ONE of the nation’s best-loved artists will soon come to Romsey for an exhibition of children’s illustrators.

New drawings by Quentin Blake for the hit West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be shown for the first time, alongside work by other leading contemporary artists.

Blake has been drawing all his life, with his first publication at 16-years-old. Since then he has become internationally famous, known for both his books and collaborations with authors, most famously Roald Dahl.

He taught illustration for more than 20 years at the Royal College of Art, and more recently has curated exhibitions in major museums, including making large-scale works for hospitals.

Quentin Blake and Friends opens at Mottisfont on Saturday (July 19) and will run until September 14.

Louise Govier, visitor experience manager and curator, said: “We are so excited to be showing Quentin’s work this summer. So many of us have wonderful memories of discovering his books and of course of how he brought Roald Dahl’s stories to life.

“His new work is just as fresh and funny – his drawings of people lusting for chocolate are hilarious. He pokes fun at all sorts of things in modern life, but we find ourselves smiling even as we sometimes recognise ourselves.”

The original drawings and watercolours have all been lent by the Chris Beetles Gallery in London, with all for sale.

The exhibition also includes works by Michael Foreman, Emma Chichester Clark, John Burningham, Helen Oxenbury, Rebecca Cobb and Oliver Jeffers.

The stories illustrated range from classics such as Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland and classic fairy tales, to works by Terry Jones and Michael Morpurgo.

“This show covers a really broad range of styles, from the rich detail and deep colours of Michael Foreman to the simple figures captured in a few deft lines that characterise Oliver Jeffers’ work,” Ms Govier added.

“I’m also really excited to see the new work by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury – anyone who’s read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with their kids will recognise Helen’s style immediately. These really are some of the best illustrators working today, and it’s fascinating to contrast how differently they all use pictures to tell stories.”

There will be a story trail around the house and grounds where families can create their own illustrated books, and in August there will be activities making nature themed books, enjoying storytelling, or watching performances, with the possibility of meeting the authors (August 2,3, 16, 17).

On August 30-31 storytellers from the Roald Dahl Museum will be attending.

The exhibition runs daily from 10am until 5pm.