BLOG Linda Rhinehart

NWR Issue 113

Association of Illustrators World Illustration Awards

On 30 May I went to look at the exhibition of the annual Association of Illustrators World Illustration Awards 2016 at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. The pictures were displayed on the top floor, in Gallery 2, spanning the space of five walls (four inside a semi-enclosed area and one outside) in an open space. This allowed for anyone passing by to view the exhibition. There was a placard near the entrance explaining the details of the exhibition, which had featured 2,300 entries by artists from 64 countries. There were eight different categories which the illustrations could be given awards for: advertising, books, children’s books, design, editorial, public realm, self-initiated, and research and knowledge. Both the winner in each category as well as other works which had been deemed deserving of merit were displayed. I often found that I was more impressed by some of the non-winning entries than by the eight winning ones. Some of the artists had pseudonyms or were done by a group of people or a studio rather than by a single person. Many of the winning artists appeared to be of Asian origin.

In accordance with the variety of categories, the works were quite varied both in terms of themes and style. While I had expected to see mostly conventional book illustrations done in paint or paper and pencil, some of the media used were unexpected. Among these were cloth, as in Kate Jenkins’ ‘Kate’s Plaice the Stitchmongers’, which depicted knitted and bedazzled seafood; paper, as with Makiere Studio’s cutouts of flowers on blue paper, and several paintings done on a wood background. One of the most memorable pieces was Josh Patterson’s ‘Weather Clock’, which contained illustrations of the four seasons that were inserted into a clock to show one at a time.

A few common themes stood out. The frequent use of animals (sometimes in human clothing and with human attributes, such as in Ami Chin’s ‘Mice in the City’, and sometimes drawn more realistically, such as in Owen Davey’s ‘Mad about Monkeys’). Also, the use of contrasting colour in fairly abstract illustration, such as in Coralie Bickford-Smith’s ‘The Fox and the Star’, which depicted silver and black leaves on a bright orange background. Thirdly, an interest in cultural and political events. Many of these recalled tragic occurrences, either in the past or ongoing, such as Nancy Liang’s ‘Junko’s Story: Surviving Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb’, Patrick George’s ‘Transgender’ and Pieter van Eenoge’s ‘Dementia’, which showed a striking image of an old woman whose head is dissolving into leaves and blowing away. Many of the illustrations on display were surreal in nature, combining contemporary settings with the fantastical, often in a melancholy light.

Some of my personal favourite entries included Daria Petrilli’s ‘The Lady of the Ibis’, depicting a woman with several large bright pink birds, Richard Lewington’s stamp designs showing bees and flowers, and Anna and Elena Balbusso’s ‘Richard II’, which was done in gouache and gold leaf patterns, and was intended as a book cover (for Laura Ashe’s book of the same name). I was primarily drawn to bright colours and traditional drawing styles. Nevertheless, the illustration I liked best of all was Jungho Lee’s ‘Promenade’, which showed whimsical scenes of a book being submerged in the ocean and in starlight: for me, the very embodiment of illustration.

Linda Rhinehart is an Aberystwyth-based writer.

This exhibition runs at Aberystwyth Arts Centre until 9 July 2017.


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