An evening of brilliant down-to-earth inspiration last night at the IBBY Ireland Annual Lecture. Deborah Soria of IBBY Italia told the story behind the Silent Books project, which started in 2011 with her simple desire to offer practical help to refugee children arriving on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. Her vision has materialised into a library on the island and spawned projects all over the world that use IBBY’s travelling set of Silent Books. Deborah showed how the books have provided common ground and built friendships between islanders and refugees by offering a silent space where migrants are equals, not victims needing the help of do-gooders.
‘It’s a library for everyone. We can’t do things for migrants but for people. Migrants are people like others and have to be in the middle of everything else ... if you want to be famous, don’t come to Lampedusa. For me you’re just a person.’
Deborah’s love of silent books is shared, unsurprisingly, by IBBY Ireland Patron P.J. Lynch. The multi-award winning illustrator and former Laureate Na nÓg spoke of the power beyond words of pictures. More surprisingly, he admitted that he has yet to find the ‘courage’ to tell a story entirely in pictures. We look forward to it!
Liz Page, IBBY International Executive Director, shared some of the work of IBBY around the world, from ‘Growing Stories’ in Peru where children create stories around the planting of vegetables in their school gardens, to reading promotion in Zimbabwean schools and collecting folk tales in Nepal.
Rounding off Refugee Week at Dublin City University (DCU), Dr. Áine McGillicuddy, Director of the Centre for Translation and Textual Studies, described some of DCU’s initiatives as Ireland’s first University of Sanctuary where those seeking asylum are offered hospitality and support, including scholarships and a storytelling project.
A huge thank you to all the speakers for reminding us how children’s books can help us be and do better, and to DCU for providing the venue and support for a wonderful evening.
Wexford County Council in partnership with Creative Ireland, Visual Artist Ireland and Gorey School of Arts is delivering a series of Professional Development Workshops in County Wexford during Spring 2019, special rates are available to Wexford based artists. Please book early as places are limited.
These professional development training workshops support artists in their practice and aim to address artists’ specific business needs working in a professional environment. Workshops will cover areas such as marketing, securing funding, managing your accounts and individual mentoring sessions.
Theses workshops will be delivered in two venues: Wexford County Council, Carricklawn and Gorey Schools of Arts. See dates and times below.
HOW TO APPLY FOR FUNDING WITH NEVA ELLIOTT
Date: 4th March 2019
Fee: €20 (Wexford based artists)
For further details: https://visualartists.ie/professional-development-_/#!event/2019/3/4/how-to-apply-for-funding-with-neva-elliott
MANAGING YOUR ACCOUNTS WITH GABY SMYTH
Date: 1st April 2019
Fee: €20 (Wexford based artists)
For further details: https://visualartists.ie/professional-development-_/#!event/2019/4/1/managing-your-accounts
FINANCIAL ADVICE CLINIC FOR WEXFORD BASED ARTISTS WITH GABY SMYTH – PERSONAL SESSION
Date: 1st April 2019
Time: 13:45-14:00 / 14:00-14:15 / 14:15-14:30
Places: 1 person for each time slot
Fee: (Included in morning workshop ‘Managing your accounts’ with Gaby Smyth – limited slots available)
For further details: https://visualartists.ie/professional-development-_/#!event/2019/4/1/financial-advice-clinic-with-gaby-smyth-personal-session
GOREY SCHOOL OF ART
HOW TO PRESENT YOU AND YOUR WORK – DIGITAL MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS WITH EMMA DWYER
Date: 4th February 2019
Fee: €20 (Wexford based artists)
For further details: https://visualartists.ie/professional-development-_/#!event/2019/2/4/how-to-present-you-and-your-work-digital-marketing-and-communications
VISUAL ARTISTS CAFÉ
Find out about supports for visual artists in your local area.
Learn about current events and news from the visual arts world.
Hear from fellow artists in your are about their work and directions that they are exploring.
Date: 29th April 2019
Information clinic and workshops style event. Morning session includes presentations by Liz Burns (Wexford County Arts Officer), Paul Carter (Director of Gorey School of Arts) and VAI representative on opportunities for Wexford artists, locally, regionally and nationally.
Afternoon session will include a ‘Show & Tell’ event. This is a fast-paced presentation by up to 10 artists on their current work, areas of interest, or concepts that they are currently exploring in their practice. The format is also open to curators, writers, and artistic directors to show their current ideas or modes of engagement.
We were sorry to say goodbye to the children’s author and illustrator John Burningham, who passed away on 4 January at the age of 82. He was the author and illustrator of a number of the classic children’s titles of the 20th century, including: Borka, Mr. Grumpy’s Outing and Oi! Get off our Train.
His books have been well loved for years, not only for their beautiful artwork but also for the timeless insight and empathy they show for the world of a child. His 1984 book Granpa looks at the special relationship between a grandparent and child and sensitively addresses the issue of loss. Come Away from the Water, Shirley, published in 1977, shows us the internal world of a child in contrast with the language and intentions of less than attentive parents.
John Burningham came to illustration by accident after a chance meeting with a friend who was studying at the Central School of Art. His early work included puppets for animations and posters for London transport before he began writing and illustrating books for children. The success of these may be in part due to the way they leave a space between the image and the written narrative, allowing for an imaginative gap that can be filled by the reader.
Even at a point where he was well established in his career, John Burningham’s illustrations continued to develop. He was not afraid to experiment with media and produced more experimental titles - England (1992), Cloudland (1996) and France (1998) - in his later career.
John Burningham was married to the illustrator Helen Oxenbury for over 50 years. He was twice awarded the Kate Greenaway medal and in 2018 he and Helen Oxenbury were jointly awarded the BookTrust’s lifetime achievement award for their outstanding contribution to children’s literature.
Photo: IBBY Honour List recipients at the Athens Congress, including Máire Zepf, author of the picture book Ná Gabh ar Scoil! Also Honour-listed was Kevin Stevens for his young adult novel A Lonely Note.
It’s been a busy and fruitful year for IBBY Ireland with a new collection, a touring exhibition, award nominations and the establishment of the IBBY Ireland Annual Lecture.
Granted! We were delighted and grateful to receive Arts Council funding this year. One of the benefits has been our purchase of a set of Silent Books, the wordless international picture books that first came together on the island of Lampedusa for use by refugees and locals. The fifty books in IBBY Ireland’s set are part of the most recent 2017 collection and include Owl Bat Bat Owl by Irish illustrator and author Marie Louise Fitzpatrick. The set will be available for hire in the new year by anyone wanting to explore these stories beyond words. In 2018 such groups have included Syrian refugees who used the books to learn English; librarians; primary and secondary school teachers; school-home liaison workers, and people with disabilities.
Special Collection: this set of outstanding books for and about young people with disabilities toured Irish libraries in the spring. IBBY Ireland’s Tatyana Feeney and Debbie Thomas explored the books in workshops with primary school pupils, touching, signing, sniffing and discovering new ways of experiencing the world.
Nominations: IBBY Ireland has selected two nominees for the 2020 biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international distinction for authors and illustrators of children's books. Who are they? Announcement in the new year!
East meets West around Children’s Books: at the biennial IBBY International Congress in Athens in September, IBBY Ireland President Jane O’Hanlon presented a poster on the benefits of the Irish Writers’ in Schools scheme, and Belfast-based storyteller Pat Ryan explored the many ‘Jack’ stories in Canadian folklore.
Reading rights and refugees: The IBBY Ireland Annual Lecture.
IBBY Ireland’s first annual lecture in February welcomed Wally de Doncker in one of the last engagements of his four-year presidency of IBBY International. The acclaimed Belgian author spoke of literacy as a human right and his vision that every child should have access to good books. For the 2019 Annual Lecture we are delighted to welcome Deborah Soria, the inspiration behind the Silent Books project on Lampedusa. All are invited to her talk on 1st Feb, 7pm at St Patrick’s College, DCU Drumcondra. More details to follow on the IBBY Ireland Facebook page.
Photo: Syrian children explore the Silent Books.
Following the successful Irish tour of the Silent Books in 2017, IBBY Ireland has acquired a set of the wordless picture books. Selected from six continents and updated over the last year, the collection now includes the wonderful Owl Bat Bat Owl by Irish illustrator and author Marie Louise Fitzpatrick.
The fifty books tell stories that transcend language and strengthen intercultural understanding, a cornerstone of IBBY’s vision in its seventy-six member countries. Whimsical, profound and gorgeous to look at, the picture books are superb springboards for creativity among diverse groups: from immigrants to artists and from toddlers to youth groups; from children in mainstream education to adults with special learning needs.
Refugees have used the books in family workshops. In an empowering role reversal, Syrian primary pupils in County Clare told the stories depicted in the Silent Books to an audience of their parents in order to practise their oral skills and to teach English to the mothers and fathers who don’t have the benefit of school immersion in the new language. Primary school pupils have also used the books to explore different cultures, create their own stories and invent new worlds from the books.
For anyone interested in using the Silent Books, these superb creative and educational tools will be available from IBBY Ireland in the new year. More details to follow.
“A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterised by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.” Oxford English Dictionary
Loud and lively, playing with words and messing with metaphor, spontaneous, hilarious … children’s book festivals and school visits by authors, illustrators and other creative artists can be a thrilling break from the routine of lessons and lunchbreaks. But for the estimated 1 in 65 students in Ireland on the autistic spectrum, such events can trigger massive anxiety and fear. A workshop organised by Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland. Events for All, explored some of the challenges faced by children and adults with autism. Danny, a teenager on the spectrum, described his anxiety at the prospect of author visits to his school; he would sometimes opt out or stay at home because of the change in routine and unpredictability of the event. Adam Harris, the founder of AsIAm, compared autism to visiting a foreign country with nothing but a phrase book to negotiate the language and culture.
So how can organisers and facilitators of book festivals, school visits and other creative events help reduce stress and calm the environment for participants on the spectrum? There are many small changes that can make a huge difference. A few simple starters:
‘More and more clearly, I came to realise that I must not look backward, but to the future, and … begin with children.’
Jella Lepman’s faith in children to shape a more peaceful, tolerant world was borne out this week, more than fifty years after she wrote those words in A Bridge of Children’s Books. Two IBBY-inspired workshops in counties Mayo and Kerry saw children aged between seven and eleven founding new countries and exploring true heroism.
In Nation Creation, they mapped and named their ideal countries; laid down laws; wrote national anthems, and invented national sports and holidays. Laws included the banning of fossil fuels, compulsory kindness and the obligatory welcome of immigrants.
In the second workshop, My Handbook of Heroes, young participants imagined themselves as superheroes. As well as the usual powers – strength, speed and flying – one child boasted super-kindness and another super-listening. They founded a superschool where the subjects included Modesty and How to Handle Your Superpower for Good. And a list of their most heroic qualities featured honesty, forgiveness, humour and standing up for friends.
‘Something strange happens when you close your eyes. Suddenly you are in a totally different world, a place of endless breadth and depth … and there an ultimate and genuine freedom begins, transforming prisons into houses with open doors.’
We invite you to enjoy the presentation made at the 36th IBBY International Congress held in Athens, Greece.
The Hans Christian Andersen Award is the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of books for young people. Given every other year by IBBY, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards recognize lifelong achievement and are given to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important and lasting contribution to literature for young people.
The following were selected to serve as members of the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury under the guidance of Jury President Junko Yokota (Evanston, IL, USA):
Former IBBY Vice President Elda Nogueira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and IBBY Executive Director Liz Page (Basel, Switzerland) are ex officio Jury members.
For more information about the IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Award, the IBBY programme and current projects please visit the IBBY website at: http://www.ibby.org
Lots of noise around the Silent Books this week. In two workshops in County Clare, Syrian children brought their parents to explore the library’s set of wordless picture books from around the world. We started with a group story, using props to create characters and plots, including magic conkers that granted wishes and cats that jumped inside a book.
Each child then chose a silent book, explaining why the cover had caught their eye and guessing at the story inside. With their parents, whose English was more limited, they ‘read’ the book in a mixture of Arabic and English. Through questions and wonderings, everyone entered into the stories and beyond, imagining prequels and sequels, or using the illustrations to weave more strands into the story.
The children then took it in turns to sit on a ‘flying carpet’ in the middle of the group and tell their story to everyone. They drew pictures inspired by the books and the conversations around them.
A brilliant reminder of the unique delight and intimacy that a book unhindered by words can bring.