I am from London, England, and have wanted to write and illustrate picture books since before I could write. As a child I liked reading, making things, drawing, writing, or climbing trees, and I haven’t changed much. I did my first degree English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick, and as a teenager and young adult I mainly wrote poems. But I never stopped reading picture books or doodling, and went on to study children’s book illustration at Cambridge School of Art, completing my MA in 2013.
About my work
I started working with Walker Books on my first picture book, The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head, just after finishing my MA. My second picture book, ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO! will also be published by Walker and\ Candlewick. I have also written and illustrated comics for LOAf magazine, and my illustrations have appeared on greetings cards,T-shirts, advent calendars, and a coffee tricycle. I have taught illustration to adults and teenagers and led lots of children's workshops. I have never had a parrot on my head, but once during a school visit I met two children who had.
The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head began as two unrelated sketchbook doodles: Isabel first appeared (among other children with birds on their heads) in 2010, and her “system” of cardboard boxes containing bears, monsters and “THE DARK” was an even older doodle. The book was first developed as a college project in 2011, when Isabel reappeared in my sketchbook with the sentence: “The girl with the parrot on her head did not need any friends to play with” which was the seed of the plot. Words and pictures developed together in an associative, sometimes surreal way, and at the same time, before the story made much sense, I started experimenting with how to make the final artwork. All my illustrations begin as tiny pen and ink drawings; for picture books I enlarge the tiny drawings and make silkscreen prints from them – a technique I began to learn through making The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head.
Three things you might not know about me:
1. I built a sailing boat called Loris with my dad. We made it mainly from plywood, stuck together with epoxy resin and cable ties.
2. When I was little, some of my favorite picture books were Avocado Baby by John Burningham, Angelo by Quentin Blake, Acorns and Stew by Ruth Orbach, and Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte ZolotowMaurice Sendak. My favorite audiobook was Russell Hoban’s A Bargain for Frances.
3. A few Christmases ago I made dolls of twenty-one members of my family out of pipe cleaners.