V&A Illustration Awards – In conversation with Laura Winstone (Student Shortlist 2020)


National Art Library
February 9, 2021

Laura Winstone’s kaleidoscopic collages began with a visit to the Delft Museum in Holland and later took inspiration from the collections of many British museums including the V&A and the Ashmolean Museum.

The Catmolean Museum by Laura Winstone ©

Shortlisted for Student Illustrator of the Year 2020, Laura’s collages are part of her unpublished children’s book The Catmolean Museum.

The Catmolean Museum by Laura Winstone ©
The Catmolean Museum by Laura Winstone ©

This joyful book is a celebration of world culture and craftsmanship. I recently caught up with Laura to learn more….

Congratulations on being shortlisted for the Student Illustrator of the Year Award! Our judges thought your work was a joy to behold and described the series as “playful, witty and fun”. Can you tell us more about The Catmolean Museum?

Thank you, I am so happy, it was such an honour to have been selected, especially as I love the V&A museum, it is a source of great inspiration for my work. I am so pleased my illustrations have been described in this way.

The Catmolean Museum by Laura Winstone ©

The Catmolean Museum is a non fiction children’s book, set in an imaginary museum filled with cats and wonderful artefacts. It celebrates culture, world art and beauty in decorative objects. Find interesting facts and spot different items as you follow the black cat through the different yet familiar rooms.

It is yet to be published but I hope to gain interest this year.

The Catmolean Museum by Laura Winstone ©

How would you describe your style and technique?

Colour, pattern and collage are the main elements in my work, I have a textiles background which often comes through my illustrations. Using colour and pattern is so natural and the effects can be great.

I aim to create fun, bold and joyful illustrations, to make people smile and bring more colour into the world.

My projects usually start with observational drawing and collage as this gives a good foundation to my work. I visited the V&A and Fitzwilliam museum to carry out observational work for my Catmolean project.

Following this stage I play and experiment with my observational drawings using different techniques and colour. Sometimes I will try printmaking as I love the screen printing process but usually I will use paper collage as it is such a fun technique.

The Catmolean Museum by Laura Winstone ©

I have recently been developing a digital approach to collage which has been successful, although I think I will always prefer the physical process of using paper and scissors.

Collage by Laura Winstone ©

As well as being shortlisted for the V&A’s Award, you’re also a Golden Pinwheel finalist 2020 and have received a QEST Scholarship! We’d love to hear more about these two accolades…

I am very lucky to have been shortlisted for The Golden pinwheel, It was a shock, but I am so happy that The Catmolean illustrations have been so well received across the world. It is so nice to be shortlisted with so many other wonderful illustrators.

QEST is a wonderful organisation which celebrates Great British craft and I am so proud to be a Qest Scholar. They have provided me with great advice, helped me to complete my final year of my Masters and given me a confidence boost.

There are some brilliant opportunities out there and my advice is just apply as you never know what the judges are looking for!

Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?

Travelling, visiting museums, markets and different places is a great source of inspiration for me. Collecting oddities I find in charity shops and on my travels fill my home, these decorative items often feature in my artwork. A small object can transport you to another place, inspire a new project or move you to try a different technique. Of course my cat Rosie was a big inspiration for the cats in the Catmolean Museum.

Next in line is a project I would like to develop inspired by my wooden Japanese doll collection as well as the wonderful collections of ceramic animal ornaments I have seen in the museums.

Ginger Jar Illustrated by Laura Winstone ©

Which illustrators do you most admire?

I love artists and illustrators who use printmaking or collage, especially with a vintage feel, I relate to the process and admire the different combinations and colours they bring. 1950 and 60’s illustrators like Dahlov Ipcar, Mary Blair, Rodger Duvoisin and more contemporary illustrators; Jana Glatt, Joohee Yoon are fantastic at using colour and pattern. Not forgetting there are so many great illustrators I met on my masters.

Many ceramicists and fine artists such as Grayson Perry and Matisse or fashion designers and textiles makers such as Marimekko bring me a lot of inspiration and joy

What projects have you been working on since graduating from the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University?

I am so happy to have received my first book commission working with the amazing Cicada on a non-fiction narrative book about ancient Egyptian afterlife, which will be featuring a few cats too! It will be out in Autumn 2021 and I can’t wait!

Since graduating I have been working on some larger scale collage illustrations inspired by the vase and ceramics collections in the V&A and other museums.

Greek Vases illustrated by Laura Winstone ©

This has lead to a few commissions and encouraged me to develop a small online shop which has been really great. I hope to bring my illustrations to life in decorative ceramics, so have joined a pottery class, which I am excited to explore further.

My big aim this year is to reach out to publishers, who would be interested in publishing The Catmolean Museum, I had so much fun with this book and I would really like to share it with the world, celebrating our museums.

The 2020 Student category judges were Sheri Gee, Art Director at The Folio Society and Yehrin Tong, Illustrator and past winner of the V&A Illustration Awards.

See more of Laura’s work on her website at www.laurawinstone.co.uk and on Instagram @Laura__winstone

Thank you to everyone who entered the 2020 Awards, our online gallery can be found at https://illustration-awards.vam.ac.uk/gallery/jkvONDqX

The V&A Illustration Awards 2022 will open to entries later this year (exact date TBC). Sign up to our newsletter for the latest updates: https://www.vam.ac.uk/info/va-illustration-awards#sign-up-to-our-newsletter

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