Gloucestershire Echo

Radev’s remarkable story is told in book to go alongside Wilson’s exhibition of his work

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» WHEN author and actor Robert Tregoning was approached to collaborat­e with The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum on a children’s book about the life of Mattei Radev for the Radev exhibition, he knew it was an opportunit­y to create something special.

Mattei’s Story is a picture book that tells the remarkable story of Radev, who stowed away on a ship to escape persecutio­n in communist Bulgaria in1950, became a renowned picture framer in London, and friends with leading members of the iconic Bloomsbury group of artists and writers, and leading artists of the 20th century.

Robert said he was inspired by Radev’s story and to bring it to children in his first collaborat­ion with an art gallery and museum, and with Jodie Dean and Dylan Wyeth who created the illustrati­ons.

“The story focuses on Mattei’s perilous journey, on his creating a new life with a chosen family, on love and kindness.

“The intention was to make his story accessible and easy for young children to understand, to give context of what life was like then, how some love and parts of life had to be hidden.” Robert said.

Details such as Radev using toilet paper to write letters to loved ones while stowed away in a lifeboat on his way to a new life in the UK capture children’s imaginatio­n and have been cleverly woven into the exhibition.

“Not only can they read those letters themselves, as part of the exhibition as they follow the children’s trail, they can write their own in the craft activity area.

“This was my first collaborat­ion with an art gallery and museum, the story was so fascinatin­g, a story of queerness, chosen family, friendship and kindness.

“It was something important and positive to be part of, bringing this story to children,” Robert said.

Mattei’s Story, produced in collaborat­ion with Pittville Press and the University of Gloucester­shire, is available for families and visitors to the exhibition to read in the secondfloo­r gallery space.

Radev runs until September 1 and is free to visit. Visitors are encouraged to make a donation.

For further informatio­n please visit www.cheltenham­

 ?? ?? with The Cheltenham Trust
Students with the book
with The Cheltenham Trust Students with the book
 ?? ?? Robert Tregoning reading
Robert Tregoning reading

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