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Drawn to distant climes

Course: MA Children's Book Illustration

13 May 2020

Beth Waters

MA Children’s Book Illustration graduate Beth Waters was recently shortlisted for the 2020 Kate Greenaway medal in Children’s Book Illustration for her book Child of St Kilda. She tells us about her time on the course, and her reaction to being shortlisted.

“The book came out of my Masters project that I did while studying on the MA Children's Book Illustration at ARU. The course was incredibly challenging but also really supportive, and right from the first day I knew I was in the right place there, surrounded by like-minded people who loved illustration and stories.

“I discovered printmaking for the first time in the fantastic print room, and it was a real lightbulb moment - it taught me so much about image making, and John Williams' advice (as many other students will attest) was second to none.

Cover of Child of St Kilda

“Then when I finished the MA I was involved in the Cambridge School of Art stand at the Bologna Children's Book fair, organised every year by Pam Smy, and through that I was lucky enough to get a contract with Child's Play to publish the book. This allowed me to finally travel to St Kilda for research, which was another dream come true in itself. Child of St Kilda was finally published in Spring 2019, two years after I finished the MA.

Beth Waters at St Kilda

“I was really over the moon to have my book on such a prestigious shortlist. I couldn't believe it when I heard the news because it's my first book, so it's a huge honour.

“I'm also just really happy because it shows that people really want to read about this tiny remote Scottish Island and are interested in its amazing story. It's a beautiful and fascinating place that absolutely deserves to be known about. It's also not lost on me in our current strange situation that this is a book about extreme isolation and the importance of community in times of difficulty.”

All images copyright Beth Waters

Illustration from Child of St Kilda
Illustration from Child of St Kilda
Illustration from Child of St Kilda