This is the moment when I admit to not having heard of Dave McKean, by name, until the staff at Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery said in very excited voices “We’ve got the Dave McKean exhibition next year!!” But like very many other people, I will have seen his work somewhere, at sometime, and not realised. Someone who works as a graphic designer can produce beautiful art, but not get the name recognition that an exhibiting fine artist might – just look at the cover of the Tori Amos CD ‘God’ or a book cover (sorry it’s on Amazon).
His name is more well known to those with an interest in comic books and comic art, as much of his work has been with this form of illustration, and while looking at the exhibition it was brilliant to hear positive critical comments coming from other people’s children. Dave McKean produced the covers for Neil Gaiman’s series ‘The Sandman’ while different artists illustrated the interiors. Dave McKean also worked with Neil Gaiman on children’s novels to try and promote reading to the next generation, such as ‘Coraline’ and ‘The Day I swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish’. In 2005 McKean and Gaiman worked on a film together ‘MirrorMask’ which you can watch while at the exhibition.
Surreal would be the over-riding word for the work on display, with many pieces made as collages of different materials. This made the comments notice-board very amusing reading, confirming that art and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. It’s an exhibition worth visiting, even if you don’t expect it to interest you, and the Museum have some associated events: The Half-term Holiday Happenings take on a Comic Book theme, there will also be a career panel, roundtable talk, and a late night opening with latte (Friday 14th March 7pm – 10pm). The late night latte Coffee Haus sounds so good I’m not sure why it’s a one off…. But, anyway, the exhibition is on until the 30th March – so if you are local, pay a visit, if not local, check out some of McKean’s work online
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery entry to Museum and Art Gallery is free