Last autumn the Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF) invited me to make some pictures for the Chen Bochui Illustration exhibition. The theme of the exhibition was ‘Once I was a child’ and being short of time I decided to interpret this very simply. I did some doodling about my own childhood and the thing that kept coming up was RABBITS: toy rabbits, real rabbits, rabbits in books, drawing rabbits,being a rabbit, eating rabbit food… I really did like rabbits.
This screenprint shows the best of my several rabbit costumes, which was a turquoise towelling hoodie with foam ears sewn on by my mum. It felt quite strange and self-indulgent to make a character so directly based on myself.
I also made a print about playing rabbit football with my brother (no actual rabbits harmed – or involved – in the playing of this game) and the two were shown during the fair in November alongside work by over fifty illustrators from 13 countries – so it was lovely to hear my pictures had been given second prize!
All the pictures are now part of the collection of the Baoshan International Folk Art Museum: their website shows all the winning artwork and some information on the exhibition.
My third book, Hilda and the Runaway Baby, published by Walker Books, is available now!
I should write a proper blogpost about this really – it has been a fairly epic process, during which I became very attached to this friendliest and reddest of pigs. However, I am printing monsters at a million miles an hour for my fourth book so I will just have to do it inaminute. Meanwhile, here is a post about how it was not the most sensible thing to screenprint and here are some places to get your very own Hilda in English or French.
The Girl with the Parrot on her Head is published in paperback today!
In other newts, today I’m also taking the last bits of artwork for my third book, Hilda and the Runaway Baby, to Walker Books. Weyll, actually the endpapers will be the last bit and I haven’t finished them, but I can scan those myself.
I am a bit late delivering Hilda: I hadn’t really realised before I started making the screenprints how challenging this book would be. I’d already printed illustrations for half of the original version (made during my MA) but ended up re-doing everything, partly because we changed the format from portrait to landscape. There were one or two vignettes I could have kept but they were the easiest prints in the book (and besides, horrors – the wheels of the pram were unfeasibly small!).
What made it tricksy was the seven landscapes, all at different times of day and night, and the three village scenes, two of which had to be made at a tiny scale because of the size of my silkscreens. I am now much better at getting two eyes, a mouth and a nose onto a face the size of a lentil – but is this a transferable skill? If you need any bespoke personified lentils please do let me know. Here’s is a detail showing lentils printed yesterday (and Hilda, who I’m going to miss).
Hilda and the Runaway Baby will be published in 2017.
Here is first smidgen of the screenprints for my second book for Walker: it’s about some monsters called Natalie and Alphonse, and will hopefully be published in 2015.
Natalie won’t always look this concerned, but, like The Girl with the Parrot on her Head, this book does sort-of feature an angry little girl – and a cardboard box. Hum. So, next book: cheerful little boy and the gelatinous dessert. Or, peaceable giant squid and the macrame lampshade.
Natalie and Alphonse grew out of these red and blue monsters, or shrank out of them in fact as they have got quite a bit younger. I am only just beginning to make the pictures and there is an awful lot to work out. When I last made a lot of simple monster-on-white prints, I found I was getting quite obsessed with their few bits of furniture or fruit: now it’s the same with Alphonse’s pushchair – he’s got five upholstery options. Oh but, I do very much like to draw monsters. NYAHAHA!