Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Picturebook in Progress at Edinburgh College of Art

Last November a group of illustration students from Edinburgh College of Art visited the Seven Stories collections department and visitor centre as part of the Picturebook in Progress project.

The students viewed a range of archive material relating to how homes and families are represented in picturebooks, including work by Sarah Garland, Shirley Hughes and Kim Lewis, amongst others.

After returning to University, the students set to work on a brief to take a secondary character from one of the books they studied and illustrate a new home for them to inhabit. The project culminated in an exhibition of the new work that ran from 4 – 21 April at the College of Art.

There were some fantastically creative responses to the collection on display, including some surprising reinterpretations of classic picturebooks.

Yasmine Pirouz reworked Jan Ormerod’s Sunshine into a contemporary comic book, told from the point of view of a toy.

Laura Darling took a character from David Almond’s My Dad’s a Birdman and developed a new subplot in which he struggles to find a new job after the culmination of the book. In the ambiguous ending to her story, the character seems to be in the verge of a new life in the theatre.

After viewing artwork by Angela Barrett for The Snow Queen, Wenjin Lu took a minor character and imagined how their story might unfold.

Judith Kerr’s classic picturebook The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been interpreted in many ways. Maria Stoian’s version presents the tiger as a metaphor for depression, visiting the character of the mother unannounced.

As well as the illustrators featured here, other students took inspiration from work by Leila Berg, Helen Craig and Faith Jaques.

To see further examples of how the Seven Stories Collection has inspired illustration students, visit the Picturebook in Progress exhibition, on show at the Seven Stories visitor centre until June.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Gillian McClure Visits Seven Stories

Last week saw a visit to the Seven Stories Collections Department from author / illustrator Gillian McClure.

Gillian McClure at the Seven Stories Collections Department

Over the years Gillian has donated finished and preliminary artwork for many of her titles to the Seven Stories Collection, giving a comprehensive insight into her creative process, from first ideas through to finished artwork.
Her archive also displays a wonderful mastery of different media, including watercolour, acrylic and coloured glazes.

Gillian was visiting to be interviewed as part of the Picturebook in Progress project, with her insights to be used as part of a digital learning resource currently in development for aspiring illustrators.

One of the main topics of discussion was Gillian’s illustrations for Tog the Ribber, a uniquely scary and innovative picturebook written by her father Paul Coltman.

While discussing the origins of the book, Gillian surprised us all by revealing her early artwork for the first draft of the book which stands in complete contrast to the version which hit the shelves in 1985.

Artwork from the first draft of Tog the Ribber

The black and white crosshatching and colour wash give the first draft a completely different texture to the published artwork, while Gillian went onto explain that the final version’s wonderful depth came from constant experimentation with masking fluid and acrylic paint.

Most interestingly of all, the first draft lacks the outright nightmarish quality of the final artwork, Gillian herself admitting that she felt too protective towards the main character in this early version. A combination of allowing the skeletal character of Tog more prominence in the story and the introduction of page borders dividing safety and peril give the finished book a genuinely haunting quality.

Artwork from the first draft of Tog the Ribber

Final artwork for Tog the Ribber

Gillian has kindly donated the artwork for the first draft of Tog the Ribber to the Seven Stories Collection where it will sit alongside the final artwork, providing a deeper insight into an endlessly interesting book.

Learn more about Gillian McClure by visiting her website http://www.gillianmcclure.com and blog http://gillianmcclure.blogspot.co.uk

To book a visit to Seven Stories Collection department or learn more about the forthcoming Picturebook in Progress Digital Learning Resource, please contact collections@sevenstories.org.uk

Limited Copies of Tog the Ribber signed by Gillian McClure are available to buy in the Seven Stories Bookshop. Please email bookshop@sevenstories.org.uk or call 0191 261 2000 to order.