Happy 90th Birthday Shirley Hughes!

"A book is a little theatre." - Shirley Hughes

The wonderful Shirley Hughes celebrates her 90th birthday today and I'm marking the occasion by re-reading Helpers, a book from my own childhood that is still on my bookshelf for the little ones to enjoy. I listened to an interview with Shirley from BBC Woman's Hour this week in which Shirley talks about how she draws from life. She describes studying how groups of children interact, how they cluster together to look at something minute and then jump up and 'run like a flock of birds'. I love the detail she sees and communicates in her artwork. It inspires me to look more and to really think about the how people move and stand and how I can bring this into my work more.

Shirley also talks about how she hopes children will slow down to absorb visual language in picture books before they can read, ideally while sitting on a parent's lap snuggled up. Looking back at Helpers, one spread in particular caught my eye. The feeling of love in this image is communicated simply in the movement of the children rushing towards their mum and her bending to greet them. Just wonderful.


Looking at the book also reminded me of the BBC programme I watched last year about Shirley's life. This clip shows a little look behind the scenes at the publication process and how Shirley's editor and designer work closely with her to create her books. I really hope I'm as involved and passionate about my illustration when I turn 90!

Happy birthday Shirley!

The moment of truth for the new Alfie book, Shirley Hughes, What Do Artists Do All Day? - BBC Four

Shirley's publisher and designer come round to discuss the finer details of the new book.