Student wins Macmillan Prize of Children's Book Illustration

Issue date: 05 May 2009

The Owl who chased the moon by Fridtjof Olsen A student from the University of the West of England has won the Macmillan Prize of Children's Book Illustration. This is the third time in the past four years that UWE has had a student win one of the top three prizes.

Norwegian third year Illustration student, Fridtjof Olsen won the prize for the illustrations in his book The Owl who Chased the Moon.

Emma Hopkin, MD of Macmillan Children's Books and one of the judges said, “We were impressed by the originality of Fridtjof's illustration. His accomplished drawing, confident use of colour and sense of composition is striking. He is able to translate an extraordinary imagination into compelling images, full of atmosphere and interest, which brilliantly convey the story he has to tell.”

Fridtjof is delighted to win the prize, he said, “I actually submitted two books for this competition. I think this impressed the judges as they could see that I'm capable of adapting my language to a range of problems. I was also very surprised to win because my book has no text. The story is designed to be read by a parent to their child through using the illustrations to guide the story so the possibilities for imaginative story telling are endless.

“The imagery is also quite detailed so this makes it possible to pick out new meaning and to invent new twists and turns to the narrative each time.”

The Owl who Chased the Moon is about a little owl whose world is filled with owls. The little owl falls in love with the moon so he decides to go and visit. The illustrations follow the little owl who has to climb a range of moving cities shaped like different creatures in order to reach the moon.

The owl finally reaches a space shuttle and flies to the moon. Then when he gets to the moon he glances back at his own planet. This picture is a reverse of the image on the opening page. Fridtjof says, “There is a moral in this story in that you sometimes have to travel to faraway places, in order to see and understand the beauty of your own home.”

On winning the prize he said, “It's great to receive this recognition. My book is fairly unconventional, but I guess this is what the judges liked.”

Fridtjof has already secured employment back in Norway where he will work for Gamexplore working on promotions and interactive entertainments for the major Norwegian TV networks.

Christine Hill, Award Leader for Illustration at UWE, said, “We're really pleased that Fridtjof has won this coveted award. The Macmillan competition is one of the most complex to enter as rather than submitting an individual page, entrants have to produce an entire book of artwork to ensure that that there is a consistency across the spread and a real understanding of narrative. These are the core strengths that the lecturers develop on this course. Fridtjof looks set to be a name to watch out for in the future. This award is another hat trick for the illustration team at UWE coming hot on the heels after the success in the Art of Nurture award announced recently. This is the second time that a UWE student has won the Macmillan award so we're all over the moon.”

The Macmillan Prize of Children's Book Illustration is awarded for work by an illustrator which is considered to be an original contribution to the field, and which children will enjoy.

The prizes will be presented at a special ceremony on 11 May 2009. The work of two other highly commended UWE Illustration students, Becki Harper and Madalena Pereira, will also be on display at Foyles Gallery 113 -119 Charing Cross Road, London from Tuesday 12 to Friday 15 May, 10.00 to 18.00 daily.

Professor Paul Gough, Executive Dean of the Bristol School of Art, Media and Design, said, “The illustration course has produced consistently excellent work over the last few years and this is a great credit to staff. Fridtjof's work is astounding and we wish him well in his future career in Norway.”


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