Tintin @ Somerset House

Honestly I haven’t seen any exhibitions recently that have really impressed me. Around Christmas there always seems to be a lull in good things to see. However, that all changed after a trip to see TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece at Somerset House.

Tintin is a globally loved cartoon character who was first penned by Belgian artist Georges Prosper Remi, best known by his pen name Hergé in the 1920s. The show at Somerset House traces Tintin and Hergé’s story from the author’s very first doodles in his school notebooks to his lasting impact today.

The setting for the exhibition has been transformed into a hand drawn cartoon world. All of the walls have been covered in Hergé’s illustrations. Even the fireplaces and windows have been covered over with characters from Tintin’s escapades. Each of the three rooms has been turned into one of the most loved settings from his adventures including Captain Haddock’s Marlinspike Hall. Not only are we able to walk into the twilight cartoon streets, but real models of locations from Tintin’s tales are also on display. This explains Hergé’s interest in design and architecture and gives us the opportunity to have a three-dimensional glimpse inside Tintin’s bedroom.

Drawing from the archives of the Hergé Museum in Belgium are clippings from Tintin’s first public appearance in Le Vingtieme newspaper in 1929 when the artist was only 20. Since then, more than 200 million Tintin books have been sold in over 90 countries, and despite no new adventures been penned in 40 years, Tintin has even found himself starring in a Spielberg film.

The exhibition is vibrant and sure to be loved by the whole family. It is reminiscent of a Babar exhibition that I saw at my favourite museum, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris a few years ago. In fact, all of the wall text on display is written in both English and French, something that really impressed me as I grew up watching the cartoons in French and not English. Therefore, the dog that many people know as Snowy is Milou to me.

Whether you are passing by for a spot of Christmas shopping or needing a break from the ice rink outside this exhibition is the perfect Christmas treat, so make sure you pop in to reconnect with Hergé’s sketchbook.

TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece is at Somerset House until 12 November 2016

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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