Cara Rooney has won the Macmillan Prize for Illustration, which has returned this year after last year's prize was cancelled owing to the pandemic.
This year's competition had more than 266 submissions from 41 different universities and colleges. As a result of the pandemic and the cancellation of the prize in 2020, submissions were eligible from students in the UK, as well as those who graduated in 2020 and missed the prize last year.
The prize was established in 1985, in order to stimulate new work from young illustrators in art schools, and to help them take the first steps in their professional lives as illustrators of children’s books. It is open to all illustrators studying in art schools and colleges, in either full-time or part-time education.
Winner of the £1,000 first prize was Rooney with her entry Ants. She is based in Dundee, where she graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 2020 with a degree in illustration.
Chris Inns, art and design director at Macmillan Children’s Books and chair of the judges, said: “Cara’s wonderful illustration immediately caught the judges’ attention. The use of a bright, but not obvious, palette of eye-catching colours and bold compositions, evocative of Matisse, made this book stand out in a very strong field. Cara’s stylish work produced an instant, positive and unanimous reaction, spreading smiles across the judging panel’s faces.”
Rooney added: “I am so delighted and grateful to have won the Macmillan Prize for Illustration this year and am very thankful for the judges’ feedback on my book. I have always had a fascination for the natural world and having loved interactive books and activity books since I was little, I wanted to create work that would combine children’s curiosity with playful formats, encouraging interaction with the reader. This feels so surreal after admiring and being inspired by amazing previous winners of the competition and reading their beautiful published children’s books to my little brother and sister too.”
Second prize went to Laura Winstone for The Catmolean Mewseum and third prize to Yichun Ma for My Quiet Dad. Both are students at the Cambridge School for Art at Anglia Ruskin.