The BFG has arrived in York – and you can even explore his cave

Mia Miles, 9, enjoys the Roald Dahl classic on Sophie's bed at York Art Gallery. Photograph: YorkMix

There’s a magical opportunity to see behind the scenes of a classic children’s story at a new exhibition.

The BFG In Pictures

The BFG In Pictures brings 40 original artworks, including rarely seen unpublished illustrations, to York Art Gallery.

Together they provide a unique insight into the development of one of the most iconic characters in children’s literature.


The exhibition is curated by Quentin Blake, the artist behind the images that helped bring Roald Dahl’s story The BFG to life.

As well as early sketches and a video of Quentin at work, you can even learn how to draw the BFG thanks to Quentin’s picture guide.

Gigantic ears

There’s plenty of fun to enjoy alongside the pictures.

You can explore the BFG’s cave, or lie on his young friend Sophie’s bed. There is a chance to dress up like the BFG too, complete with gigantic ears!

The BFG, which tells the story of a big friendly giant, a little girl called Sophie, dream catching, snozzcumbers and whizzpops, is a favourite of all ages.

“I was originally commissioned to produce a dozen illustrations for The BFG,” Quentin said.

Mia explores the BFG’s cave
A silhouette of the BFG and Sophie

“After the book had arrived at the printers Dahl complained that there were not enough illustrations, and within a few days I produced more than twenty drawings.

“However, Roald was still not happy, and so that the pictures could run through the text in quantity I went back to the beginning and started again.”

Quentin’s original artwork

Collections facilitator Fiona Green said:

  • As you move round the exhibition, it’s interesting to see the development of Quentin’s illustrations – from the first BFG illustrations that he created, some of which weren’t included in the book, moving on the ones that were actually used in print.

    And on the final wall we’ve got some special editions. For example, the Royal Mail wanted some stamps with the BFG on.

The BFG in Pictures is part of The Big Draw Festival 2018, the world’s biggest celebration of drawing. Children 16 and under go free with a paying adult.