Step up Atlanta – there are only three days left to see the High Museum’s exhibition Winnie the Pooh, Exploring a Classic. It’s an immersive exhibition with many original drawings by illustrator E.H. Shepard, plus a room full of Pooh memorabilia, photographs, play-spaces, and reproductions of the toys.
To me the drawings were a revelation. I’d seen (and loved) the books, but the preparatory drawings are on a whole new level. There’s more depth and detail in the drawings than in the modern editions of the books.
“Do you think it’s a Woozle?” – Winnie the Pooh: Exploring a Classic – “Pooh and Piglet go hunting,” Winnie-the-Pooh chapter 3, pen and ink sketch by E. H.Shepard, 1926. From the collection of Clive and Alison Beecham © The Shepard Trust
We see Pooh and Piglet (above) from behind, but they’re still individual personalities. I hadn’t seen Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and company for a while. Modern anime eyes and googley Disney eyes and exaggeration are so intrusive that I’d almost forgotten the joys of subtle expression, compact movement and economy of line.
Another revelation: the trees. The subject may be Piglet in the flood or three friends discovering Roo, but the forest is a character too.
“It’s a little anxious to be a very small animal entirely surrounded by water” – E.H.Shepard, 1926
E.H. Shepard, Winnie-the-Pooh, Exploring a Classic, High Museum Atlanta
The Three Pine Trees – High Museum, Winnie the Pooh, Exploring a Classic, High Museum, Atlanta
Re-reading the first book, I found only one written description of the trees. The illustrations carry it after that.
It was a fine spring morning in the forest as he started out. Little soft clouds played happily in a blue sky, skipping from time to time in front of the sun as if they had come to put it out, and then sliding away suddenly so that the next might have his turn. Through them and between them the sun shone bravely; and a copse which had worn its firs all the year round seemed old and dowdy now beside the new green lace which the beeches had put on so prettily.
They’re a little bit of ancient Britain shining first into the 20th, and now the 21st Century, a remnant of enchanted forests.
Here’s a photograph of E.H. Shepard…
E.H. Shepard, photograph by Howard Coster, 1932, given by Mrs Norah Shepard © National Portrait Gallery, London. (High Museum, Winnie-the-Pooh, Exploring a Classic)
… and A.A. Milne, Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear, by Howard Coster, 1926 © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Photograph of A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin
From: Correspondence and other material relating to the illustration and publication of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and ‘Now we are six’, 1925-1926.
And at the end, wall-sized “Good-Bye”…
“Of course it isn’t really good-bye… the Forest will always be there, and anyone who is Friendly with Bears can find it.”
And one more thing, for a little color, and a little fun, (and in case you’re wondering how I can possibly work this post into this week’s Cee’s Photo Challenge: Teal/Aqua/Seafoam/Turquoise)… who doesn’t love picture cut-outs?
Today’s question: are you Friendly with Bears?
Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge
More on the exhibition: High Museum