Arts University Bournemouth graduate Jake Alexander has won this year's Macmillan Prize for Illustration for his picture book examining systemic racism.
The prize was established 30 years to recognise young illustrators from UK art schools. This year’s contest saw 260 submissions from 46 different universities and colleges.
Alexander, who has just completed his degree in illustration at Arts University, Bournemouth, said he was “shocked and humbled” by the win for his book Can I Read My Books, Please?
He said: “In Can I Read My Books, Please? I wanted to examine the horrifying systematic racism experienced by people of colour throughout our society, including the massive impact of funding cuts and library closures on those who rely on their books as a means of escape, and learning. Looking at issues like police brutality through the eyes of a child forced me to approach these topics with subtlety and tact."
Chris Inns, chair of judges and art and design director at Macmillan Children’s Books, said: “Chosen by the judges on their work alone, it is encouraging to have different voices coming through. This is exemplified by Jake’s outstanding, thought-provoking entry.”
“After over thirty years of the Macmillan Prize for Illustration it’s heartening to see that the high standard of creativity and invention are still very much in evidence,” Inns added. “Yet again the submissions this year have been excellent, both in their creativity and also in the messages they convey. We at Macmillan would like to extend our thanks to the tutors for continuing to support the prize and to our splendid judges for being so generous with their time and expertise.”
The winner was announced at a prize artwork exhibition in London’s Candid Arts Gallery last night (11th June). Second prize was awarded to Arthur Vergani from the Cambridge School of Art and Anglia Ruskin University for his work The King's Share. Third prize was taken by Amy Steele from the University of Edinburgh for her book The Lunchbook.
The winning and highly-commended artwork is on display to the public at the Candid Arts Centre until 13th June.
Previous winners of the prize include Emily Gravett, Lucy Cousins, Ross Collins and Morag Hood.