18th May 2005




Student illustrator Keir Birch has been highly commended by the publisher Macmillan for his fishy story book about a lonely manatee.


Keir (20), a second-year Illustration student at the Hull School of Art & Design, was highly commended by the judges in the Macmillan Children’s Picture Book competition.


Illustrations for his book, ‘A Manatee Called Hugh’, are currently on display in a special exhibition at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design.


In Keir’s story for five to seven-year-olds a manatee called Hugh gets separated from his herd and lives alone in an old shipwreck.


He tries making new friends but the fish are all too small or too fast for him to play with so he decides to search for his herd.


At the end of the story he finds a new herd of manatee and settles down with them.


“I spent a lot of time on it and re-did all the final pieces,” says Keir, who comes from Castleford in West Yorkshire. “It was a new painting style for me and it was very difficult to get the underwater images to look good, but I pulled it off in the end.


“I only found out about my commendation a couple of days before the opening of the exhibition and I was over the moon, very surprised. You never expect it but I entered the competition in the vague hope that I might do well.”


Illustration lecturer John Longworth praised the Hull students for the quality of their entries.


“It’s a very difficult thing for second-year students to achieve this level of work as in the competition they come up against third-years from prestigious institutions like the Royal College of Art.”


Students who enter the competition have to design an entire book, write the original story, design the layout, construct the book and illustrate the pages by hand.


For more information contact:

Jez Ashberry, Press and Media Relations Manager

01522 886042                         jashberry@lincoln.ac.uk

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