The Scholarship of Illustration: visually interpreting complex narratives

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Illustration plays an important role in 21st century storytelling, and working with writers and poets on ‘live’ briefs is just one aspect of student scholarship at Hereford College of Arts. Below, illustration course leader Neil Hadfield explains the recent cross-college and external collaborations with author Nicola Davies. These opportunities are part of the scholarships of teaching and learning and application; students learn through engaging with professional artists and visually interpreting their complex narratives.


(Image to right is by Max Low, image to left is by Beth Holland)

Hereford College of Arts Illustration students Max Low and Beth Holland have been selected to fully illustrate two new short stories by acclaimed author Nicola Davies. These novellas are part of the Shadows and Light series of stories for older children and adults.

Nicola very kindly offered up two brand new manuscripts ‘Bee-Boy and the Moonflowers’ and ‘The Eel Question’ for all the illustration students to develop visual ideas for as part of their module ‘Narrative & Sequence’. In all, twenty students attempted to win the contract and Nicola and her publisher Graffeg selected Max and Beth to go forward and work with them to complete the fully illustrated books ready for publication later in the year.

This fantastic offer is just the latest in a series of collaborations between the illustration course and Nicola. As well as the two short stories there is also a stage production in development based on Nicola’s picture book text ‘The Day War Came’ published in The Guardian newspaper April 2016. This was her response to the worsening Syrian refugee crisis at the time. Illustration student Andrew Graham is working as Art Director and our Performing Arts students are rehearsing original choreographed content that will all come together for a one-off performance at this year’s Hay Festival in May and June.

Editors note:  the the performance has now taken place and was a huge success– tickets were sell-out within two days

Nicola Davies



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