Kate wins V&A Student Illustrator of the Year title

Published: 26 May 2016 at 16:03

Kate Milner receives her award from Rafi Romaya, Art Director at Canongate (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Prestigious award – and cheque for £3,000 – goes to talented Anglia Ruskin artist

Kate Milner, who will graduate from Anglia Ruskin University this autumn, has won the prestigious Student Illustrator of the Year title at the V&A Illustration Awards 2016. 

Milner, who has studied for an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin, was presented with her award, and a cheque for £3,000, during a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  The annual V&A Illustration Awards celebrate the best illustrations produced over the previous year, and the work will be on display at the V&A until 21 August.

Milner’s My Name Is Not ‘Refugee’ is a picture book about a boy’s experience of setting off on a long journey to another country.  The narrative avoids big political issues and the worst of refugees’ experiences.  Instead it tries to express what it is like to leave your own country for a different culture.

Another artist from Anglia Ruskin’s MA Children’s Book Illustration course, Katyuli Lloyd, made the five-person shortlist with her illustrations for Virginia Woolf’s 1933 novel Flush.  

The judging panel for 2016 comprised author and former Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Ruth Prickett, the editor of Illustration magazine, Patrick Burgoyne, editor of Creative Review, Rafi Romaya, the art director of Canongate Books, and Annabel Judd, former head of design at the V&A.

The judges singled out Milner’s technical approach for special commendation, praising her combination of pencil and ink sketch-work with post-editing and colouring in Photoshop.  Even more so, they were unanimously impressed by Milner’s bold attempt to tackle a subject far outside the prevailing conventions of commercial children’s publishing.

Milner, who completed the masters course earlier this year and will graduate in October, said: 

“I am absolutely delighted, and very surprised, to have won this prize.  I found studying on the MA really exciting, challenging and demanding.  

“Being a student on the MA is like being admitted into a club of people who are all trying to help each other make the best of their talents.  I was, essentially, a women returner coming back to education after raising my children and Anglia Ruskin offered me a second chance.

“The idea for this book came to me while driving home from Cambridge one evening.  My daughter, who works in a school, had told me that the children in her class were asking her about the refugee crisis. 

“They didn’t understand what was being discussed in the news and she had nothing to show them.  I asked myself if there was anything I could do and by the end of the journey the book was clear in my head.  It’s a story which asks children from a safe, comfortable background to think about what it must be like to leave your home and make a journey into the unknown.”

Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University, said: 

“We are delighted by Kate’s well deserved success. My name is not ‘Refugee’ was developed in the final stages of the MA course and Kate handled this sensitive topic beautifully. 

“We are especially pleased that the book will be published by Barrington Stoke and we wish Kate continuing success in the future.”

The V&A Illustration Awards were established in 1972 and previous winners include Posy Simmonds, Ralph Steadman and Michael Foreman.  This year David McConochie won the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year title, as well as the Book Cover Design award.  The London-based illustrator was nominated for his cover for The Folio Book of Ghost Stories.

All of the award-winning artwork will be displayed outside the V&A’s National Art Library until 21 August.  The V&A is open 10am-5.45pm daily (10am-10pm Fridays) and admission is free.  Further information is available at http://www.vam.ac.uk/