Illustration, literature and making friends

With subject matter ranging from Edgar Allan Poe to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Shakespeare, illustrator and artist Oat Montien weaves literary influences into work that’s beautiful, strange and quietly sinister.

Ex Libris show poster
Ex Libris show poster

Next week, east London’s Book Club will be staging an exhibition of the artist’s work, aptly entitled Ex-Libris, meaning ‘from books’ in Latin.

Interpretation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Interpretation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This will be the first London solo show for the illustrator, who has created a number of new works for the event.

Series of Unfortunate Events
Series of Unfortunate Events

Montien’s practice has focused on the literary throughout his career, taking vintage hardback books and transforming them into sculptures using collage and illustration.

There's a boy in the girls' bathroom
There’s a boy in the girls’ bathroom

Many of the books he chooses to use explore the artist’s younger self’s issues of struggling to fit in during his painfully awkward school years. Books, for Montien, acted as a conduit through which to escape to another world.

Interpretation of The Magic Toyshop
Interpretation of The Magic Toyshop

Titles include The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter and The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

Metzengerstein by Edgar Allan Poe
Metzengerstein by Edgar Allan Poe

‘It was very difficult being a nerd at school. Making friends with boys my age has never been easy, as I always feel different’, says Montien.

‘Maybe it was my geeky glasses, my sexuality, or simply because I wasn¹t good at any sports; I felt like I didn’t belong to any group. I eventually hid myself in the library during lunch and PE classes and became a volunteer librarian. Burying myself in books, I finally found a place where I could run to, a place where I learnt how to be “someone”.’

Edgar Allan Poe Raven
Edgar Allan Poe Raven

Ex-Libris by Oat Montien runs from 9 May – 14 July at The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard St, London EC2A

Interpretation of Witches
Interpretation of Witches

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