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Maidstone Museum exhibition by Paul Kidby Discworld & Beyond including his work with Terry Pratchett

By Charlie Harman

Step into a world of fantasy as the artist behind Terry Pratchett's Discworld series displays a quarter of a century of his work.

Visitors young and old will be wowed as Paul Kidby, best-known for his work on the Discworld novels, brings his magical masterpieces to Maidstone.

His art bridges surrealism with a near-photographic quality, allowing walking luggage, dragons and even little blue men to not only be believable but to jump off the canvas.

Paul Kidby also designs his own creatures based on English folklore, for example Auld Goggie from his Charmed Realm book.
Paul Kidby also designs his own creatures based on English folklore, for example Auld Goggie from his Charmed Realm book.

The Discworld & Beyond tour, an exhibition charting the illustrator's 25 years in the business, displays a comprehensive collection of his work and is currently running at the Maidstone Museum until Saturday, September 1.

The self-taught artist said: "It has been really exciting selecting some of my favourite paintings for the Discworld & Beyond exhibition. Visitors will be able to see many of their favourite Discworld illustrations up close and personal and celebrate the wonderful legacy of a great author who has inspired so many, including me!"

With a diverse range of media on show, fans of the Discworld series will particularly delight in concept designs for the series' more recent titles. Personal recollections from the artist - who designed the legendary fantasy author's cover from 2002 until his death from Alzheimer's three years ago - are sometimes sad but always fascinating insights into their joint creative process.

The exhibition has everyone's favourite figures from the fictional universe, with Death, Cohen the Barbarian and a host of witches and wizards flooding the museum with colour and character. Included in the works are paintings from Kidby's own creation Charmed Realm, which focuses on British folklore with ethereal faeries and rambunctious gnomes. Though less well-known compared to Pratchett's world, they perfectly communicate Kidby's iconic style and are just as eye-catching.

A Discworld parody of a famous Beatles cover is among the artworks on display at Maidstone Museum
A Discworld parody of a famous Beatles cover is among the artworks on display at Maidstone Museum

A large section highlights his work on the Tiffany Aching series, including the original drawing for the Wee Free Men front cover. Known for his incredible detail throughout grand pieces, his Discworld Massif piece is both the largest and most nostalgic painting on display. Kidby included 77 Pratchettian personages within one frame, and fans who know the supporting cast well could spend hours just combing through the one picture.

Paul Kidby continues to create art for the Pratchett Estate, which is managed by Terry’s long-standing friend and business partner, Rob Wilkins, recently publishing a new, fully illustrated book, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Imaginarium. Fans are able to purchase this and other Kidby books and prints from the museum's gift shop.

The exhibition is open from 10am to 5pm at the Maidstone Museum, and runs until Saturday, September 1. For more information, visit museum.maidstone.gov.uk

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