Illustrator Kaatje Vermeire tours the UK
In February 2017, illustrator Kaatje Vermeire toured the United Kingdom, supported by Flanders Literature. She made inspiring visits to London, Bristol and Plymouth and looks back with great enthusiasm on this successful trip abroad.
Impressive workshops in London
“On Saturday 18 February, I was a guest at the Imagine Festival in London, at the initiative of Greet Pauwelijn from my English publisher Book Island. This is one of the biggest festivals for children’s and youth literature in Europe. I gave two workshops to children using the familiar recipe 'Roll & (im)Press': creating an illustration together with the children by means of simple graphic printing techniques. The theme of the festival was ‘the future’. I linked this theme to my book The Big Question, in which the character Elephant asks important questions about life.
After the workshop I told the children that Elephant (because of his visit to the UK) was once again troubled by a question, namely: 'What will the world look like in the year 2543?’ A very abstract question that we made concrete by brainstorming together. I had prepared backgrounds at home (a sort of skyline of the city of London), on which the children could 'print' their vision of the future of their city. The festival was professional, well organised and everything was provided for me as an illustrator to be able to ‘do my thing’. The target audience was interested, engaged and diverse. A wonderful experience!"
"On Sunday 19 February, Greet and I travelled to Bristol, where we held a workshop in Foyles: a trendy bookshop with an eye for beautiful picture books and a lot of attention for literary interaction with the public. In the evening, Greet interviewed me in the Centrespace Gallery about the importance of picture books, my experience as an illustrator, the Flemish illustrators’ landscape, the importance of organisations such as Flanders Literature and Flanders House and, of course, Book Island itself. The turnout exceeded all expectations: book lovers, artists, beginning illustrators, designers and students responded very enthusiastically."
Inspiring children and adults in Plymouth
"The next day, we travelled to Plymouth for a workshop for approximately thirty primary school children in the Marine Academy Primary. The children were well prepared for my visit and together with the teacher had read Maia and What Matters and ‘The Big Question’. We were even surprised by a short film that they’d made: a rap in which they heartily chanted what they thought of both books. Really wonderful! Greet and I talked with the children about the books once more and then turned to a more active approach. The ingredients from the books that had been read and the Plymouth lighthouse were incorporated together into a new story!
In the late afternoon, Greet and I had a discussion in front of an audience of some hundred students and lecturers from the illustration department of Plymouth University. Afterwards, there were many interesting questions and discussions and a number of books were sold. We were also given a tour of the impressive and modern studios of the academy, where we felt a strong creative atmosphere and energy. The teacher that showed us around spoke of a possible future collaboration in the form of a workshop week with me in the next academic year. I hope these plans will become reality!
In spite of a tiring journey back on the Eurostar, the feeling of satisfaction about this entire adventure continued to glow long afterwards. Greet Pauwelijn’s passion and professional approach were wonderful. It was a very enriching and stimulating experience for me to be able to tour England in this way!”