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Student Illustration

V&A Illustration Awards 2013: Student Category - Student Illustrator

Student Illustrator of the Year

Grace Helmer - The Fugitive

Camberwell College of Arts

Primo Levi’s short story 'The Fugitive' features an office worker who writes a poem after a flash of inspiration. However, once he tries to make a copy of it, the poem begins to escape from him . . .

The story feels very claustrophobic and frustrating. I was working in the college studio with strip lights and no natural light, trying to pin down my ideas, so I identified with it’, says Helmer.

The judges were struck by the mood and sense of place Helmer has achieved, along with a feeling of expectation that echoes Levi’s strange narrative. They praised her strong and painterly visual language as ‘understated, playful and exploratory’ and said, ‘These outstandingly comprehensive illustrations for Primo Levi’s ‘The Fugitive’ are both bold and subtle – no mean feat!’


Student Runner-Up

Minho Kwon - The Neo Arts and Crafts Movement

Royal College of Art

This drawing series explores the powerful aesthetic of nostalgia that emanates from hand-crafted objects. By combining these old and modern objects Kwon suggests new, curiously beautiful artefacts which pay homage to the aesthetic values championed by William Morris as he railed against mechanical mass production.

The judges thought Kwon’s use of superb craftsmanship to create his ‘blueprints’ for imaginary objects was very apt, and commented, ‘The drawings give a history of their making in the working traces, providing a tension between the solid and the speculative. There is a strong conviction with which they depict something that does not exist. They are reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s helicopters, designed and drawn hundreds of years before they existed’.


Student Shortlist

Songeun Lara Lee - Bliss

Playful, clear and fragile, Lara’s visual language sensitively illuminates the short story, 'Bliss' by Katherine Mansfield. The images are spare and carefully arranged - like small and well-lit stage sets. Lara uses visual metaphor, precise placement and dilute films of colour to paint a portrait of Mansfield’s naïve and fragile protagonist. The strange sets - ritualistic facades - mirror the superficial rites and interconnections taking place in the narrative. There is an apt feeling of absurdity in the draughtsmanship.

Ju Yeun Kim - Landscape

Ju Yeun Kim’s images, derived from Biblical passages are beautifully descriptive and powerful. They are part of an ambitious series that tackle age-old stories within a contemporary frame. The scenes are dark and silent – and give a palpable sense of ‘being there’ – of putting the viewer into a ‘real’ situation. The sense of ‘otherness’ and beyond intended in the sequence is achieved by the treatment itself; a kind of wind-beaten draughting of an ordinary rather than epic landscape. The atmosphere Ju has created is loaded with expectation.

Alice Tye - Modernist Architecture

Alice’s subtlety composed lithographs explore a sense of ‘place’ – at a distance. She depicts scenes of California, but a California of the imagination – a fictional place known only through film, TV and literature. The heightened Technicolor and on-off use of heavy light and shade here, then collage flatness there, deliver an uncanny, fictional air. Hidden aspects of what lies within buildings, behind objects and beyond the frame are hinted at. The strength of the work is that the essential concept is spliced into the process of making, rather than grafted on as ‘styling’.


The V&A Illustration Awards is supported by the Enid Linder Foundation