The Hand Book of hopes and dreams – work in progress

At the moment I’m working on images for my Hand Book of hopes and dreams, a limited edition concertina book to be published later this year by Design For Today
As you unfold the book you’ll be able to share the hopes and dreams of different characters such as an Arctic explorer, a pantomime horse (the front half), an astronaut, a Queen, a detective, a conjuror and many more.  What are your hopes and dreams? Anything is possible … Continue reading

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Delightful small relatives, a sloth called Marilyn, and my Draw It! London book

Lovely young relatives came to visit me en route to London Zoo, carrying copies of my Draw It! London book, which amongst many other things has a drawing of my favourite sloth Marilyn who lives in the zoo. 

Very exciting news!  Marilyn has had a baby.  When we visited the zoo later, Marilyn and her baby very sensibly were avoiding the public by hiding in a log, but the children could just glimpse her holding her baby and peeping out. A delightful visit!

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Swedenborg House February workshop event – a short film

Swedenborg House has just sent me this short film of my February event here.  And some of the wonderful comic strips and drawings children made on the day are shown here.


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Workshops at Heathmere Primary School

Last week some of the Heathmere Primary School classes went on a visit to central London and the City.  Yesterday they told me all about it using story maps, after I showed them different ways people have used map making.

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Workshops at Palmers Green High School

Rather surprised to see Professor Severus Snape leading assembly when I arrived to run workshops at Palmers Green High School, but then my day was full of surprises … a Suffragette librarian, witches, rabbits and all manner of book characters popped up in this delightful school.  It was still World Book Day here. Great to get some unusual celebrity endorsement of The Greatest Greek Myths from one of the Gorgons …

 The school’s fame had spread far and wide, in fact to the Outer Galaxies, and visitors from far-flung planets decided to see the school for themselves.  Would the aliens send their young offspring to study here, were they friendly aliens, or would they (as in one comic strip) devour all the teachers?  Many excellent and inventive drawn/written narratives from enthusiastic students.

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Comic strip workshop at the Guardian Reading for Pleasure Conference

Monday was the day of the Guardian’s Reading for Pleasure Conference, where I was running a comic strip workshop for teachers and librarians.  Here’s an early morning picture of my Hat of Surprise ready to go, along with assorted characters from children’s books, for participants to make into comic strips stories about overcoming obstacles (in this case the recent visit from the ‘Beast from the East’) on their journeys. Would the comic strip characters undergo a personality change as they struggled to reach their destination?

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Comic strip workshop and event at Swedenborg House

Many wondrous comic strips were made by 40 or so participants at yesterday’s Swedenborg House explore and draw event, the second in a series of events for children.

 My workshop in the Whispering Room started off with one or two exercises including drawing a self-portrait made with your eyes closed, and then erm, feeling the bumps on your head …Participants learned about some of 18C polymath Swedenborg’s inventions, and the mystery of his lost skull, accompanied by suitably mysterious and muffled sounds coming from one of the cupboards …

Who stole Swedenborg’s skull?  Why did 18th and 19th century collectors want the skulls of famous people?  Do bumps on a skull indicate what sort of person you are? Some people believed this at the time.

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Chinese calligraphy at the Royal Philatelic Society

Last weekend to a free event celebrating Chinese New Year at the Royal Philatelic Society. Disappointingly there weren’t many stamps on display – they’re very light-sensitive – but I had a chance to try some Chinese calligraphy.  Hopefully this says ‘happy’.

I learned that it takes about a month for the RPS committee to authenticate (or not) a stamp – there are a lot of forgers about – and saw a picture of the most valuable stamp ever.  It’s the British Guiana magenta, and was sold for 10 million dollars.

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Riding a Mechanical Horse at Newmarket (as you do)

Dusted off my cuttings book and realised I miss my travel writing days. Some years ago I took part in an Introduction to Racing day in Newmarket for  the London Evening Standard. The day included my riding a mechanical horse at the National Horseracing Museum, wearing jockey silks.  As you do.  The Evening Standard insisted, and sent a photographer.  I rather wished the horse hadn’t been turned up to full gallop mode at the time.

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Draw It! Monsters and a young artist

Great to see this talented young artist using one of my Draw It! series of activity books,   this one about monsters and other scary stuff.  With thanks to author Alexandra English for today’s photo.

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