25 March, 2007

The joy of illustration

The Gauteng branch of SCBWI South Africa had its first meeting on 3 March 2007. This very special occasion was hosted by Joan Rankin at her beautiful old house overlooking the leafy northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

The presentation was attended by a total of 22 people, three of whom are SCBWI members. Illustrators, writers, teachers and lovers of children’s books came from Middleburg, Witbank, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
The morning began with a brief welcome and introductions. Joan then told her story and mindmapped some of the important events in her life that lead to illustrating children’s books. After tea she showed slides of illustrations from a wide range of international and local books. Then she passed around a fascinating array of children’s books. Finally, Joan spoke about visiting schools and demonstrated how a story could be shown on the Overhead Projector.

Joan’s experience comes from illustrating over forty children's books as well as writing some of them. In 1991 she won South Africa's most prestigious award for children's book illustrations, the Katrine Harries Award, for her illustrations in The Dancing Elephant; Ask for Patricia and The Twelve Days of Christmas.

A key message that Joan delivered was the importance of learning from one another. The Gauteng branch intends to do just that. It plans a number of initiatives to meet, share ideas, support one another and promote the publication of more South African children’s books.

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