MUSEUM COUP: Nick Sharratt with a few of his books
MUSEUM COUP: Nick Sharratt with a few of his books

NICK Sharratt, the man behind the illustrations for Jacqueline Wilson’s Tracy Beaker books, is now the subject of a new colourful, humorous and hands-on exhibition.

Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants – The Illustrated World of Nick Sharratt, opened at The Bowes Museum, in Barnard Castle, at the weekend and continues until November 3.

Mr Sharratt has written at least 40 children’s books, illustrated close to 250 more and the picture books he has been involved in have had combined sales of more than nine million.

Exploring Mr Sharratt’s passion for drawing – from childhood to his current status as an internationally renowned illustrator and author – the show features many of the well-known characters that he has illustrated over the years.

These include Tracy Beaker, Daisy, Hetty Feather and Pirate Pete, as well as a host of animals and quantities of food and clothing.

Visitors can immerse themselves in Nick’s world, find out about his childhood, what inspired him to become an illustrator and meet a host of the characters that he has created throughout his career.

The exhibition includes a recreation of his studio where visitors can have a go at drawing a selection of his characters using a light box and there’s a touch screen interactive where people can create a digital “Sharracter”. A wipe clean wall is available to have a go at drawing a Sharratt-inspired picture. A spokesman from The Bowes Museum says young visitors and those that are young at heart will enjoy dressing up in a selection of whacky costumes, including a mermaid’s tail, some fancy pants and a pineapple.

By the age of nine, Mr Sharratt knew he wanted to be an illustrator and the show includes original artworks he produced at school, family photographs of him as a boy and copies of the childhood books which influenced and inspired his style and use of colour – books such as Two Can Toucan, The Giant Jam Sandwich and The General.

The exhibition will also feature a selection of work from his college days as well as his first commissions and examples of his illustrations and packaging designs for well-known magazines and retailers.

His career is now focused entirely on children’s books, covering all age ranges and he works with authors including Jacqueline Wilson, Jeremy Strong, Michael Rosen and Julia Donaldson.

Mr Sharratt said: “The Bowes Museum has a special place in my heart. I first visited when I was 11 and I've been back many, many times since.

“It’s one of my favourite places. So I’m over the moon that my Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants exhibition will be on display there for the next few months.