Earlier this week I joined other authors and illustrators to run workshops at this year’s ShoutSouth festival, held at London South Bank University and organised by CWISL. Young people from eight south London schools took part in this fantastic story making event. What a buzz of energy despite extreme heatwave conditions – marvellous!
From my archive, an Emergency Travel Kit of small books for children I illustrated and designed, published by Puffin. Much later, I was a freelance travel writer for a while for broadsheet newspapers and travel magazines. My column for the Independent on Saturday led to my sailing on a Tall Ship from Cornwall to Lisbon and writing a feature about it, amongst other projects.
Later this year I’ll be running exciting workshops for children/families at mysterious Swedenborg House in London. More images from my interactive material here.
After the horrific news about Manchester this morning, I couldn’t settle to work and went out. A Big Issue seller was standing on the corner of Seven Dials in Covent Garden with the latest edition, headlined Tiger Woman, the incredible life of Judith Kerr. I bought a copy, and the man and I got chatting. He did most of the talking.
C has been sleeping rough since losing his job and home in the Wirral. “There are seven of us who’ve lost our homes, we sleep together in such-and-such Street and we look out for each other,” he told me, “it’s surprising what you get used to if you have to. There are business people around – we call them the Blue Suits – who insult us for being homeless, but I say to them ‘you’re only two pay cheques away from being like us!'” C is a heritage stonemason, originally from County Clare. “When I got to London from the Wirral I managed to get a job as a brickie on building sites, but I was too slow, I’m a trained craftsman you see, I’m used to working on listed buildings,” he explained.
C talked about his tough childhood in Ireland, architecture in London, and about County Clare. I mentioned Grace O’Malley. I’d visited Clare years ago to write about this 16th century pirate queen who controlled that part of the west coast. “Irish women,” said C, “they’re strong!” All the time he was talking, I noticed how positive he seemed despite his difficulties. “I’ve got a job!” he suddenly burst out, “I’m starting in July, doing restoration work on the Houses of Parliament!” he beamed. “And … my wife’s speaking to me again!”
If you can’t find a Big Issue seller you can subscribe.
*Big Issue later picked up on this and asked if they could use it. It appeared as their Comment of the Week on June 1st 2017.
What a delight to take part in Barnes Children’s Book Festival yesterday, not only to see fantastic drawings by children at my Draw It! Pirates workshop but to revisit Barnes, where I once lived with my small family in a granny-flat overlooking Barnes Common many years ago.
Thanks to Chrysoulla Photography for this booksigning photo
There were added bonuses of a chance encounter with the Cat in the Hat, and chatting with other authors/illustrators in the Green Room before our workshops. Here’s Rebecca Ashdown, and Sophie Thompson wearing a pirate workshop hat.
My assigned volunteer helper J was brilliant, and my crew’s pirate portraits, sea monsters and treasure maps were pretty impressive – Arrr!
Posted in Books, Events, Workshops
Tagged Barnes, Barnes Children's Literature Festival, Barnes Common, Bloomsbury Childrens Books, Cat in the Hat, chrysoulla photography, Draw It! Pirates, maps, pirate hats, pirates, rebecca ashdown, skull and crossbones, sophie thompson, treasure maps, workshop
Walked round Copenhagen, climbed towers, and followed in the footsteps (except he rode his horse) of Peter the Great up the twisting cobbled ramp of the Round Tower, referred to by Hans Christian Andersen in his fairy tales. Then tea at the waterside Black Diamond Library cafe.
Posted in Drawings, Sketchbooks, Travels
Tagged astronomer, astronomy, bicycles, Black Diamond Library, Danish Music Museum, Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen, islands, musikmuseem, Oresund, Peter the Great, Starry Castle, Stjerneborg, Sweden, The Comic Strip History of Space, The Round Tower, travel, Tycho Brahe, Tycho Brahe Museum, Ven, Vesterbro, visitcopenhagen, yellow
Notes/drawings from the Dorset coast, the Thames foreshore and work in progress
Posted in Drawings, Handwriting, Sketchbooks, Travels, Work in progress
Tagged All Hallows by the Tower, North Sea, notebook drawings, notebooks, Sputnik, stories, Thames, Thames foreshore
Posted in Books, Drawings, Handwriting, Sketchbooks, Work in progress, Workshops
Tagged astronomer, Bloomsbury, Clerkenwell, Cold Bath Fields, eighteenth century, inventor, leporello, London, map, museums, mystery, notebooks, relics, Swedenborg, Swedenborg House, Swedenborg's skull, treasure hunt, workshops
Busy day last week at Wembley Primary School (of about 900 pupils) running five workshops with five different classes of enthusiastic Year 4 children, showing and talking about my Draw It! London book and The Comic Strip Greatest Greek Myths, both published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
Two of the workshops were all about the tunnels running underneath London, and what you might discover in them. Children worked together and drew their surprising ideas … a time tunnel? Goldmines, a tunnel full of seawater, dinosaurs, a theme park and a bevy of ghosts all made their appearances. Then everyone linked their tunnels to make fantastic underground networks …
Posted in Books, Comic strips, Workshops
Tagged Bloomsbury Childrens Books, comic strip workshops, comic strips, Draw It! London, drawings, story workshops, the Comic Strip Greatest greek Myths, tunnels, Wembley Primary School, workshops
Lovely Mother’s Day yesterday with fab daughter in the sunshine. Even got a cup of tea in bed! Here she is last summer with friendly hound.