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Maria claims Macmillan Prize for Illustration

Published: 28 June 2018 at 12:09

Maria J Guarda

Anglia Ruskin student wins major award for her illustrations of a family in exile

Anglia Ruskin University student Maria J Guarda has won this year’s Macmillan Prize for Illustration with her story of a family in exile.

Maria, who is originally from Santiago, Chile, and now lives in Cambridge where she is a student on the MA Children’s Book Illustration course at the Cambridge School of Art, won the award for her work ‘Paloma Flew’.  The work shows a family struggling with a life away from their own country and is told through the eyes of a young girl.  

Anglia Ruskin also claimed third prize thanks to Marina Ruiz’s ‘Your Home, My Home’, while the runner-up award went to Soojin Kwak from the Kingston School of Art.  

Chris Inns, Chair of Judges, and Art and Design Director at Macmillan Children’s Books, said: 
“Maria’s images have the ability to breathe life into the characters and connect emotionally with the audience. The way the family interact, their gestures and feelings are captured sensitively by Maria’s fluid colour washes and intricate line-work.”

Margaret Wallace-Jones, from The Alligator’s Mouth bookshop, said that she loved ‘Paloma Flew’ for “its warmth, humanity, hope and excellent storytelling”, while fellow judge Ben Mantle added that “it was a very difficult process to narrow down the hundreds of submissions, which were all incredibly impressive and very inspiring, and the three winning entries show just how strong and diverse the future of children’s illustration is”. 

The Macmillan Prize for Illustration, which was set up over 30 years ago by Macmillan Children’s Books to find new work from young artists and help them take the first steps in their professional lives, this year received over 250 entries from 44 different universities and colleges.  Previous Anglia Ruskin winners of the award include Jules Bentley, Gemma Merino and Bethan Woollvin, and last year Anglia Ruskin claimed all three top prizes.

Chris Owen, Head of the School of the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin, said: 


“We are thrilled that Maria has continued our run of success in the Macmillan Prize for Illustration. She’s an incredibly talented artist who has a very promising career ahead of her.”


The Macmillan Prize for Illustration is the fourth major prize won by the Cambridge School of Art in recent weeks.  Academic Jim Butler won the professional book category in the 2018 World Illustration Awards, Yu-Hua Lo won the Faber & Faber FAB Prize for her picture book ‘Pepe Wants to Fly’, while Joseph Namara Hollis was named Student Illustrator of the Year by the V&A