E H Shepard is well known as the illustrator of A A Milne’s delightful Winnie-the-Pooh stories, the much loved little bear modelled upon his son Graham’s teddy bear. Shepard said he’d “never seen a finer bear”.
An exhibition at The House of Illustration off London’s Granary Square shows that Shepard’s work had a far wider audience. Awarded a Military Cross for conspicuous bravery in the trenches, detailed and meticulous drawings and watercolours kept Punch magazine supplied with regular accounts of the realities of life and death on the Somme in one of the very few ways that could get past wartime censorship.
Shepard was able to provide annotated drawings so accurate in scale and precision that intelligence was frequently able the better to assess enemy strategies.
Very well worth the visit.
And Granary Square itself, like nearby St Pancras and King’s Cross Stations, is a superb example of an Arts Capital aiming for public engagement with art.
A huge pavement level installation of LED illuminated fountains persuades crowds to sit down to listen to what sound like the footsteps of a thousand marching feet in one moment, giving way to the cooing of bathing pigeons and the delighted shrieks of small children who can pedal or toddle through the intermittent fountains without being overwhelmed.
Add readily available good coffee, plenty of elegant granite bench seating, blue sky, warm late October sunshine and smiles in every direction and before you know it a couple of hours have shaped a person happier, even, than the perfectly cheerful soul who arrived.