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People in the Centre for Children's Book Studies

Martin Salisbury

Martin Salisbury is Professor of Illustration and Course Leader for the MA Children's Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. Since leaving art school he has worked for many years as a book illustrator, illustrating over fifty books in the areas of children's fiction, non-fiction and education. He also exhibits paintings and prints. In recent years he has written widely on the subject of illustration for children, including 'Illustrating Children's Books' (A&C Black, 2004) and 'Play Pen: New Children's Book Illustration' (Laurence King, 2007), both of which are now published in numerous languages worldwide.

Martin was a member of the judging panel for the 2007 Bologna Ragazzi Awards and is currently working with BBC television on a new series of programmes on children's books. He has a particular interest in 'sense of place' in children's picture books and the influence of post-war British neo-romantic painting on the field.

Pam Smy

Pam Smy is Senior Lecturer in Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. She combines her lecturing with ongoing illustration for children. Her book with Gruffalo writer, Julia Donaldson, Follow the Swallow (Egmont, 2007) was favourably reviewed in the national press. She also works with the publishers Frances Lincoln, A&C Black and Walker Books.

Pam's work focuses on narrative drawing with a particular interest in the history and contemporary use of black and white artwork. She has worked widely with children's book groups, schools and libraries, both as artist and as lecturer and acted as co-editor of Martin Salisbury's book, Play Pen.

Dr Mick Gowar

Dr Mick Gowar is a writer, poet, performer and teacher. Since 1980 he has written or edited more than 100 books for children and young people and visited schools, libraries, colleges and festivals throughout the UK and abroad to give readings, performances and lead writing workshops. He has also worked with many leading UK orchestras including the Philharmonia Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia 21, and the Britten Sinfonia.

Mick has taught courses in creative writing and children's literature at the universities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Northumbria, Arvon Foundation and Taliesin Trust and is at present a part-time lecturer in the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

Birgitta Sif

Birgitta Sif is an award winning children's book author and illustrator. She was born in Iceland, lived in and around Scandinavia and America while growing up, and worked as a graphic designer in New York before graduating from Cambridge School of Art's MA Children's Book Illustration course.

She is the creator of the Kate Greenaway shortlisted picture book, Oliver, and Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance and Dance, both of which were endorsed by Amnesty International.

Eugene Giddens

Professor Eugene Giddens is the Skinner-Young Professor in Shakespeare and has particular expertise in editing. His research is funded by the AHRC and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

He is currently writing an article about the influence of Margaret Cavendish's Blazing World on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. His next major editing project in the field will be an edition of Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies.

Illustration by Dr Katherina Manolessou

Dr Katharina Manolessou is a highly regarded illustrator who has worked for numerous clients including the Guardian newspaper, Random House, Bloomsbury Publishing and Time Out magazine. She has written and illustrated picturebooks for Macmillan and Francis Lincoln.

She originally studied chemistry before moving into animation and going on to study at the Royal College of Art in London. Her doctoral research focused on animal characterisation in picture books.

John Lawrence

Visiting lecturers

John Lawrence is one of Britain's best-loved book illustrators and a winner of many awards. During a career spanning five decades he has illustrated around two hundred books and collaborated with authors such as Charles Causley, Paul Theroux, Philippa Pearce, Richard Adams, Martin Wadell and, currently, Philip Pullman. He is particularly known as an engraver, one of very few contemporary artists to use wood engraving in mainstream illustration as well as for private-press work. Recently he has explored processes that combine vinyl engraving with digital assemblage in his picture books for Walker Books.

James Mayhew

James Mayhew studied illustration at Maidstone College of Art. His Katie series, which has introduced art to children for over 25 years, sells in museums and galleries all over the world. In 2015 the National Gallery in London launched an exclusive range of merchandise based on the Katie character. James is also the creator of the Ella Bella Ballerina series and many other titles. In 1994 he received the New York Times book illustration award for The Boy and the Cloth of Dreams.

Alongside his work in publishing, James presents classical concerts for children, combining music, storytelling and art. His unique way of bringing music to life in paint has received outstanding reviews, and he has worked with many of the UK’s finest ensembles and orchestras. In 2013 he was the Guest Director of the Cheltenham Music Festival, designing a new production of Britten’s opera Noye’s Fludde. In 2014 he was Illustrator in Residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

James visits many schools and festivals to help children celebrate music, art and stories with imaginative projects. He is a member of the Art Worker’s Guild and the Society of Authors.

Alexis Deacon

Alexis Deacon is an award winning artist whose work, as illustrator, author-illustrator and author, has had a major impact on the genre in recent years. His first book, Slow Loris (Random House, 2002) was developed as an undergraduate project and went on to be named one of the hundred best children's books of all time by Time magazine. He has twice been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal and is a two time recipient of the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book Award. In 2008 he was selected by Booktrust as one of the best ten illustrators of the preceding decade.

Alexis is a regular visiting lecturer on the MA Children's Book Illustration programme.

Our other visiting staff include David Hughes, Charles Shearer, Marta Altes and Juliet Docherty.

Illustrator Paula Metcalf with her dog, Walter

Paula Metcalf was one of the first graduates of Cambridge School of Art's MA Children's Book Illustration in 2004. In 2007 she took the role of Illustrator-in-Residence at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.

She has written and/or illustrated numerous picture books for publishers including Macmillan, Walker Books and Nosy Crow, one of which (Norma Snows) was televised for ITV's Bookaboo series.

Current doctoral researchers

Illustration by Vassiliki Tzomaka

Vasso Tsomaka is a designer, illustrator and marketing professional researching the role of fiction in nonfiction children's books. After completing a BSc in Chemistry and Management Science and a Masters in Environmental Studies Vasso spent over 10 years working in Marketing, PR and publishing predominantly in the oil and gas industry. She returned to university to follow her passion for design and illustration, completing an MA in Book Art in 2010. She works from her studio, based in the historic Dutch Quarter of Colchester, on commissioned projects for private clients and businesses focusing on brand identity and business development.

Kazuno Kohara is currently conducting a practice-led investigation into the role of relief printing in historical and contemporary picturebook-making. Her research interests include children's picturebooks, children's book illustration, printmaking, relief printing (woodcut, linocut, wood engraving, vinyl engraving and cardboard printing) and historical printing technique.

Harriet Chuang

Harriet Chuang is an artist and designer currently working towards a PhD. Her doctoral research is a creative, practice-led study of the application of metafictive devices on the creation of Children's books. Through the use of metafictive devices in her own work, she aims to demonstrate how they can assist story-telling and communication within picture books, and to establish their effectiveness as tools for authors and illustrators.

Her Masters study, which focussed on combating cyber-bullying, led her to create a social network website, ”Girls-book”, for teen girls. Alongside her research, her work as a designer has included book commissions for musicians and celebrities. She has also managed and de-signed over 50 high-profile company websites for clients such as Samsung and Nokia. She was recently invited to a private school in China, Hangzhou, to deliver a course in the creation of children’s books.

Becky Palmer was born in Cambridge in 1982, and spent most of her childhood in Germany and Holland. After completing a BA in English Literature and History of Art at the University of York, she returned to Cambridge in 2006. There she worked in primary and secondary schools for some years before enrolling on the Masters in children’s book illustration at Anglia Ruskin University. she was awarded the inaugural Sebastian Walker prize for the work she exhibited at the degree show.

In 2014, Becky’s pictures were selected for the illustrators’ exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and have since been exhibited in Japan and South Korea. Later that year, her first graphic novel was published by Éditions Sarbacane. She is currently a doctoral researcher at Anglia Ruskin University, conducting practice-based research into the relationship between comics and picturebooks. She also teaches comics and narrative illustration at Worcester University whilst working as freelance illustrator. Becky is co-founder and -editor of LOAf magazine, a small-press children’s magazine publishing work by new illustrators and authors alongside children’s own comics. She regularly exhibits and sells work at comic- and book-fairs around the UK.

Elys Dolan

Elys Dolan is an author and illustrator currently researching humour in picturebooks.

Her research interests currently also include German ‘wimmelbücher’.


Runlin Chen published her first children's book (Neighbor Stealing Axe) in 2010, which won her the Best Final Exhibition Award in her BA degree show. Chen's work is hard to confine to a particular style, she gets inspiration from childhood memories, literature and contemporary dance. She enjoys using ink, oil pastel, collage and 3D work. Her MA project is a series of illustrations based on the novel If On A Winter's Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino. The objective of her project was to look at the relationship and the space where ideas and practice collide. The project challenges existing definitions and has set the pace for her new analytical, social and aesthetic practice.