The Gruffalo and Friends exhibition at Mottisfont

An illustration from the Gruffalo's Child by Axel Scheffler

This event happened in summer 2017 and has now finished.

The Gruffalo and Friends: the Art of Axel Scheffler runs from 15 July - 3 September, 11am - 5pm. Normal property admission price only. For visitors unable to access the second floor gallery, we have digital versions of exhibitions on iPads which are available on lower levels.

Axel Scheffler has been creating imaginative illustrations for more than 30 years. He's perhaps best-known for his collaborations with Julia Donaldson, including the modern classics The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, which have sold over 17 million copies worldwide and been translated into over 70 languages. 

Full of expressive characters and quirky details, Scheffler’s ink-wash and pencil style is instantly recognisable. Most of the works featured are from his famous collaborations with Julia Donaldson, with a few other earlier pieces.

Scheffler's illustrations are full of colour and quirky details
An illustration from Monkey Puzzle by Axel Scheffler
Scheffler's illustrations are full of colour and quirky details

Our exhibition is very family-focused. The gallery will be laid out to suit younger audiences, with lower-hanging pictures, a child-friendly guide, and cosy reading spaces dotted throughout.

It's an immersive experience, with large, scene-setting vinyls and other decorations taken from Scheffler’s illustrations, alongside more traditionally hung artworks. Quotes from the books will decorate the walls.

You'll get to see some of Axel's preparatory sketches, too.

Some sketches will be on show, giving you a peek behind the scenes
A preparatory sketch by Axel Scheffler for Room on the Broom
Some sketches will be on show, giving you a peek behind the scenes

First, visitors will be introduced to Axel Scheffler as an artist. This room will showcase some of Axel’s early, pre-Julia Donaldson illustrations, such as works from his first picture book, You’re a Hero, Daley B!, first published in 1989 – and give visitors a peek at some of his drawings from childhood.

Scheffler loved drawing from a young age; originally from Germany, he came to England to study illustration at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, Wiltshire. After illustrating editorial and books for a variety of newspapers and publishers, Scheffler was partnered with Donaldson, setting in motion a collaboration that has spanned 25 years.

A journey through Axel's art

As you move through the gallery, characters will entice you through doorways, leading you to discover themes based on various settings of Scheffler’s illustrations. There are the ocean worlds of Tiddler, the Story Telling Fish and The Snail and the Whale, and the jungle of Monkey Puzzle

See the oceans from The Snail and the Whale
An illustration by Axel Scheffler from The Snail and the Whale
See the oceans from The Snail and the Whale

Your imagination will take you soaring up into a blue sky with the Zog stories and Room on the Broom, and come back to land for Superworm, The Smartest Giant in Town, The Highway Rat, Tabby McTat and The Scarecrow’s Wedding. Tucked into a tiny cupboard is a ‘window’ into the house of A Squash and a Squeeze, Axel Scheffler’s very first collaboration with Julia Donaldson.

Finally, a ‘forest’ room is dedicated to The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man, where you might be able to spot a real Stick Man hidden in the fireplace… 

Family fun

The Tiger Who Came to Tea exhibition banner

Summer holiday activities 

Enjoy family adventures alongside our Gruffalo and Friends exhibition. As well as a fantastic family trail throughout the summer holidays, there are additional Gruffalo-themed activities on 29 - 30 August.