Spellbound at the British Library

And just look at these books!” said Hermione excitedly, running a finger along the spines of the large leather-bound tomes...She looked around at Harry, her face glowing.
— Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix

You're a wizard, Hayley.

When I was young my Dad used to read me the books and I remember the day (almost 20 years ago) that I snuck off and read ahead because I just wanted to binge read the whole thing! I used to go to the book launches and I even had a Harry Potter party when I was 11. In the last 18 months I have been to The Harry Potter Studio Tour in London, Harry Potter World in Orlando, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - The play in the West End and now 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' at the British Library. #potterheadalert! So here I am saying thanks to JK Rowling for 20 years of Harry Potter. 20 years of magic.


These days I appreciate the magical world Jk Rowling created through an additional lens, a design perspective. I am officially super jealous of the two graphic designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima who designed all the artwork on the film set between 2001 – 2010.  (A lot of this work is on display in the exhibition in Soho that was meant to be a pop up, but is so popular it is still there!)

Today I went to the exhibition currently on at The British Library, Harry Potter: A History of Magic. Unfortunately there were no photos allowed inside but I really appreciated being in the moment with the space, behind the scenes with JK Rowling. At times I felt like I was understanding ways her mind worked, and I really appreciated her twists on folklore and ancient beliefs. With the extra charm of being in the British Library, I loved seeing the reference materials which inspired character names, plant species, classes at Hogwarts and so much more. Many of them were seriously large hand painted ancient books on subjects from Alchemy, Witchcraft, Magical Creatures to Botanicals, fortune telling and more. I also discovered Jk Rowling had a cute drawing style herself, she used to jot things down on scrap paper as she was writing so she could visualise her characters or settings. 

These are drawings by JK Rowling, I loved seeing her visual interpretations of her characters. She wrote that she liked to draw them so she could really get to know the characters that were inside her head for so long. In this drawing of Professor Sprout with a spider hanging from her hat, Rowling has paired real plants with imaginary ones. 

I loved reading original drafts, alternative versions of scenes and scribbled edit jobs. JK Rowling really did create this amazing world that went far beyond what even made it to print. And that is why Harry Potter continues to amaze and to delight. 

Complimenting the literature were plenty of delightful illustrations by Jim Kay, famous for the first three covers of the series. I loved seeing the sketches, oil paintings and models that have been created in an attempt at realising this made up world. I found the below images online when I searched Jim Kay. In real life the painting of the Hogwarts express is really a piece of art. The colours are vibrant and there is a sense of magic evoked through it's style. I love the dragon features the train has, which didn't make it in the final depiction of the Hogwarts Express. The exhibition showcased some amazing pencil sketches too, including a panoramic multipage sketch of Diagon Alley which took up an entire wall, it had Animalia qualities, with not a space on the page wasted. Below is a colour version of it I found online. There were watercolour explorations of flying keys and dragon eggs too, sketches of Mandrakes and magical creatures.