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Exciting illustration talent unveiled in Cambridge

Published: 22 February 2018 at 09:00

Viola Wang

MA Children’s Book Illustration Graduation Show 2018 opens at Ruskin Gallery

An exhibition featuring some of the most exciting new talent in the world of children’s book illustration opens today in Cambridge.

The MA Children’s Book Illustration Graduation Show this year features 83 graduates from Anglia Ruskin University’s internationally-renowned masters course, a significant proportion of whom are already signed up to publishers from around the world.

Students and graduates from the course have won numerous international awards including the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Picture Book Illustration (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017), the Penguin Design Awards, the V&A Illustration Award (2016 and 2017) and the Bologna International Illustration Prize.

Others have been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Bologna Ragazzi Awards and the highly prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal.

Amongst this year’s 83 graduates is Viola Wang, who last week was named as the winner of the Sebastian Walker Award for Illustration.  Set up in honour of the founder of Walker Books, the award is presented to the most promising student graduating from the MA Children’s Book Illustration course.

The Sebastian Walker Award was created in 2011 and Walker Books have published more than 20 books by Anglia Ruskin graduates since Birgitta Sif’s Oliver in 2012, which was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Deirdre McDermott, Walker Picture Book Publisher and Creative Director, said:

“Viola’s fresh and original work captured our attention from the moment we opened her portfolio. Her pictures combine a contemporary sense of style with bold colour with a strong understanding of artistic composition to create artwork that is truly striking.

“A concern for diverse representation and an intuition for the child’s perspective are threaded through her work, and we admire how her art seeks to explore and express the rich variety of our world. We look forward to seeing her first picture book and to watching her flourish into an exciting and relevant picture book maker.”

Commenting on her work Viola, who was born and raised in Beijing, said:

“Having spent ten years in England, I fully embrace the multicultural environment in London, to the point where diversity and equality have become my main focus – understanding where we come from and learning about other cultures.

“I see diversity as an increasingly important feature of children’s literature. I want the children who read my books to experience a wide range of information and views, so that they will grow up with their own opinions about – and solutions for – the world around them.”

Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“The Sebastian Walker Award is a brilliant inspiration for all our students.  Seeing so many graduates of the MA course, and not just winners of the award, published by Walker gives encouragement to everyone. We are indebted to Walker for their continuing support.”

The MA in Children’s Book Illustration Graduation Exhibition is on display at the Ruskin Gallery on Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus from today [22 February] until Saturday 3 March. Entry is free and the Ruskin Gallery is open Monday-Saturday, 10am-4.30pm.