In 2001, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima met on the set of Harry Potter and began a collaboration that would become iconic. The graphic design work in the Harry Potter world has brought visual joy to millions- think about the letter addressed to ‘Mr H Potter, The Cupboard Under the Stairs, 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey’, or the eclectic beauty of a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.
At 26 Greek Street, in the West End of London, Minalima are now exhibiting the graphic art of Harry Potter. Spread out over four floors, the exhibit also shows some of Minalima’s other work, including a really whimsical and beautiful collection dedicated to collective nouns (A Hum of bees! A Caravan of Camels!) The windows of the House are completely delightful, with hundreds of Harry’s letters hanging from wires to give the appearance of a deluge. More letters line the stairs and walls, showing up throughout the floors of the house to remind you how it all began.
The rickety, winding-stairs building with sloped ceilings and small windows is the perfect home for Potter paraphernalia. Prints line the walls- posters from the Quidditch World Cup, merchandise from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and endless front pages from the Daily Prophet dominate the space walls and sometimes ceiling. These are the people who made the Marauder’s Map a reality, and the exhibition puts you right into the film world.
With a whole corner dedicated to Gilderoy Lockhart (expect lots of dragonskin) and multiple bookcases stacked with actual books, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them and Advanced Potion Making, the exhibition also shows the Voldemort propaganda and lets fans cast a close eye on the pamphlets, pages and Rita Skeeter contributions to the Dark Lord’s rise. These are barely seen or noticed in the films, so it’s a pleasure to look at them up close. The expanse of work that went into creating them is clear; every single item was clearly thought through and together they make the magical world that bit richer.
The Black Family Tapestry, Mrs Weasley’s Howler and issues of the Quibbler all feature- but tiny details are also in evidence, including labels for potions bottles, and invitation to the Yule Ball and ancient runes.
My favourite parts of the exhibit are the ones dedicated to The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which is presented in different editions, in runes, in English, and accompanies by illustrations from each of the tales. A rune dictionary is also included, giving full insight to the work of Hermione’s translations- a proper nerd-fest for the serious Harry Potter fan.
It isn’t every day you get to stand in the middle of a supersize Marauder’s Map, which covers an entire floor of the House of Minalima. On the top floor, there is a tiny room dedicated to the Prophet, complete with props lent from the Watford studios at Leavesden. It is incredibly interesting to read through the pages and see weather forecasts, astrology and minor wizarding world news, none of which are picked up in the same detail on screen.
Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina feature in the Harry Potter films in several places- Eduardus Lima is the name of a Daily Prophet reporter and Miraphora Mina is a Ministry of Magic employee. These two people are steeped in the history of JK Rowling’s universe and the staff in the exhibit are knowledgeable and determined to help visitors have as much fun as possible.
Entry to the exhibition is free, and you can meander about the building for as long as you choose. Unfortunately, because of the building layout, the exhibition isn’t wheelchair accessible, which is a true pity. If you do choose to go, it’s worth avoiding rush hour times so that you can admire the details. Prints, posters and stationery are available for purchase in the House. The exhibition is open until February 2017.