The winners of the 2020 V&A Illustration Awards have been revealed

This year’s winners include a Twitter-inspired take on freedom of speech and a boundary-breaking book cover, as well as work inspired by refugees.

The winners of this year’s V&A’s Illustration Awards have been announced, and the line-up includes a dramatic take on Twitter policy and two pieces themed around refugees.

The awards, which have been running since 1972, seek to celebrate illustration over a range of categories, from book covers to student work. This year’s shortlist included issues ranging from fairytales to refugee camps.

Ann Kiernan’s winning work

This year, the Moira Gemmill Illustrator of the Year (named after the museum’s late former director of design) has been awarded to Ann Kiernan, who also wins the Illustrated Journalism Award 2020. Kiernan’s work accompanied an article by Wael Eskandar called ‘How Twitter is gagging Arabic users and acting as morality police’. The striking piece takes the social media platform’s well-known bird logo and shows it breaking free of a cage, only to be shot down. A slash of red is intended to create a feeling of urgency.

Vyara Boyadjieva’s The Wave

There are three other awards categories. Eva Eland’s illustration for When Sadness Comes to Call won in the book cover category. This design aims to show a poignant but uplifting moment between a child and an unexpected guest. The illustration stretches beyond the borders of the cover.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins wins in the Book Illustration Award for his work on Hansel and Gretel: A Nightmare in Eight Scenes. The book – by Simon Armitage – began life as a puppet opera in which the childhood characters are reimagined as modern-day refugees. According to the V&A, the judges admired how the work “enriched” the words rather than merely “representing” them on the page.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ work for Hansel and Gretel

Student Illustrator of the Year went to Sally Dunne for Home in Kakuma Refugee Camp. These pastel drawings seek to convey the “vibrancy” of the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, while highlighting the everyday “difficult reality” of the refugees. The runner-up in the student category was Vyara Boyadjieva whose work – entitled The Wave – is a “jubilant” addition to a wordless picture book called Induli.

Sally Dunne’s illustration of Kakuma refugee camp

V&A director Tristram Hunt says that the awards “celebrate outstanding creativity by working artists, who use the fierce power of illustration to illuminate all the complexity of contemporary human experience”.

The V&A is set to reopen 6 August 2020 with a phased reopening for four days a week. The museum’s temporary exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will open on 27 August for an extended run into October.

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