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Julia and Axel – Thirty Years of Favourite Stories breaks opening weekend records at The Lowry

Major new free exhibition celebrating the picture book partnership between writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler has opened in Salford to record-breaking numbers First weekend saw 5,000 visitors to the exhibition, which also welcomed Axel Scheffler on opening day Exhibition is open Tuesday to Sunday (& Bank Holidays) until 1st Jan 2024

Record-breaking numbers of people flocked to a new free family exhibition featuring a host of picture book favourites at The Lowry in Salford this weekend.

Over 5,000 visitors attended Julia and Axel: Thirty Years of Favourite Stories on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd July.

The exhibition celebrates the much-loved and longstanding partnership between writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo, Zog, Room on the Broom, The Highway Rat, The Smeds and the Smoos, Stick Man and many more) and was curated by The Lowry in collaboration with publishers Alison Green Books, Scholastic Children’s Books and Macmillan Children’s Books.

Axel Scheffler attended the launch of the exhibition on Saturday, receiving a tour from The Lowry team, before spending some time signing books for visitors.

Julia and Axel: Thirty Years of Favourite Stories features some of Julia Donaldson’s personal writing notebooks; containing the very first ideas and creative thinking behind her picture book stories. This will be the first time that they have been shown as a collection, giving visitors a chance to see how her work has developed and changed over the years. These are being exhibited alongside over 100 pieces of Axel Scheffler’s original artwork, from first thoughts and early sketches to full page final illustrations that readers will know so well in the finished books.

The exhibition also looks at Julia and Axel’s own personal stories and their brilliantly creative partnership and how this has developed over 30 years.

Throughout the exhibition there are lots of fun opportunities for children to be creative themselves as they are guided to write their own stories, draw pictures, dress up, and play fun games inspired by the books.

And the Julia and Axel-themed fun is not confined to the Galleries space, with activities taking place throughout The Lowry. From selfie ops with a large Gruffalo statue outside The Lowry’s main entrance to earning a gold star at the Zog Academy in the Pier Eight lounge, and story sessions at The Highway Rat Storytelling Camp, and interactive role play at The Gruffalo Play Kitchen, there’s loads happening at The Lowry for families for the duration of the exhibition.

Michael Simpson, Director of Visual Arts at The Lowry, says: “We are absolutely thrilled with the record-breaking response to the exhibition on opening weekend. It was brilliant to see so many families coming through our doors to enjoy the wonderful work of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, and we can’t wait to welcome thousands more over the coming weeks and months. It was made extra-special as Axel joined us for the opening day, thrilling children as he signed their favourite books.”

Julia and Axel – Thirty Years of Favourite Stories runs at The Lowry, Salford until Monday 1st January 2024.

Opening Times: Tue-Fri 11am-5pm | Sat-Sun 10am-5pm (10am-11am Relaxed Hour – prebooking online recommended) | Closed Mon, except bank holidays.

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