Hartlepool under the spotlight as the third Northern Festival of Illustration gets underway

The third Northern Festival of Illustration opened in style with the unveiling of the winners of a prestigious new competition to celebrate the very best in illustration across the globe.

By Peter Tennick
Wednesday, 05 June, 2019, 12:57
Pat Chapman, Vice Principal, The Northern School of Art, unveils the Northern Ilustration Prize winners.

The Northern Illustration Prize, a brand new international art prize launched earlier this year by The Northern School of Art with the Association of Illustrators, was aimed at highlighting the diverse world of illustration and supporting the complexity and skilled work of established and emerging illustrators throughout the world.

Supported by The Gillian Dickinson Trust, with prizes for both emerging and established illustrators, the competition has had global appeal attracting over 400 hundred entries from every continent apart from Antarctica.

Illustration students at The Northern School of Art showing their work

The competition winners reflected the world-wide range of entries, with illustrations by emerging illustrator Dania Mah from Malaysia and established illustrator Fabio Buonocare from Italy revealed as taking the top prizes at the preview evening ahead of the launch of the 2019 Festival itself.

Entries to The Northern Illustration Prize were originally invited on the theme of ‘Monkey’ - as the School and Festival are based in Hartlepool - and artists were asked to interpret the ‘Legend of the Hartlepool Monkey’ or to use their creative imagination to create new characters or even go down a natural world and conservation path.

At the preview event for the festival at Hartlepool Art Gallery, The Northern School of Art Vice Principal, Pat Chapman, said the standard of entries had been very impressive making the job of the panel of judges, which was chaired by Chris Riddell OBE, in selecting the initial shortlist of twenty difficult enough without then having to select the final two winners.

He added: “My congratulations go to the winners of course and also to the shortlisted artists - all displayed incredible talent and creativity in responding to the theme. An international competition like this is often a launchpad or boost to a career and I wish Fabio and Dania the very best for the future.

View of The Northern Festival of Illustration 2019 exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery.

“The Northern School of Art and Hartlepool are placed firmly in the international eye and I look forward to this competition growing in years to come.”

A day of free masterclasses was held at the weekend by leading illustrators Rob Flowers, Sam Arthur, Darren Yeomans of Atomhawk, Keith Robson, Frances Moffatt and graphic artist and video director Jimmy Turrell.

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Audiences were given unique insights into the work of key figures in contemporary illustration, whose work forms part of everyday life through advertising, editorial, products, games, film and TV, to books at the event in the school’s lecture theatre at Church Square, Hartlepool.

Works by the symposium speakers also form part of The Northern Festival of Illustration itself which runs until September 15

Jimmy Turrell at the launch of The Northern Festival of Illustration 2019

The exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery is showcasing work by more than 25 world-renowned and emerging illustrators, cartoonists and comic artists including the first showing outside of London of a range of Chris Foss’ black-and-white illustrations for Dr Alex Comfort’s world-renowned book, The Joy of Sex, and his acclaimed sci-fi illustrations including his illustration for the ‘Bandersnatch’ Black Mirror episode.

Also on show at the Gallery will be work from Chris Riddell OBE, the political cartoonist for The Observer and author of The Ottoline books, Goth Girl, and The Edge Chronicles and a three-time winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, the British librarians' annual award for the best-illustrated children's book.

Work by illustrator and comic artist Tor Freeman, a previous winner of the prestigious Maurice Sendak Fellowship, whose books include the Digby Dog series, will feature as part of the exhibition alongside a huge mural she has created at Hartlepool Art Gallery especially for the Festival. As will new work from educational illustrator Derek Brazelle, whose children's books, including Cleversticks, have sold over 120,000 copies, and whose work featured in the 2015 festival.

Other illustrators on show include Jack Teagle, Nicholas Holmes and Donya Todd as well as the artists shortlisted for The Northern Illustration Prize.

Rob Flowers at the launch of The Northern Festival of Illustration 2019
Keith Robson at The Northern Festival of Illustration symposium 2019