My Father’s Dragon: The Exhibition / Butler Gallery  / Kilkenny
Client: Butler Gallery
Role: Exhibition Designer

Exhibition Curation: Anna O’Sullivan
Artbook Credits: Ramin Zahed (writer) and Liam Flanagan (designer)  
Artwork Printing and Framing: Bespoke & Co.
Gallery Vinyl Printing: The Poster Company  
Lilypad Tables and Stools: 3Rock
Exhibition Technicians: Frank Brennan, John Whelan & Lar O’Toole

Thanks to all the Cartoon Saloon team who assisted in the making of this exhibition. Special thanks to Cal McLoughlin and Fergal Brennan.

All artwork supplied by Cartoon Saloon and Netflix.
© 2022 Netflix US, LLC and Netflix Global, LLC
Music score courtesy of Jill Streater Music Ltd. on behalf of Jeff and Mychael Danna.


An exhibition response to five time Oscar© nominated Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon‘s film, My Father’s Dragon. The film is based on a 1948 children’s novel by Ruth Stiles Gannett about Elmer, a boy who runs away from home to rescue Boris, a captive baby dragon trapped on a wild island.

The exhibition design encourages visitors to engage with the themes explored in the film through a series of playful interactive spaces. Interspersed throughout the exhibition is a timeline that incorporates artwork by Cartoon Saloon alongside key dates and milestones in the development of the film. Visitors are guided through the exhibition by the characters in the film, creating a friendly and welcoming tone.

Text panels were printed on a recycled fibreboard as opposed to traditional plastic based panels. Wherever possible we reused existing components to reduce potential waste once the exhibtion is dismantled.

Elmer’s workshop area

“Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they involve saving an island from sinking while helping a dragon become an AFTERDRAGON! And sometimes they involve learning new skills, figuring out what makes you happy or dealing with things that make you scared.

My backpack is full of things that help me deal with challenges, my favourite is a strawberry lollipop that reminds me of home. Mmmmm….strawberry lollipop!

Have a look and see which ones you think would be useful in your backpack! If there is anything that I’m missing then please add it, you never know what might come in handy!”

Large scale wall graphics and videos alongside brighly coloured picture frames reflected the style and energy of the Wild Island world created by Cartoon Saloon. This simultaneously took advantage of the high ceilings in the exhibition space. The artworks were hung in a salon style and at different heights, with the centre line low to the ground to make them as accessible as possible to all.

Soda’s screening area

My name is Soda, I can balance 3 tangerines on my head, isn't that neat? Want to watch something with me?”

Boris’ dragon drawing

“Before I became an AFTERDRAGON I kept seeing these drawings showing me how I was supposed to look. They were not helpful. Dragons come in all shapes and sizes! I have stripes, my brother Horatio has polka dots!

Elmer helped me realise that how I looked didn’t determine if I was going to become an AFTERDRAGON or not. If you were a dragon, what kind of a dragon would you be? Can you draw yourself as a dragon?”

While exhibiting the work of Cartoon Saloon was important, we also wanted visitors to create their own drawings. This encouraged people to engage with the animation process while gaining a greater appreciation for the time and skill it takes to create an animated film.

The final interactive space highlighted that it takes 12 drawings to produce one second of animation. Here we created three flipbooks showcasing scenes from the film, as well as smaller flipbooks for visitors to create their own animation in.