The exhibition ‘Princess Arabella at the Kunsthal’ presents twenty-five original drawings and a number of new illustrations featuring the various characters from the series. Freeman’s children’s book series – the first book of which was published in 2008 and awarded the ‘Leespluim’ book prize – consists of sixteen picture books in which the princess experiences everyday adventures. She goes to school for the first time, visits a museum, has her hair done, gets a brother and a sister, and has tea with ‘Omi’, her grandmother.
In the exhibition, visitors are invited to go in search of Arabella’s little crown, which went missing just as she was about to visit Omi. This short narrative takes visitors on a playful quest that ends in the KunsthalLAB. Here the families and children can create their own little crowns and then have their picture taken with Princess Arabella and Omi in a special set inspired by the book. They can also colour in the drawing ‘Princess Arabella at the Kunsthal’, designed by Freeman. And, of course, the books will also be available: in the special reading nook in the exhibition both young and old can read the series of picture books.
Freeman was prompted to develop the character of Princess Arabella after hearing of a little Surinamese girl who was convinced that princesses could only be white and blonde. The girl had declined playing a princess in a school play as she did not consider herself to be a suitable choice for the role. “There is no such thing as a little Black princess, is there?” she argued. Freeman decided to change this and create a picture book about a little Black princess. With her picture books, in which the main characters are often children of colour, Freeman aims to show more diversity.
Mylo Freeman is a writer and illustrator of children’s books. She grew up in The Hague and graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. By now, Freeman has over sixty children’s books to her name, including the series about Princess Arabella, which has been published around the world in countries such as the United Kingdom, Nigeria, the United States, and Brazil.