 2016, with Ashford-born Mark Rylance as the BFG.


Roald Dahl invented more than 500 words and character names for his books. He excelled himself with the BFG, waxing lyrical with his gentle joviality.

Snozzcumbers: are his staple diet - disgusting striped warty cucumber-like vegetables with wart-like growths that taste like frogskins and rotten fish to Sophie and cockroaches and slime wanglers to the BFG.

Frobscottle: A fizzy drink which causes noisy flatulence because of the bubbles.

Whizzpopping: The name the BFG gives for the noisy flatulence caused by the above!

Quentin Blake's illustrations will be in BFG In Pictures Picture: The House of Illustration
Quentin Blake's illustrations will be in BFG In Pictures Picture: The House of Illustration


Born in Sidcup, Quentin was evacuated during the war, before going to Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, and was taught English by JH Walsh, who inspired him.

He started drawing as a child, and his first published illustrations as an adult were in the Spectator and Punch. He went on to work with author Roald Dahl for 13 years. He was children’s laureate from 1999 to 2001.

He illustrated dozens of Dahl's books, starting with the Enormous Crocodile in 1979 - and ending with Dahl's first work, Billy and the Minpins, which was published shortly after Dahl's death in 1991, and re-released with new illustrations last year.


BFG in Pictures, a touring exhibition from the House of Illustration, runs from Saturday, March 3 to Sunday, May 20 in the Beaney’s Special Exhibitions Room in Canterbury. For details go to canterburymuseums.co.uk.

The museum is closed on Mondays, open 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sundays. Entry is free, though there may be a small charge for certain special exhibitions and events.

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