I'm delighted to have won The Folio Society Book Illustration Competition and a commission to illustrate War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. The result was announced by Michael at The House of Illustration in London on Thursday 25 February, and a very good evening it was too.
With The Folio Society’s reputation for excellence and some beautiful entries from the other illustrators, I was chuffed even to have made the longlist. Here’s a link to the list as featured in The Guardian.
The Folio Society makes lovely, covetable books. Quality of binding and paper and reproduction are, rightly, important to authors and illustrators, as well as to readers of course. But I went into the competition because of the choice of book. War Horse is a great story and its themes obviously still resonate.
The central relationship of Albert and his horse, Joey is key, as are the expectations of the time and the industrialisation of war that took men and horses for fodder. For me it’s not the horses that are difficult to get right (though I could always do it better), it’s the apparatus and devastation of war that is hard to fathom. Barbed wire, for example, has a particular way of contorting; a calculated menace. Together, these elements create a tension for both the narrative and the pictures.
It’s a terrific commission; it’s one of those jobs where I think, ’this is what I’ve always wanted to do’... actually, there are one or two more Michael Morpurgo stories that I'd love to illustrate.