Tuesday, 20 December 2011
It's that time of the year: to look forward and look back, and as an eternal optimist I intend to "hold onto that which is good", a mantra taught me by my retired agent and dear friend Gina Pollinger.
So even if you are only drinking squash this Christmas, I hope you'll raise a glass to 2011 and have a great Christmas. For me it's been a truly extraordinary year, thanks to a huge number of brilliant colleagues and kind people who have supported me through all sorts of wonderful events and projects.
The bespoke Whisky glass, engraved with Ella Bella is just one of four exquisite tumblers: an award winning design and one more extraordinary gift from the Davidson family and Glencairn Crystal.
In publishing terms, Katie in Scotland went out into the world (prematurely to fit in with the Authors Live event with Scottish Book Trust); I've completed Katie and the Starry Night; illustrated CDs for Naxos and begun work on Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker.
But outside my studio there have been other capers. The year began with the launch of the Katie trail at the National Gallery in London, and continued with BBC/Scottish Book Trust broadcast in May. There were Festivals (Cheltenham, Bath, Edinburgh, Oundle, Saffron Walden and the crazy inaugural POP UP!), Concerts, A trip to Brussels, a Tesco Bank Art in Schools launch and all sorts of events in galleries and schools, with murals and Mayhew Mayhem galore!
Here are a few pictures of happy memories from the year...
One of the big highlights was meeting Piper, at the National Gallery of Scotland during the Edinburgh Festival. She was the winner of the Nessie competition and who has her portrait of the wee beastie published in Katie in Scotland, a reminder of what it's all about - engaging children. Seeing the joy on the faces of Piper and the runners up, who all had their worked exhibited in the magnificent gallery, was just great.
Likewise seeing children jumping up and down in their seats to Rimsky-Korsakov (at the Sinbad & Scheherazade concert) or hiding from the wolf (in Peter and the Wolf) were cherishable moments.
And next year? More books, more concerts, and the development of Katie and the Mona Lisa: LIVE on stage. It's going to be an exciting year!
and... (can't resist this) "A Merry Christmas to all my readers!"
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
The reopening of the stunning Venetian Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh took place on December 1st and on the 4th I was able to see for myself the astonishing building. It has an incredible main hall, with a starry ceiling, beneth which are murals and frieze of Scottish History, created by artist William Hole over a hundred years ago. Sparkling with gold leaf the almost Renaissance-like pageantry and PreRaphaelite details astound with their colour and clarity. The collection of art itself is also a joy to discover, from a tudor Campbell family tree to the deathmasks a kind of portrait) of Burke and Hare.
I was there to support the new partnership between the National Galleries of Scotland and Tesco Bank, and launch the Art in Schools competition that the Bank is generously sponsoring. It was a rather surreal day full of children and herby scones and stories and journalists and photographers. I told a favourite Scottish story, The Battle of the Birds and painted the school children a portrait of the giant in the story. My dear friend Linda, to whom Katie in Scotland is dedicated, was on hand with her usual warm welcome. And outside, Edinburgh fairly sparkled, with trees full of lights, gardens filled with skaters, the air fullof music and laughter, and a colourful fair with rides and markets stalls spilling over with nutcrackers and festive delights. And as if this wasn't Christmassy enough...it even snowed...!
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