It’s been a while since my last blog (I’ve been busy freelancing) but today I’m coming back with a bang …or shall I say, a swish and flick!? To cut a long story short, I’ve been to visit the House of MinaLima, an old townhouse in the heart of London’s Soho that hosts an exhibition of the Harry Potter movie graphic art – and it blew me away like a Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-bang!
Did I mention I L.O.V.E. Harry Potter? Well, if there was any uncertainty, let me assure you that I’m one of those (supposedly) grown up people who sleeps in Hogwarts pyjamas, sports Gryffindor socks and re-reads JKR’s masterpiece at least once a year. I’m also a member of the London Harry Potter meet-up group who can’t wait for The Cursed Child to spread its wings. Any more questions?
With all that in mind, you can imagine how excited I was to step into the world of Harry Potter and graphic design. Of course I’d admired the works of Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima since I’d first laid eyes on the Harry Potter franchise, but this was the real deal – a close-up with their stunning creations! I felt like I’d stumbled over a vial of Felix Felicis.
So who are these guys, you might wonder? Well, Miraphora (I bet JKR loves that name) and Eduardo are graphic designers after my own heart! They met on the Harry Potter film set about 15 years ago and found kindred design spirits in each other. After filming ended, they set up a design studio together and continued their work on movies. But Harry Potter just didn’t let them rest. Quite rightly the two decided to showcase their artwork to a more captive audience and thankfully Warner Brothers gave the okay for them to exhibit and sell their Harry Potter creations. The whole compilation is known as The Printorium which mysteriously sounds like something straight outta Hogwarts and I love that! Miraphora and Eduardo are all about storytelling through design and, if you take a closer look at the House of MinaLima, you can see what that means.
I can’t even begin to go into all the different design styles that jumped from walls, out of cabinets and even up from the floor and stairways! You could just tell that every item had been designed with love and dedication: every typeface, every colour choice, every print style tells the story of its artwork and shows that the designers had done thorough research before putting pen to paper or mouse to screen. It made me all giddy to imagine the brainstorming sessions and the (surely long) hours of design process that resulted in this huge amount of diverse artwork. And did I wish I could have been part of that process? You bloody bet I did! But because that Hogwarts Express left years ago, I went home and created my own leaflet about ‘How to become a Phoenix Guardian’. Have a look!
Anyway, to experience the full explosion of artwork at the House of MinaLima, you really need to see it yourself. And better make sure you have some time. There are so many hidden gems, it will take you a while to explore them all in detail.
The old and quirky house itself is on Greek Street, just around the corner from the Palace Theatre that will show The Cursed Child. You’ll recognise it easily by its pink paint job and the massive rainbow flag (Hello, Professor Dumbledore!). I’d say leave the downstairs shop for later and rush up the narrow staircase to the first floor where you can admire a collection of lovingly designed and printed posters displaying collective nouns for groups of animals and people (think: a coven of witches or a hum of bees). Here are a couple of my favourites:
The next set of stairs leads to the first part of the film artwork: You can take a closer look at the tapestry of The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, the Howler Ron got for stealing his dad’s car and a whole wall of posters from the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes shop. The latter ones are absolutely adorable! It’s not an easy choice but, if pressed, I’d say they are my favourite part of the exhibition: the bright colours and styles just jump out on you and the funny slogans make you giggle. Man, I miss Fred!
The third floor rounds this amazing place up with book covers and a fireplace that’s been flooded by a whole stash of Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letters. You’ll find the Marauder’s Map and an ancient edition of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’. Gilderoy Lockhart’s bestsellers are probably the most fun to look at but I was drawn to the darker designs of ‘Secrets of the Darkest Art’ and ‘Magical Water Plants of the Mediterranean’. Lots of silver-foiling gives these covers an extra touch of reality – some of the props are even distressed so they look old and shabby. Wonderfully detailed work!
When you’re done exploring, and if you desire so, the shop will give you opportunity to part with your money, selling many of the exhibited prints in limited editions as well as homeware and books. Of course the prints don’t come cheap – and with the amount of work involved they shouldn’t – but there are goods for a Weasley-sized wallet too: postcards, badges and study text books that are also beautifully designed and will keep every witch, wizard, muggle or squib happy for many years to come.
I urge you, if you can, go and see this magical place. It’s open until February 2017 and admission is free! If you’d like to see all my photos, head over to my Facebook page.
As a final tip, check out LimaMina’s website for more information, especially what times are best to visit and how to get there. And here’s the hashtag for all you tweeting birds out there: #houseofminalima. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll visit again soon but until then I say: