Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Imagine and Draw: Storystock 2014

The Big Draw is the world’s biggest drawing festival running from October 1st to November 2nd across the UK and twenty other countries. It aims to encourage everyone and anyone to pick up a pencil and draw, embracing their creativity and unleashing their inner artist.

As part of the Big Draw, three of our fantastic Templar authors and illustrators appeared at Storystock at Bush Theatre in London.

Storystock is a travelling story circus – a storytelling festival for children aged 3 to 11 years old – and despite being in just its second year, the festival was ridiculously busy with children and parents excitedly bustling around!

I was one of that crowd –rushing around to find Yuval Zommer (Big Blue Thing on the Hill), Faye Hanson (The Wonder) and Victoria Turnbull (The Sea Tiger), all of whom were getting ready for their morning events.
Yuval and his helper Eliot after a fantastic event!

Yuval, experienced and unphased by the huge crowds outside, was calm and confident in the studio. With his helper Eliot close by, Yuval held a charming and engaging workshop, with children gathered on the floor in front of him, eagerly listening to his story before trying their hand at their own drawings.

Elsewhere, Faye and Victoria were nervously excited about opening the doors of the main theatre room to the 50 or so children impatiently waiting outside for the double author event. Despite a few technical difficulties, the duo kept their spirits up, armed with pens to encourage their audience to draw. The girls ran a beautiful storytelling and illustration workshop – showing the children step-by-step how to draw the characters from their magical picture books.

Vic and Faye signing books after unleashing the children's imaginations.

At one point, Faye asked the children to create their own flying machines so they could soar off into their imaginations, or just get home after the event. My favourites were definitely the flying otter and the flying lemon… 

I’m pleased to say, all the Templar author events were a huge success and Yuval, Faye and Victoria did us all proud. (Particularly Vic – for whom this was a first and very nerve-wracking event!)

The next challenge of the day was for me to prepare for my own event.  Yes - my own event.

The MAPS activity book was my baby for the day – a title to get children excited about and encourage them to become explorers of the world!

Despite our copies of the book doing a disappearing act at the festival, the wonderful helpers ran around photocopying countless sheets so the children could create their own flags and their own countries using sheets from the book by Daniel and Aleksandra Mizielinksa.

After entering the room and sitting at tables named after Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas (with latecomers forming the ‘rest of the world’ table) the children set about unleashing their creative streaks – doodling all over the sheets in front of them and testing themselves on the flags of the world.
Me playing children's helper...
encouraging the kids to reveal their fascinating islands...

At the end of the session, two or three children from each table were brave enough to come to the front of the studio and share the countries they had created with the rest of the room.

We had an island made of sweets where even the rain was edible because it was made of sherbet, an island home to one solitary but very happy flying lion, an island made purely of mud and, perhaps strangest of all, an island with a nuclear reactor whose only inhabitants were a deformed tiger and a deformed piranha…

Which just goes to show, that when children are allowed to unleash their creative side, their imaginations can really run riot.

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