Exhibition illustrates breadth of artistic talent

Published: 21 February 2023 at 11:30

Artwork by Justin Worsley

Student work produced on ARU’s world-renowned MA course is showcased

An exhibition which provides a platform for some of the world’s most promising children’s book illustrators is set to welcome visitors to Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge.

The annual MA Children's Book Illustration 2023 Graduate Show opens in the Ruskin Gallery on the ARU campus on 22 February and runs until 3 March. The free exhibition features work produced by the 46 students on ARU’s MA in Children’s Book Illustration course who are set to graduate this year.

Visit the exhibition at Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge, 22 February-3 March 2023.

In what has been another stellar year for the MA Children's Book Illustration course at ARU, the last 12 months has seen students and graduates receiving plaudits from some of the industry’s most illustrious award juries.

Kate Rolfe took first prize in the Children's Publishing category of the AOI World Illustration Awards and then was named V&A Student Illustrator of the Year 2022 – the sixth consecutive time that a student from ARU’s MA Children's Book Illustration course has won the prestigious V&A award.

There was success across the board at last year’s Macmillan Prize too, with ARU’s Heike Scharrer and Jennifer Spooner taking first and second places respectively, while Kate Rolfe was recognised with third prize.

Joseph Namara Hollis won the 2022 Klaus Flugge Prize, which celebrates the most exciting and promising newcomers in children’s picture book illustration. The six-person shortlist for the 2022 awards, which has a first prize of £5,000, featured five graduates from ARU's MA in Children’s Book Illustration course.

The acclaim continued with Justin Worsley winning the Children's Illustration category of the Batsford Prize 2022 and Katarina Dragoslavić scooping the 2022 Stratford Salariya Children’s Picture Book Prize.

Commenting on this year’s exhibition, Shelley Jackson, Course Leader for the MA in Children’s Book Illustration, said:

“The standard on show at the 2023 exhibition features boundless diversity in terms of the themes, subjects and techniques utilised by our graduates. 

“The warmth and playfulness evident in the illustrations make for another excellent annual showcase of our cohort’s work.  

“This builds on an incredible 2022, which saw our MA Children’s Book Illustration graduates win accolades including the first, second and third places of the Macmillan Prize and a sixth consecutive V&A Student Illustrator of the Year.”

The MA course attracts students from across the world, and this year’s cohort includes illustrators from Argentina, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, China, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the United States and the Netherlands. 

Amongst the 46 graduating students is Dr Paula Heister, who is originally from Germany and previously worked in the UK as a junior doctor. Paula has combined her time studying for the MA at ARU with teaching Medicine at Downing College at the University of Cambridge. 

Paula said:

“It was always a dream of mine to make children’s books. I first picked up a flyer for a new degree course in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin back in 2003, when I was a science undergraduate. 

“In 2019 I finally decided to do something about it. I was offered the chance to study for the MA part-time, initially while still working as a junior doctor and then while teaching medicine at Downing College. I have really enjoyed bouncing back and forth between art and science, and Cambridge and ARU. 

“Embarking on the MA has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I am so grateful to my tutors at ARU, who took a chance on me, as well as my fantastically talented fellow students.”