September 12, 2008 / 3:43 PM / 10 years ago

UK exhibit asks stars: "What are you like?"

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - If you were asked to pick eight things to describe yourself, what would you choose?

Music fans all know of Eric Clapton’s love of guitar, but have they heard of his fondness for fishing? It may come as no surprise that fashion designer Paul Smith describes himself through clothing, but do fashionistas know his favorite animal is the rabbit?

These are just some of the enlightening details revealed by a new exhibition, entitled “What Are You Like? Self Revealing Artworks by People in the Public Eye”, which opened in London this week at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Curated by Quentin Blake, illustrator for Roald Dahl, and novelist Claudia Zeff, the collection of 45 illustrations also includes entries by musician Brian Eno, novelist Phillip Pullman, and former BBC news reader Anna Ford, as well an entry from Blake himself.

The collection is exhibited anonymously, giving budding sleuths the chance to deduce from the characteristics in the pictures who has drawn what.

“The idea came when Quentin and I discovered a Victorian watercolor, which was eight images in a grid, entitled ‘what are you like?’,” Claudia Zeff said. “And I thought that title had a certain contemporary resonance to it.”

Zeff said that discovery set them off looking for people who could express themselves visually, but weren’t necessarily illustrators and artists.

“We wanted people in the public eye who have been to art school, but it’s not an exercise in celebrity squiggles,” she said. “We made it clear that they could use whatever medium they wanted.”

The result is a collection which also includes photos, a couple which are collages.

“People have found it quite hard, but they’ve put a huge amount of effort into it,” Zeff said.

The exhibition itself, which runs until January 2009, is on behalf of the House of Illustration, a charity set up by Blake. The proceeds will go towards a bespoke museum of illustration in the Kings Cross area, currently expected for 2011.

“Our museum will be all about illustration, the only museum in the UK dedicated solely to the art of illustration,” Zeff said. “It will be a broad church, with commissioned pieces, like this one, and those with their own narrative, which I think this one has in parts as well.”

Editing by Paul Casciato

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