Drawn to Drawing: John Vernon Lord

Yesterday I visited the House of Illustration. What a treat! Slap bang in the middle of the newly developed London Kings Cross Granary Square area and a skip away from the high-spec offices of giant tech company Google, you can visit this beautiful jewel.

Housed in a building that could work as the cover of any Charles Dickens book, is the UK’s only gallery dedicated to illustration and graphic art. Founded by illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake, it opened in 2014. Nine exhibitions are curated each year and the current one called John Vernon Lord: Illustrating Carroll & Joyce is superb.

Vernon Lord started working for an agency as soon as he left college. He describes the broad spectrum of work he completed during his long hours of work, ‘…portraits of company directors for their retirement dinner, menu covers, buildings for brochures, strip cartoons, maps and humorous drawings for advertisements, gardens and their plants, vegetables, mazes, refrigerators, dishwashers, totem poles, kitchen utensils, resuscitation diagrams, all kinds of furniture, typewriters, agricultural crop spraying machines, door locks, folded towels, decorative letters, Zodiac signs, animals..’ And you see evidence of these in so many of his drawings in the exhibition.

My favourite is the drawing of a bedsit/room in Charlotte Street in London – it still haunts me. It was as though John Vernon Lord had just left the room wearing only one slipper and would be returning in a moment to collect the other. The Guardian captures his work perfectly with their description of his work as “Dense illustrations – full of dark wit and symbolism”.

On until the 4th of November. Spend an afternoon of wonder and surprise. I promise you won’t be disappointed.