Reading at The Big Weekend, Parker's Piece June 2019

Headteacher Rae invited me to come and read Umbrella to children at The Big Weekend summer event in Parkers Piece, Cambridge.  I did not know what to expect and the closer I got to the park the more I was wondering if I was going to find the Storytelling tent. There were bands on stages drawled by towers of amps blasting sound so that there was no organ in your body free from their drumming and bass. Spectators where head banging arms in the air, bodies in motion, crowds jumping and screaming. The temptation to turn around and seek refuge was powerful. But I did find it, and it was beautiful little oasis of quiet in an otherwise loud event.

This was one of the very first times I read Umbrella to a little group of children and their families. They were so lovely all sitting in rugs, snuggling up with each other as I read them the book. My tongue felt like  somebody else's, my words so cluttered in my mouth. I had to speak loudly to be heard, and my confidence wasn't great that morning, I'm so much more used to a classroom setting. They liked it and I survived it. They had a few questions. I was not aware I was about to get  a masterclass. 
Chip is a fantastic storyteller. His event was thankfully after mine, everyone would have just fallen asleep during mine otherwise! Chip cast a few members of the audience and built a great tale from bits, that the children participating build together. I was so glad I stayed and listened. There is just so much more to this when doing an event in a field. 

There is so much to learn in the skill of bringing a story to life when you have an audience. Writing a book that plays out on the mind of a reader is something different to taking that book and giving it breath in a crowd.

Adventures in screnprinting- a mini rant

Screen printing is: 

70% cleaning 
15% waiting 
  9% messing up a crucial bit
  5% registering and 
  1% printing

Thank you stencil.

Thinking about how to thank people who take risks in order to perform essential work on behalf of our societies, I wanted to make an easy to print sign which you can stencil at home and dedicate to those essential workers!

Taking the dark colours of our refuse and recycling bins as a starting point, I realised that by cutting the letters out of a print, all I needed to add on was the white bits of the speech bubble. However, on my first go,  by just cutting the letters one by one I gave myself the extra problem of having to fit them back together and this is why I added the yellow lines, so that the letters could remain in the correct position to one another. It makes the cutting slightly trickier so if you only have sissors it's helpful to make little folds when you need to cut into enclosed spaces. 

You can follow the process with the photos below:

Drawing is looking and forgetting.

Drawing is looking and deliberately forgetting.

In order to draw what is in front of us, and to be truthful we need to perform a little mind trick sometimes: we need to ignore the self in our heads that is screaming at us with it’s hand up, barely contains themselves: I know, I know, I know this one!  
Because the voice in our brain that knows how this one goes is a loud one, and it’s not listening, or looking. Think of Letters and Numbers. When you look at Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew calligraphy (if you are not educated into reading any of those) you can asume the shapes at face value,  as graphic squiggles of a pleasing shape. Before you can understand type as a words,  you don’t see words or meanings, you only see the shapes of the lines, something that is very hard to do with the shape of the letters you are reading right now. Consider the g in right now. This is not how you write it, is it? And as you see it in the middle of right all sorts of writes, rights, rites and perhaps even wrights come into your head, uninvited. Go away, we are discussing the squeeglediness of g!

Type is present in lots of person made objects, from branding on labels, to signage on roads, and it’s there to inform. So when we are drawing Type is screaming meaning to us and it is almost making us include it in the drawing as an added written text and not as an integral part of an image. When we communicate through drawing there is as much skill in what we include as in what we edit out. 

In order for us to look at Type and really see it in our environment it helps to to contrast it by having a glance at different forms.  When we see Heinz baked beens next to Full Fat Milk and Birds custard powder we engage again with that bit of our heard that indulges is finding differences. To draw without being tempted to write these names into the pictures of tins or jars or bottles of these products, it may help to draw them upside down so that you are less inclined to “read” the words.  Check the lids first! Once we can draw letters effectively onto images as opposed to superimposing text onto them there are endless creative possibilities on how we can play with expectations, and the speed at which meanings can be absorbed. But beware of type and letters in drawings, as they will draw a lot of attention to themselves!

Disregarding what we think we know about whatever we are drawing allows us to be open to seeing things in a different way, and to use drawing as a learning skill. 

Drawing is Failing at Horses

Drawing is failing at horses.
Then looking at horses and thereafter failing better

So after drawing a few inanimate objects from observation, you should start to get the hang of light and dark and geometry and space, and you will start to build your confidence in drawing. And then you go and draw an animal and it feels like you are back to square one!

What happened to all those skills and why is my horse so so rubbish?

First things first. 
Adults have seen, if not in real life, at least in pictures and documentaries a huge amount of different animals repeatedly. Although we are not aware of this, our brains are collecting little bits of information about each of those as shapes, which are species specific, which is why we can identify many different animals by their silhouettes. We have a vast inner visual library, but unless we observe actively, our drawings from imagination for each species will make us slightly dissatisfied.  We will know that there is something amiss, but it will be harder to pinpoint exactly what. 

When you draw a chair, a table or a teddybear, you are drawing an object that is not moving. You can take all the time in the world to observe light bouncing off its surface and transfer that onto your piece of paper or screen. Although a chair, a table or a teddybear requires structure to not crash in a pile, that structure can have multiple shapes and still be understood as that thing. Objects that we use everyday that we go on to include in out still lives (when we draw a few inanimate objects in a little composition) tend to have quite visible and variable structures. We can see the legs that prop up the table, the stem that props up the flower, the curve that props ups the bottle. And those legs, stems and curves come in a huge range of shapes and sizes. So even if our drawn table legs are a little bit out of proportion, the drawing could still be read as table, the variety in our inner library makes even the different legs believable

But when it comes to animals, the structures that keep them (us) propped up are quite complex and unique. And of course while they are alive they are in constant movement, which is a real challenge for drawing because the shapes and surfaces that make them up are constantly changing!

The simpler the animal, the easier to understand the structure, so for example invertebrates such as caterpillars and worms we can see as a collection of segments that form tubes. Insects have exoskeletons (their hard bits are on the outside), and because their outside structure is rigid, from the drawing point of view, it is a simpler problem to resolve. But complex mammals like horses, giraffes or your sister, are made up of an inner skeleton, muscles, ligaments, fat, and skin partially covered by hair.  Successfully rendering the shape of living mammals, takes a lot more practice, because each of those layes has an effect on the surface that we draw.   In art schools it is quite common to have Life Drawing classes. This is where students draw a model who holds poses for increasing amounts of time.  This is quite useful because this allows us time to actively look (remember drawing is looking!) and learn about the different geometries and curvatures of skin over particular parts of the body. Illustrators are constantly looking at people when they are out and with practice can do a fast render that still holds quite a lot of information, even if not on the spot. Animals, however, will not pose for you, so you have to look and work fast. 

In our failing at horses drawing exercise we will first draw an adult horse sideways from our imagination/memory. This by the way, applies to any animal. Do not look at a horse, or a picture of a horse at this stage. 

After you have drawn the horse let’s review it:

So let’s think about what we know about a horse rationally: It’s a hairy mammal that stands in four legs, has along face, a long tail, pointy ears at the top of it’s head, two eyes, big nostrils, little mouth. It has longer hair in parts, particularly the tail. (Did you know sting instrument’s bows are made with horse tail’s hair?) It’s taller than a person, the one I’m imagining is. 

Now let’s consider what we know about drawing a horse: If you looked at a horse just standing tall minding it’s own business and you drew and outline box around the whole horse sideways, would it be a a square, a wider than tall rectangle, a taller than wide rectangle?

Your horse should have four legs, ah, but where in those legs are the joints? How much of the horses height makes up the legs? The torso? The neck and head? What shape are those legs? Are the front and back legs the same? What is at the end of those legs? What shape is the ribcage? What shape is the neck? 

While you have been pondering all this things the real life hose would be in a different position now, but you would still be able to look and record the answers to all of those questions. Those questions are dealing with proportion, in other words how the part relates to the whole

Now open your browser and do an image search for horses, unless there happens to be a horse you can see from your window, that would be ideal!

Of course not all horses are the same shape, and as each moves the shapes we see would change, but they do have some common characteristics that would make them distinctive from a giraffes, zebras, donkeys  and from your sister! Every horse we draw will possess the lessons we have learned from reviewing our past horse attempts against an actual horse, and thus every drawing will get close and closer, more horselike, until one day you will draw a horse (without a rider or a carriage or any other props) that will instantly be recognised as a horse by other people. 

Then you should celebrate with a slice of carrot cake and share it on line. 

Drawing is Looking at Light

I'm putting together some resources for my children’s art club group and I though it would be fun to share them with everyone!
This week we are drawing from observation, a key artistic skill, to broaden our visual grammar and vocabulary. If you have already drawn from observation, go ahead, if you are a beginner or in doubt to how to go about it read on.

We are going to concentrate on looking, really looking at how light changes as it bounces off the shapes of the surfaces of the objects that we see. 
Pick your favourite toy and place it on the table or anywhere where it will not be moved while you draw it. If during daylight, only use natural light from one window in the room; if at night try to use only one lamp. 

Decide the angle you would like to draw and sit  or stand in place accordingly to make your drawing either on paper or a sketchbook or notebook. Any paper and pencil will do! Try for your head to remain in the same place. If you change your point of view, it will become a different drawing!

Before you make a mark look at the overall shape of your soft toy and the shadow it makes on the table. It makes it easier to see shadow on a light surface, so if your table has a lot of pattern perhaps put a piece of paper/plain fabric  under your toy. 

Considering that overall "blob" of toy+shadow, decide on the direction of your paper that best suits the drawing (unless you have a square paper) more flatter ones will fit better placing your paper landscape, etc.

I know you really love and know your toy, but when we are drawing from observation we are not seeing what we know, but looking, so please don't draw the bits that you can't see. 

Now where to start the drawing, this is where some people get a bit panicky. It doesn't matter where you start, the important thing is to continue until you have put down as much information as possible and that what you lay down is relationally consistent to the rest. Some people like to start at the fine details and work their way out; others like to lay out the broad geometries and save the details for later. There is no wrong approach. If the unblemished sheet intimidates you, make a random mark on it so it’s no longer pristine. 

Because drawing is a form of looking, how you look at something, (anything, everything) is unique to you. To draw in a way that effectively communicates how you look at something, requires practice. With wide experimenting with media, you will find the one that fits best. Some people draw very finely with mechanical pencils moving mainly their fingers, others use wide brushes and require their whole arm. Finding your tools is an exciting quest, but as we are living in the times of insides and not great journeys and as our opportunities to discover new tools are a little bit limited, please use whatever you’ve got at hand. 

What you notice about the thing you are drawing will not necessarily be what anybody else sees. What you do by making marks to represent what you do see is drawing attention (pun deliberate) to that which you find interesting, or worth telling. 

Once you have described the main bits that form your toy, start shading in the shadows. 
There is no shape without shade. So in order to give the illusion that your 2D drawing is representing a 3D object, you need to use light and dark and the range in between to describe the volumes. This is why we have started with a single light source, because this way we can take our time to observe how the light increases or decreases as we move our eyes across the surface of our object. 
We represent those changes in light by adding more and more shading or darkness(some people like crosshatching, some like adding little dots, some people use increasingly concentrated washes of ink). If we are using a dark medium on a light support (pencil on whitish paper), whereas if you were working the opposite (white chalk on black paper) you would be adding more and more light.
There might be some smudging as you work your way around the drawing, this is fine. See it pop out as you continue to add the shadows as you see them. If you are using a window and natural light, you might want to work quicker because the sun will move and the light will come to your toy in a different direction!

Have fun and enjoy this drawing exercise. 
I look forward to seeing your work so please share online using: #artCLUBwithElena 

Umbrella Book Launch at Heffers Cambridge and #wishesTogether

There is nothing like seeing lots of copies of your book stacked up and ready to go!

My friend Steve is a very prolific picture book maker and he gave me the best advice when planning the book launch for Umbrella: He said,"It is a party!" 

Now I do have experience throwing parties as we tend to have a few big ones during the year celebrating birthdays and Pumpkin Days and some such, so I knew that we needed most of all to bring people together. I am lucky to live in Cambridge where lots of book launches take place and I really wanted people to have more than one reason to come, and for those for whom this was a first to feel at ease and relaxed.

I wanted there to be something already belonging to those in the room so I started to think about how I could make the book launch more inclusive, to make it about people taking the trouble to come, and perhaps even bringing together people who could not be there. 

This is how #wishesTogether came to be. I now have turned this into a workshop, but started life as way to bring together the wishes of people I love and this gradually expanded to the participation of a whole school and members of the public.

I wanted to send nice pink disks for my friends illustrators to participate. And of course they had to be the same pink as the original artwork "wishing pink". 

The process involved writing them an email asking it they would like to participate and thereafter posting them a pink MDF disk with instructions. I was very excited and curious to see what my friends and colleagues would be wishing for!

And wishes did come from all over!

Lots and lots and lots of wishes!

Wishes from people of all ages.

So I started sewing all of those wishes together, getting them ready for Heffers...

It was so much fun to transform Heffers into a massive collection of hopes and wishes. 

Above the hanging table I hung the wishes from my colleagues, and has several progress dummies of Umbrella to show.

And then finally it was time. I was delighted to sign my first book to Zoe, who is a bookseller in the market square and a fellow ceramic artist!

Lots of people came, I was overwhelmed and I felt truly  grateful for the outpouring of  affection I felt in the room. 

I got to see faces from all periods of my 20 years living in Cambridge, and felt incredibly supported by my family and friends all of whom contributed to this being an unforgettable evening.

Sarah Pakenham, my publisher gave a wonderful speech where she  read some of the latest reviews from all sorts of publications in the UK.  It was great to talk about  the process of making the book and the total faith that Janice Thomson my editor  gave it and the freedom that Sarah Finan, the designer, allowed it.  Our small but perfectly formed team made making Umbrella a truly magical experience, and I hope you get to read this much love in it, because it has been there from the first day.  

I missed Janice, and Oli and Steve and other friends who couldn't make it, but it still was one of the happiest nights in my life. 

And of course it took me almost a year to post this on the blog.  It was July 17th 2019!

If you found a magical umbrella that granted what you wished or what you needed, 
what would you wish for? 


Heffers children's bookshop mural (or how to paint 6.5 m2 with chalk sticks)

The finished thing. By far the biggest chalk board I have painted to date!

I used string to make grid to blow up the design...

The black chalk area is 3.74m by 1. 75m So I started off by figuring which image of the book to use. I settled for the Elephant spread which is fast becoming my favourite, but Alas! We couldn't have the elephant bottom greeting all the Heffers visitors, so I had to flip the image horizontally. I used a 50cm grid on PS and made it visible and printed a screenshot so I could blow up the image.  It probably took us longer to tape string to mark the grid that it took for the actual drawing. Are you painting the next one? Please feel free to use my PS document as a guide. It has the position of the going out button and the fire alarm and cable, which you may want to keep far from important details!

Thank goodness I had help! This was going to take a while

End of first day, just before the light bulb went...

Getting a bit nearer the point when detail could be added.

I though it was done at the end of day two. At least it will be there for the summer. 

Can you spot why I had to come back and finish-finish it?

It is always good practice to put a bit of time and distance between you and your work, so you can assess it more objectively and spot the omissions.

Painting this wall was not a difficult thing to do, but it did consume a while because of the necessity to use small dry chalk only, otherwise it was a piece of cake (think Matilda)!

And the icing on this particular part of the cake was that when I came back to fix that thing that you did notice (no?) I saw Chris Haughton's latest book Don't worry little crab right next to Umbrella in the shop! Not only is Chris the loveliest person, I have been a fan of his books for a long time. And was thus basking in his light!

Unexpected item in the bagging area...

Back in January I sat with Sarah Finan in the Cambridge Library looking at Fogras proofs, the last check before sending files to the printers. By mid march, wit the Bologna Children's Book fair round the corner, I knew that Umbrella had gone to press some time ago and I knew that at some point my advance copy would arrive. It's the sort of knowledge that you can place carefully on a shelf and forget, in fact it's best to forget about it so not every envelope that comest through the letterbox becomes an instant disappointment.

I love old out of print picture books books from last century and I spend too much time looking for them online and in market stalls. I still managed to look at the brown envelope on the floor on March 26 and think "Did I buy something online? What is this?" I was slightly annoyed, why do I keep forgetting stuff? And while unravelling all that paper, the realisation came to me that this was wrapped because it was special: that this was actually our book, yes, OUR book*!!!! And as if nothing, 4+ years in the making, in may kitchen Umbrella poped out of all it's paper wrappings into my hands in all it's magic 3D-realness! And it was glorious!

(*I had originally written my but I no longer believe this.)

When I had stoped jumping, my son Oli (14) took this photo and I was so completely delighted! I'm not sure I'm ever going to overcome the delight of holding a book of mine in physical form. This has not been the first one, but my goodness, Scallywag had done such a brilliant job with the book-object itself!

The next day I was going to go to my first session of parents book club at UCPS, and because my friend Tonka was going to be there, I brought the book along to show her.  Before the session began there were lots and lots of beautiful picture books and chapter books to browse. My intention was only to show Tonka discreetly before everyone arrived, but then she showed it to Aimee Durning who is learning coach, reading for pleasure lead and (in not just my view) heart of our school and she asked me if I would read it to the book club to start the session, as they always start with a reading.... So right there and then, less than 24 hours since receiving my copy of the book I was having my first ever public reading. Eeeeek! The words felt like boulders in my mouth but everyone there was so supportive and attentive and got me through the reading somehow. Afterwards pictures were taken and the Umbrella was tweeted about by the head teacher and so, the afternoon went from "I'll just quickly show it to Tonka" to the book being put out there for everyone to see. 

I am glad it all happened there as I could not have wished for a more supportive outing.   

This outing would lead to an invitation to return to the school as a visiting author for empathy day, and thus the start of the book taking me places rather than the other way around. 

I'm holding on to the edges, and hoping it's going to be a long ride!

Ma Children's Book Illustration show 2019

I had a bit of time to kill yesterday morning and sat in the waiting room of the station and, for a change, got my sketchbook out and drew the other occupier of the room, a man in a puffy jacket thumbing his mobile and occasionally tapping away in his laptop.  Easy prey for an illustrator, sedentary and still. Or it should have been, had I been drawing with the constant discipline of the first module of the course. But it had been a while. Not that this should make me feel properly inadequate, considering that the train would be taking me to London to the Cambridge School of Arts Masters in Children’s Book Illustration show. Rusty old me was going to go and feel the pressure of the upcoming graduates, and the relief that I have already persuaded a few clients that I can draw and write before all this lot made me feel like an amateur. They also made me feel incredibly proud of our course, which continues to nurture and develop exceptional qualities now with Shelly Jackson at the helm, and excited about our expanding alumni community.

Al Rodin

It is no surprise that the cohort selected Al Rodin for the cover of their catalogue and it is the first display that greets you as you come in. I spent a while there. Al is a great storey teller with a striking and unique visual language. I could see in the effortless read of his books that story is in the driving seat of a very unique looking vehicle. In Ned Ronaldo Nubowski we follow the ball kicked by the lead character, who is a very keen footballer with appalling aim, over the wall, into crazier and crazier settings  which reminded me a little bit of Sempe’s Nicholas. Little Echo, has to overcome her natural shyness in order to save her new friend from a bear. In Lia and Lion, the girl and the lion of the title set out in search for a pet. Upon finding each other and deciding that neither is willing to be the other’s pet they agree to take a couple of beetles as such. An ending that invites the question: why would the beetles then agree to be pets?

Rosie Haine

Another book which looks at human’s place within the animal family is Rosie Haine’s Hooves and Hands. Here, Rosie juxtaposes the human and the equine in amusing and surreal ways. I love the fluidity of her brushwork and her sense of fun in It isn’t rude to be nude, and We are human animals.

  Also commenting on people and the natural, I really loved Lindy Norton’s, The visitor and The man who planted trees. Lindy has a good eye for composition and uses space very effectively in her storytelling.

Bethan Stevens

Bethan Steven’s  Home was a real treat in which a new neighbour is welcome by the inhabitants of No 100 to her new home in a block of flats. Her search for those of No 100 allows her to connect with the other children in the building while they go up and up the stairs in search for the friendly neighbour at no 100.



Dong is great storyteller who tackles the theme of prejudice in her book Wonderland, where friend characters are fooled into booking a holiday in the island of Monsterland. The heroes are stranded there and have an eventful encounter with the monster inhabitants, who get spooked by them and quickly retreat, leaving behind a baby monster in the confusion. The heroes chase after to return the baby all the way up a volcano where mud renders all creatures indistinguishable. A timely story about the sameness in others.

Adam Beer

Islands are a common thread this year, perhaps signifying a more open political engagement, or perhaps a subconscious response to sadly isolationist trends of our time. One of my favourite this years is Solo by Adam Beer, where an adorable dog used to his own company has to learn to share his island and his treasures with some visiting dogs. They embrace him and they become a little gang, but they were only visiting and is sad to see them return to their boat. Adam revisited this theme in Monster Tea Party but where as in Solo, there is a tinge of loneliness at the end, in Monsters Tea Party allows us to see the delight it is to recover our spaces for ourselves. Friends are missed when not there, but can be a bit too much when they are.
Virginia Coyne

A great evolution in this cohort is the increased presence of characters from diverse ethnic backgrounds such as Virginia Coyne’s version of the wonderful Wizard of Oz, Julia Miranda in Flora and Flo Forever and Rosie Haines Hooves or Hands, amongst others, not just as sidekicks but as lead characters present on the covers.

Megan Hobby-Kauffman

Megan Hobby-Kauffman tackles a more openly philosophical questions. In How does the world work after introducing us to a series of fantastical creatures such as the moon hoisters, Tip and Tindle lead its deep into the heart of the world where we find that what makes our world work is kindness.

Meria Palin
Politically engaged Meria Palin’s The fox and the sea follows several generations of a fox family’s visit to the seaside to show the impact that plastic pollution has in the life in the sea. We all want to chip in and help the clouds and the foxes remove the plastic from the oceans and return them to a pristine and life giving condition.

Chihiro Inoue

I also saw in the show more classical children’s book material, such as the counting book Big harvest by Ching Yang.  Chihiro Inoue’s The Twin dogs is a tale of sibling rivalry.  Twin dogs are constantly bickering about which of them is the oldest plot to get rid of the new arrival that has taken the attention of their loving grown ups. Chihiro also has an innovative take on the ABC alphabet book where she combines three concepts per letter (except for x…) I laughed out loud at “egg’s emergency escape.” Belonging and accepting ourselves as we are appear in several books: My name is treasure by Phoebe Lien. Here work is delicate and detailed, and follows a girl coming to terms with something that makes her face different, as does Yessica Beten’s book about wearing glasses because of a squint.

Sophie Burrows

There were several artists developing comics. It is nice to see diverse approach to the possible outcomes that can be nurtured in this Masters Degree as not all dummies in the show are targeted at small children nor limited to picture books. I particularly enjoyed Sophie Burrows “Crushin” a comic depicting the feelings of single inadequacy felt by a girl as she climbs down from her bench in the park and is faced with multiple scenes of a society designed for paired  people. Clearly for an older audience it is really enjoyable as it is “Get me a snickers” a collection of short comics that made me laugh out loud. Sophie has great timing and plays with expectations as a true comedic talent. 

Laura Chamberlain

Two books I loved that had older characters, in Laura Chamberlain's Malo and his lighthouse, Malo is an old man content to live through the seasons with his cat in a remote lighthouse which he lovingly maintains. When hit by a particularly bad storm his solitude becomes a bit harder to bare, but with the arrival of good weather and the postman he gets to find out that people did care about him and his lighthouse. 

Jo Berry

Jo Berry’s sensitive take on The Gardeners where an old couple tend to their precious garden until it’s time for them to go, and their garden overflows and becomes a beautiful natural landscape that takes over the spread in a feast of greens. 

Artists develop finals at differing rates. Some will produce open storytelling with an economy of line, others will create sumptuous worlds where the fabric of the compositions will make us stop and take note of the details.

Aoife Greenham

Aoife Greenham has made such a rich visual experience in her book Big Dance. Finding your own way in life to do things is a process and within this Aoife has given us a beautifully inclusive line: “The big dance is big enough for all our different dances… and that’s just the way it is. “ Aoife also has some impressive collaged mono prints.

Precisely rendered and carefully researched  in A beautifulday like any other day by Chiu-hsuan Haung, a child finds in her garden a living world of imagination helping her to cope with uncertainty.

Trish Phillips

Trish Phillips had an impressive pop up anthology called I am not a dot, her display also featuring a tablet.

Tom Zaino

I loved the humour in Tom Zaino’s The Duck and the Hare.
How can you not love the duck’s naivety in counterpoint to the hare? One of the great delights of visiting the graduation show is that you get to read dummies that contain a lot of rough drawings which sometimes contain a freshness in expression quite hard to reproduce in finals.

And Gorilla and Banana from Wang Ning where the two characters keep missing each other although they are destined to be together and change the colour of their town. I forgot to take a picture of it, but alas I am the happy owner of a risograph print of it.

Kate Winter

Kate Winter’s Lascaux on the discovery of the caves with prehistoric art, treating a non fiction subject with wonder and skill.

I have given a flavour of what I saw on Tuesday. I did not get to read all dummies or browse through all sketchbooks, that would have taken me days.  Also some dummies where unavailable because they were at meetings which is fantastic at this stage for a few of the graduates. Some of those meetings may result in offers. For the vast majority of graduates this show is, however, the beginning of the process of putting their work out there looking for a publishing home. I was delighted to meet my publisher, Sarah Pakenham, on the last hour of my visit. I feel quite at home in Scallywag, a feeling a wish upon all CSA graduates, wherever, whenever and however your books are published.    

Back in 2013 I felt I had arrived at the wrong platform on my graduation show and although I hoped that one publisher would one day "take me", I never thought it was inevitable. Hindsight and the vast range of experiences of my year group has allowed me to see more clearly that books take all sorts of paths into publishing and the shape of our careers are as unique as our work and interests.

Graduates, you have made it to the station which means you have moved way, way, oh way beyond anybody who ever tells you at a dinner party how they have a perfect book idea. It is through your craft and months of dedication that you have developed blobby ideas into viable book forms. Anybody that walked into your show would have seen a demonstration of your ability to do this. You have arrived together with your graduation year into a moment of celebration. After this week you each depart into your different platforms and you will ride your different trains that will depart at different times. It is a lonely profession but don't forget that we have one another.

Enjoy this moment, and enjoy the ride, and see you at Bologna!