Roald Dahl illustrator is a big draw at first illustration festival

An illustrator of world-famous children’s author Roald Dahl was a top draw at the first ever Hastings Illustration Festival (Hi-Fest).

Sir Quentin Saxby Blake CBE was guest of honour at the event which was hailed a resounding success, attracting more than 1,000 visitors, and raising hundreds of pounds for charity.

The one-day event held at Sussex Coast College on Saturday, December 6, was inspired by organisers Ali Graham and Nina Cosford.

The family event attracted children and adults alike, keen to take part in workshops, purchase gifts and view the work presented by 75 talented illustration artists who were in attendance, including Sir Quentin.

Sir Quentin, best known as Roald Dahl’s illustrator, has strong ties to Hastings and visitors to Hi-Fest had the opportunity to meet him and purchase signed copies of Hastings Old Town Preservation Society’s 2015 calendar, which Sir Quentin illustrated. On the cover Sir Quentin designed an original Hastings sea drawing and inside the calendar months are depicted with illustrations taken from his various books. Having written and illustrated more than 35 books and worked on 250 more in his life there was a massive body of work to choose from. He said: “I tried to pick appropriate pictures for the time of year.”

Sir Quentin, patron of the Old Town Preservation Society, has a house in the Old Town which he says he has had for ‘a very long time’ and which he used to escape to get on with the job in hand - drawing. Of the Hi-Fest event, he said: “I’m amazed by it and not surprised - it’s so very exciting. There have always been illustrators and artists here and there in Hastings, and a few of them I know, but to have produced this event is an extraordinary achievement. I think it’s a wonderful site for it as well. It exploits the site brilliantly. It think it’s a triumph.”

Hi-Fest raised £570 for charity partner Trekstock - which supports young people with cancer - and a collection for the RNLI raised £25.

Organisers plan to make the festival an annual event.

Ali said: “There was such a high calibre of illustrators and it was really nice to see so many families there - young and old engaging with it all. Quentin Blake said such lovely things about the event - he is such a wonderful character and such an inspiration - it was a treat for everyone to have him there.”