Noirwich Flash Fiction Competition 2018 – Shortlisted!

I am delighted that my entry to the Noirwich Flash Fiction Competition 2018 has reached the shortlist of 10!

The Noirwich Perfect Crime Writing Festival is run in conjunction with the National Centre for Writing and the University of Easy Anglia. The competition was for short stories less than 500 words based in or around my home town of Norwich and/or Norfolk.

As a newbie to the writing scene, I am so excited that Black Shuck’s Awful Alphabet, A Deliciously Dark Bedtime Story has reached the shortlist.


#3000 Chairs Fundraiser for Refugees Pop-up chair

Sandy Horsley pop-up chair original print 2      Sandy Horsley pop-up chair original print 3

My most recent pop-up is this little chair made for the #3000 chairs fundraiser to help refugees.

The chair is an original drypoint etching print and the feathers are tiny block prints, hand printed, hand cut and assembled into a pop-up of my own design.

It was auctioned at the book launch of The Day the War Came, a book by Nicola Davies and Illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, highlighting the plight of refugees.

Suffolk Libraries Culture Lab – Artist in Residence July 2018

Sandy Horsley 1 week old baby sketch Suffolk Libraries

In July I was so thrilled to be selected as one of 10 artists in residence for Suffolk Libraries at their Culture Lab residency.

This gorgeous little lady (top of this post) wasted no time in visiting her local library – at just one week old she was taking it all in, or rather, snoozing through it, which was perfect for me as she stayed pretty still while I sketched her. But I had to be quick, as I knew it wouldn’t last. This sketch was done in about 10 minutes. It was a privilege to draw her.

The residency was an opportunity for selected artists to produce new work or take time to develop current projects further. This opportunity has come about due to Suffolk Libraries being given NPO status by the Arts Council.

My proposal was to produce drawings I could use to develop diverse picture book characters, using my sketches of library users and overheard conversations to produce imaginary characters that draw upon the diverse communities found in Suffolk Libraries.

My interest in diversity in children’s books was raised further after I illustrated The Wind in the Willows last year as part of my MA course. I hadn’t read it since childhood, and on re-reading it, I was shocked to discover that all the main characters are male. The only female characters are bit parts – the washer woman and the gaoler’s daughter.

My first thought was that The Wind in the Willows is a book of its time, and that things are different now. How wrong I was.

I did some research about diversity in children’s books. Recently, The Observer newspaper commissioned an analysis of the 100 most popular (best-selling) children’s picture books of 2017. Disappointingly, the research shows that male characters are twice as likely to take the lead roles and are 50% more likely to have speaking parts than females. Male villains are eight times more likely to appear than female villains and in a fifth of the books, female characters are missing completely.

Following on from this the CLPE survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature 2017, shows that only 4% of the children’s books published in 2017 featured BAME characters and only 1% of the children’s books published in the UK in 2017 had a BAME main character.

In 2016, book publisher Penguin Random House launched its Write Now scheme which aims to, “find, mentor and publish new writers from under-represented communities”, stating the importance “for young children to see themselves, their families, cultures and communities reflected in the books they read”.

The WriteNow scheme also strives to address the issue that the publishing industry, including those in roles that make decisions about which stories get published, is predominantly white, socially and economically advantaged, and male.

My hope for the Suffolk Libraries residency was to come away inspired by all the real-life characters of the library community, the stories about their lives and why the library is important to them. This will help me to develop picture books that celebrate diversity, are inclusive and feature those missing protagonists whose stories are yet to be told.

As part of my residency I went on a ‘Library Safari’ day visit to Felixstowe. I’ve never been to Felixstowe before, I have to say that it is AMAZING!
An Edwardian seaside town, it has an incredibly diverse landscape and population, which was just perfect for my residency project.

Sandy Horsley Felixstowe photos beach      Sandy Horsley Felixstowe photos arcades

Sandy Horsley Felixstowe photos beach huts      Sandy Horsley Felixstowe photos building

Sandy Horsley Felixstowe photos gantry cranes      Sandy Horsley Felixstowe photos beach gardens

It has a beautiful beach and seafront gardens and those incredible gantry cranes lined up at the port just dominate the skyline (in a good way!), like monsters visiting from Mars.

I can’t wait to develop my initial sketches further and I look forward to working on diverse and inclusive children’s books – let’s see if we can do something about those statistics.


The Movable Book Society Emerging Paper Engineer Award 2018


I am over the moon to have received an Honourable Mention in the Movable Book Society’s Emerging Paper Engineer Prize 2018 for my pop-up book, PAUSE.

Congratulations to the winner, Vanessa Yusuf, and to Amy Nayve who also received an Honourable Mention.

You can see a video of my book here

A compilation of all the entries to the Movable Book Society’s Emerging Paper Engineer Prize can be viewed here


Folio Society Illustration Awards 2018

Sandy Horsley Sherlock Homes book cover 1

I recently entered the House of Illustration / Folio Society 2018 Illustration Awards.

The brief was to illustrate 3 different stories from The Selected Advetures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.
I didn’t get selected, but it was a great exercise to practice some book cover designs.
As I was also preparing for my MA show I was short of time and only spent about 2 weeks on the 4 images required for the competition.
Having now seen the amazing quality of the illustrations on the longlist selection, I realise that I should have spent much longer than 2 weeks on my entry! There’s always next year…

The covers here have been reworked for my portfolio.

The first cover is an image of Dr Watson, to illustrate the story The Man With the Twisted Lip. The face is drawn from life using charcoal and putty rubber. I then scanned and layered this digitally with a monoprint texture, before adding the text.

The second cover is an image of Sherlock Holmes and Reginald Musgrave from the story The Musgrave Ritual. Holmes is working out how to measure the length of the shadow from a tree (that no longer exists). This illustration is charcoal drawing, monoprint textures (digitally merged with one of my photographs of trees) and digital drawing.

Sandy Horsley Sherlock Book Cover 2

The third cover is the actual cover that I entered into the competition. The brief asked for a more graphic response for the cover binding, using just two colours plus a third colour from the binding fabric. This is rubber stamp text and digital drawing. I was trying to challenge the reader to use their powers of deduction like Sherlock!

#sandyhorsley #foliosociety #houseofillustration #illustrationawards #sherlockholmes #bookcovers #editorialillustration #arthurconandoyle

MA Show website now live!

The Cambridge MA show website is now live. Check out the work of my very talented fellow students on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.
You can see a selection of my illustrations on my page.

The show is open every day from Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th February 2018. All the details on the website. Come and say hi!

#cbigradshow2018 #csa #cambridgeschoolofart #angliaruskin #aru #machildrensbookillustration

MA exhibition show in London, 13th – 17th Feb 2018

It feels exciting but strange to be in the last stages of my MA. It’s been such an amazing exprience and a big part of my life for the last two and a half years.

My final course work has been handed in for assessment and now I’m preparing for my MA exhibition, which will take place at Candid Arts Trust Gallery, 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ (near Angel tube station).

It will be open 10am to 6pm every day from Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th February.

I’m hoping to be there every day, please do come along if you’d like to see more of my work and that of the many talented people on my course.
It would be great to see you there – I don’t bite, honest…

#cbigradshow2018 #csa #cambridgeschoolofart #angliaruskin #aru #machildrensbookillustration

SCBWI UV finalists announced: I’m one of the winners!

Mr Badger is mortified with all the attention, but I am delighted to announce that my illustration Badger’s Study is one of the winning entries selected for the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices anthology 2018.

The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators runs a competition to find the best unpublished and unagented writers and illustrators from their members.

The anthology is sent to industry contacts and all the winners get invited to a party where we meet publishers and agents and present our work.

You can buy a printed version of the anthology for £5.99 (excl VAT) or download a pdf for free here.

So put those slippers away Mr Badger and get your glad rags on – we’re off to a party.

PAUSE pop-up book

My pop-up book P A U S E was put into (sort of) mass production as I had to prepare an additional three copies to take to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March 2017.

Re-creating the main chaos pop-up and the pylon pop-up three more times was certainly a challenge! But I got there in the end, phew 🙂

The brief was to propose, develop and execute a completed visual sequence for a children’s picture book as part of my MA studies.
I wanted to show through illustration, printmaking and pop-ups how our obsession with digital gadgets can mean we miss out on the beauty that’s all around us.

Switch off that phone and go out for a walk!