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By Deborah LeggateAugust 16th 2011

An exhibition of contemporary children's book illustration curated by Julia Donaldson

The wait is over! The Illustrators show opens this Friday, with a public opening from 6-8pm, and then during normal gallery opening hours from Saturday until 25th September. Everyone is welcome to come along and spot their favourite characters from the huge array of original artwork on display in the gallery.

Julia Donaldson is the newly appointed Children's Laureate and will spend the next two years promoting her passion for literature and the spoken word through events across Britain. Shetland Arts is proud to be hosting the first touring leg of this exhibition that Julia has curated herself, after it was shown to critical acclaim earlier this year at The Park Gallery, Falkirk.

The exhibition was originally put together as a partnership initiative between Falkirk Council (who run the Park Gallery) and Artlink Central but due to its overwhelming success and rave reviews it has been adapted for tour.

Julia Donaldson is the author of over 150 books for children and besides writing well-known books with Axel Scheffler including The Gruffalo, The Snail and the Whale and most recently Zog, she has collaborated with many other illustrators. Julia is also Patron of Artlink Central, a charity in Central Scotland which puts artists, musicians and storytellers into schools, hospitals, prisons and community spaces to work with children and adults and help them develop their talent and creativity.

In addition to Julia Donaldson's show there will be a stairwell projection of work by Shetland-based illustrator Meilo So, whose two books The Grumpy Old Sailor and A Midsummer Foy, written by Janice Armstrong, are just as dazzling and vibrant as the work in the main gallery. Including preparatory sketches and other illustrative work this mini-exhibition shows what talent there is on our own shores.

Shetland Arts will also be running "Listen with Others" - a series of free informal readings in the gallery during the run of the exhibition, open to all children. Janice Armstrong will be reading her two books and there will be other readings of Julia Donaldson's classic stories.

Furthermore, the exhibition coincides with Shetland Arts" book festival Wordplay on 3-4th September at which there will be the opportunity to join artist and author Sally Kindberg for a comic strip workshop.

Jane Matthews of Shetland Arts said, "it's bonanza time at Bonhoga with a brilliant mix of work on show for all the family. While we are lucky to have got The Illustrators show here from Falkirk we are also privileged to be showing an exhibition of new small works in the café by painter Gail Harvey. And with local author Janice Armstrong and illustrator Meilo So involved with their work as well we are going to have a brilliant five week run".