Triple success for children’s book illustrators

Published: 12 February 2016 at 13:09

Night, by Jane McGuinness

Jane lands Sebastian Walker Award as two graduates makes Waterstones shortlist

Untitled PageJane McGuinness has been named as the winner of the 2016 Sebastian Walker Award for Illustration at the same time as last year’s winner, David Barrow, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2016.

The Sebastian Walker Award was created in 2011 to celebrate new talent in children’s illustration and is run in collaboration with the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University. 

Set up in honour of Walker Books’ founder Sebastian Walker, it aims to discover and celebrate promising new illustration talent.  The award, along with a cheque for £500, was presented in London last night by Mirabel Cecil, Sebastian Walker’s sister.

Jane, originally from North Berwick in Scotland, has been based in Birmingham since 2004.  Having worked as a bookseller and freelance illustrator, Jane began the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin 18 months ago.  She said: 

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have won the Sebastian Walker Award.  

“The Children’s Book Illustration MA has been a life-changing experience for me, and I feel my work has developed so much over the past few months, thanks to being part of an environment that's jam-packed with creative, talented and supportive people.  I can only give my sincerest thanks to the course leaders, lecturers and classmates who have helped me get this far.

“As a publisher, Walker Books have always seemed to me to have a very strong picture book tradition, while also being unafraid of investigating exciting new ways of working.  I couldn’t be happier about the fact that they’ve shown this level of confidence in my work, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year or two has in store for me.”

Deirdre McDermott, Walker Books Picture Book Publisher, said: 


“Jane’s work captivated us from the moment we first opened her portfolio.  Her pictures are full of joy and humour which is equally matched by her uplifting colour palette. 

“Jane’s illustrations clearly demonstrate her love of the natural world, her compositions appear effortless and we love how she uses space in her art.  We have no doubt that Jane has a promising career as a successful picture book illustrator ahead of her and we can’t wait to see her first picture book.”

Meanwhile David Barrow, who graduated from Anglia Ruskin’s MA Children’s Book Illustration course last year and won the 2015 Sebastian Walker Award, has made the shortlist for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for his book Have You Seen Elephant? (Gecko Press). 

And David is joined on the shortlist by fellow MA graduate Matty Long.  Matty’s debut picture book Super Happy Magic Forest has been published by Oxford University Press.

Regarded as one of the leading children’s book awards, the competition boasts a top prize of £5,000 and the winner will be announced during a ceremony at Waterstones Piccadilly in London on Thursday, 17 March.

A showcase of the work of the 2016 graduates from the MA Children’s Book Illustration course will be on display at the Ruskin Gallery on Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus from Thursday, 25 February until Saturday, 5 March (10am-4.30pm).  For further information and examples of the art on display, visit www.cambridgeMAshow.com