After a fabulous, frenzied week at The Candid Gallery on Torrens Street, Islington, our MA Show was (fairly unceremoniously) dismantled, solicitously bubble-wrapped, and transported up the M11 to Cambridge, where a pared down version opened in Cambridge School of Art’s beautiful Ruskin Gallery last week (it’s open for another week, until Saturday 14 March, if you missed the London show and fancy a trip to Cambridge…!).
The London Private View had been a great success (although the wine stocks did run dry some time before the evening wrapped up: a little embarrassing…), with many graduates enjoying interest from publishers and agents during the evening and in the days afterwards. For most of us, though, it was also our first opportunity to celebrate our various and collective achievements of the last 18 months – not least that of us all having scribbled, printed and painted our way to a post-graduate qualification! Amongst all the excitement and (at least initially…) tepid wine-quaffing that night was the announcement of the Sebastien Walker Award 2015 – a prize instituted in 2011 in honour of Walker Books’ founder (after which it is named), and in collaboration with the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art (within Anglia Ruskin University), to recognise and celebrate the most promising new illustration talent. This year’s recipient was the quite-disgustingly-brilliant Dave Barrow – unarguably the most worthy winner, and an all-round lovely chap to boot! There’s a quick snap of the moment below which I’ve shamelessly pilfered from the Cambridge School of Art’s newsfeed (my source for most of the photos in today’s post, I’m ashamed to say – mainly because I am so terrible at remembering to record important moments with my own camera [my inadequate phone having entirely given up any photo-taking faculties it once boasted]):
The Cambridge Private View, which took place last Thursday (26 Feb), was a much more relaxed affair – nothing at all to do with the rather more abundant supply of wine (honest…*ahem*) and a lot to do with the fact that we weren’t all convinced that every unfamiliar face was a potential employer/an ‘industry type’ with the ability to propel one to stratospheric heights of happiness/entirely crush one with the merest word/incline of the head. There was also another award ‘ceremony’: the Searle Award for Creativity, instituted in honour of the great illustrator and Cambridge School of Art alumnus, Ronald Searle, on the occasion of his being awarded an Honorary Doctorate, in 2007 and which, this year, sought to recognise ‘strong drawing skills, development of ideas and experimental approaches to materials’ within final-year students’ (post- and undergraduate) sketchbooks. First prize was awarded to Maisie Paradise Shearring (whose talent has also been recognised by the international illustration community: she is one of only 76 illustrators, from a submission ‘field’ of 3,190, to be selected to exhibit in the prestigious Bologna Illustrators’ Exhibition, alongside Katie Harnett and Jenny Duke, also graduating from the MA this year!), comprising £500, a lovely hard-cover ‘Bright Ideas’ sketchbook, MASSIVE Award certificate, original Ronald Searle lithograph (!!!) from his estate, and a photo and stroking opportunity with this distinctive ‘Flying Pen’ bronze (inspired by a sketch from Searle’s own sketchbooks, but emphatically School of Art property!):
To my great surprise, not-inconsiderable-delight and immense gratitude to the esteemed panel, I was awarded 2nd prize (£250, Bright Ideas [optimistic…] sketchbook, MASSIVE certificate and a hand shake from the Head of Arts, Law & Social Sciences Faculty, Chris Owen, and agent for Ronald Searle’s estate from the Sayle Literary Agency, Rachel Calder…) – a humbling experience within the context of such a great shortlist. Pete Wenman, MA Illustration and Book Arts, was awarded 3rd prize for his excellent reportage drawings, and Sorcha Faulkner received the very special prize of a ream of paper (of her choosing) from Ronald Searle’s studio, a newly-created award for under-graduates only to reflect the fact that they may only just be embarking on their artistic careers (although, it must be said, that for a great number of MA students, this course in fact constitutes their first, formal art college training…). Customarily awkward photos below:
The Award shortlist also included the blimmin’ brilliant Megan Wall, Ami Shin, Joe Lyward (all from the MA Children’s Book Illustration course) Marcus Bowler, Beth Woollvin, and a couple of others – Agata and Katherine – whose surnames I am, unfortunately, not sure of. Needless to say, this evening continued at a succession of delightful Cambridge pubs…
It was a lovely way to end a fantastic evening of celebration for all that we have achieved together on the course – and a fortuitously-timed distraction from panics about our (imminently) forthcoming Bologna ‘campaign’ and, er, Life After the MA (I am assuming there will be one and we don’t all shuffle off into some great illustrator-swallowing abyss…).
On that note, I really ought to attempt to clear a space amidst the post-show detritus on my desk and get some work done, but as it also happens to be World Book Day today (hurray!!), here is a little sketch of someone showing their appreciation 🙂 (and check out more brilliant and varied doodles in honour of books at Daily Doodle’s twitter page)