A new exhibition, funded by Arts Council England and coinciding with London Book Fair's Baltic market focus, will be showcasing diverse, emerging artists from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the UK in April and May.
The Pop Up Creators exhibition, co-curated by Pop Up Projects and House of Illustration, is free to view and will run from 10th April to 20th May at the Royal Over-Seas League in Mayfair, London. According to organisers, it will feature the best work from a year-long collaboration between 150 talented young artists from 16 universities and colleges and 18 professional illustrators from the four countries, including Kate Greenaway winner William Grill and Beegu author Alexis Deacon.
The young artists - all under 26 and 80% of whom have English as a second language and/or are BAME - have worked under the guidance of their mentors to produce illustrated stories in what has been described as "a distinct 'leporello' (concertina) format". The stories have been published by four partners: Päike Ja Pilv in Estonia; kuš! in Latvia; Vilnius Academy of Arts Press in Lithuania; and Nobrow Press in the UK. The resulting collection will be launched alongside the exhibition to coincide with the London Book Fair 2018 Baltic countries market focus.
Axel Scheffler, who has written the foreword for the exhibition, said children's book illustration was "perhaps an underestimated means to further cultural exchange", speaking from experience having witnessed the international success of The Gruffalo.
"The body of work resulting from this project impresses in its variety of styles and approaches and I look forward to seeing the further development of these young talents," he said further. "This artistic exchange, bringing together British and Baltic illustrators and students, against the backdrop of The London Book Fair, is an exemplary attempt to strengthen the dialogue across Europe and can hopefully be repeated in the future."
Dylan Calder, founder-director of Pop Up Projects, said: "There’s nothing more important in these divisive times than supporting 150 young artists across four European countries, from a vast array of ethnic backgrounds and linguistic traditions, to tell and share their stories. We are proud and thrilled to be sharing these stories with the world during the London Book Fair – and, we hope, this project will launch the careers of some of the truly exceptional young artists we've discovered."
At the exhibition, Pop Up Projects is also launching a new digital platform, Pathways, designed to seek out, curate and showcase diverse emerging illustrators and comic artists direct to children’s publishers. It was developed in collaboration with illustration agency Inkygoodness and with seed funding from Arts Council England. If further funding is secured, those featured on the platform will access opportunities for children's publishing-sector training and progression, supported by three UK Bridge organisations: Artswork, Festival Bridge, Royal Opera House Bridge.
A seminar entitled "Pushing the limits of Graphic Stories: Spotlight on the Pop Up Creators Project", in which artists and publishers discuss their experience of Pop Up Projects, will take place at LBF on 10th April.