Ruth van Wichelen, a young and very promising illustrator, has been awarded a travel grant by the Flemish Literature Fund to visit the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The grant also comes with a mentorship: the experienced illustrator Geert Vervaeke will join Ruth in Bologna and help her not only to find her way in the maze of publishers and international contacts, but also – and mainly – to get to know the work of other illustrators. ‘It is important to be able to see my work in relation to that of others,’ Ruth says. ‘In this respect Bologna could be a turning point for me. Will I be able to find my place in the world of illustration?’
Ruth van Wichelen is an up-and-coming talent. ‘Composition is an important aspect of illustration and is very difficult to master,’ explains mentor Geert Vervaeke, ‘but it seems to come naturally to Ruth. Her work is always very well thought out. The underlying ideas slowly unfold as you look at the images. Nothing is there without a reason.’ Ruth’s former teacher, the illustrator Kristien Aertssen, adds: ‘Ruth has a graphic style that makes use of ingenious collage and a wide range of techniques. This great variation means she can handle a whole array of assignments.’
Geert Vervaeke is a renowned illustrator in Flanders. Her first book was published in 1981, since when she has produced twenty picture books that have won her a Book Peacock and Book Feather, a White Raven and a Silver Paintbrush. Like many Flemish illustrators, Geert also teaches and coaches budding graphic talent. This year, her own artistic work can be admired at the Bologna Illustrators Exhibition.
Sabien Clement, Klaas Verplancke and Geert Vervaeke are three of the 72 illustrators the jury chose from 2,685 submissions from all over the world. The selection features both well-established figures and up-and-coming talent. Each participant is presenting five original illustrations from recently published or as yet unpublished work, which will also be collected in the exhibition’s catalogue entitled ‘Annual’.
The prestigious Bologna Illustrators Exhibition shows visitors a whole range of innovative illustrating trends from all over the world. At the same time, the exhibition offers the illustrators a unique chance to present their talent and work to key figures from the international children’s book industry.
After the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the exhibition will travel to several parts of Japan.