Review: The Association of Illustrators: World Illustration Awards 2015 | Somerset House

Somerset House, Lond­on

5th October – 1st November 2015

Hosted in partnership with Directory of Illustration

The World Illustration Awards have been hosted annually at Somerset House since 2012, and is concluded with a touring exhibition featuring some of the shortlisted works of contemporary illustration entries from both emerging and established artists.

The exhibition is displayed in the South Wing’s Terrace Rooms; a bright and airy space comprised of three rooms, each housing a well balanced selection of works of varying styles, media and colour maintaining interest and variety throughout.

The awards received over 2000 entries and cover five key categories;

  • Advertising
  • Books
  • Children’s Books
  • Design
  • Editorial
  • Public Realm
  • Self Initiated
  • Research & Knowledge Communication

The show, curated by the Awards Manager, Sabine Reimer promotes how ‘illustration [is] an essential contributor to global visual culture’ (

A highlight was Belgium born Pieter Van Eenoge’s When We Pollute the Ocean, We Pollute Ourselves; a bold duo of acrylic paintings concisely communicating exactly what the title suggests. Eenoge’s illustrations, created for a Surfrider Foundation’s campaign, won the professional award for Advertising and it’s clear to see why.

Figure 1: Pieter Van Eenoge ‘When We Pollute the Ocean, We Pollute Ourselves’. Acrylic on paper. (

Figure 2: Pieter Van Eenoge ‘When We Pollute the Ocean, We Pollute Ourselves’. Acrylic on paper. (

Each image centres the tilted back head of a Tim Burton-esque character bearing exaggerated open mouths. Inside their mouths is a fish, and inside the fish’s mouths is an example of trash found in our oceans. The sad need for advertisements like this is defined by Eenoge in his interview with The AOI

If everybody just had the decency to throw their garbage in the trashcan, there was no need to make these ads.’ (Eenoge, P.V. in

The beauty of illustration is that it can speak a thousand words, yet a powerful illustration speaks only few, and vociferously.

The digital work Autism by Dutch illustrator Aad Goudappel is a poignantly pensive piece depicting an anonymous silhouette, in which the bow of an ornate key represents the brain, and stem imitates the spinal chord. The work has been used as the central image for the World Illustration Awards, and like Eenoge’s has strong connotations; the work was created for a BetterMed article discussing how examining the autistic brain could unlock the workings of the human brain in general. Three colours have been used in this illustration; a black silhouette on a pink background with a single blue mark illuminating the eye. The masculine figure over the feminine hue subtly balances the gender representations, the pink also enriching the human quality of illustration. This piece won the professional award for Research and Knowledge Communication.

Handcrafted 3D illustration is also displayed in the work of British artist Sam Pierpoint and her El Jimador Skull. Intricate layers of paper offer an alternative, contemporary perspective on El Jimador’s Dia de los Muertos celebrations. Displayed in a Perspex vitrine Pierpoints skull is a feast for the eyes, and one may wish  that it wasn’t wall mounted so that the viewer can really indulge in a 360° paper cut banquet.
Exceptional works of new talent are represented at Somerset House, including the digital children’s book illustrations of Spain based freelance illustrator Verónica Grech, and her book Little Blue. These delicate illustrations express the intimate relationship between mother and child, and allow for the gentle textures to bestow delight upon the eyes.

Figure 3: Aad Goudappel, ‘Autism’. Digital. ( 3: Aad Goudappel, ‘Autism’. Digital. (

The curatorial voice in minimal in this exhibition, allowing for the shortlisted competition entries to sing for themselves. Yet, it’s clear some important curatorial considerations have taken place to ensure this show is a pleasure to explore. There are some challenging spots in the space such as grand fireplaces. These have been worked with effectively; carefully selected pieces accentuate these obstructions and maximise the space, if a little too high to be viewed comfortably. The panoramic illustrated Japanese Folktales by João Fazenda fill the space nicely, and the graphic interpretations of 2015 film releases by Malika Favre designed to celebrate the

Figure 4: Sam Pierpoint, ‘El Jimador Skull’. Resin skull, paper, glue, wooden sticks and string. (

BAFTA Film Awards brochure complement the period features of the fireplace with their nod to film noir poster design.

It’s great so see the physical applications of some of the works presented in display tables and browsable shelves, including Benji Davies’ children’s book Grandad’s Island  and Owen Davey’s illustrations for the TEFL book  Bird Search, however it would have been interesting to be able to handle more printed ephemera, and the lack of a gift shop is disappointing as this exhibition would be a lucrative opportunity to sell prints, particularly for some of the New Talent artists.

In summary this is a fantastic show presenting some of the worlds finest artists and emerging illustrative trends.

Bibliography ‘Surfrider Foundation – Pieter Van Eenoge’. 2015. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.

Sam Pierpoint. ‘El Jimador Skull’. 2015. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.


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