SCBWI Member Juried Exhibition

It's exhibition time! As the call goes out for entries to this year's selection, Anne-Marie Perks, Illustration Coordinator for the SCBWI British Isles Chapter, presents a short history of our print showcase exhibition.

Here we are again, the time of year where we’ve sent out a call for entries for our 2013 SCBWI Juried Members Showcase Exhibition. Three years on, the exhibition is growing to include more tour venues every year. 2013 venues were: Foyles Bookstore Cafe in London, Southampton Library and Norwich Millennium Library. The following article is a brief look into this growing exhibitions history.

Too Small for my Big Bed, Illustration by Layn Marlow

One of the things I really wanted to do not long after accepting the role of Regional Illustrator Coordinator in 2001 for SCBWI BI, was to organise a juried member exhibition. At the time, there were no other regions that had organised one. Though as you may have guessed by now - if you’ve been an illustrator member any length of time at all - we always look for opportunities to get our work seen. I wasn’t coming at this with no experience at all having worked on organising and hanging solo and group exhibitions in a museum in California for three years before moving to the UK. What held me back was thinking too big to just get us off the ground. Never mind that there were plenty of things to get going for illustrators in SCBWI BI to start with. This is where John Shelley stepped in. As ARA in Japan, John had helped set up exhibitions in Tokyo and had collaborated with one in France with Bridget Strevens-Marzo, International Illustrator Coordinator at the time. John had just moved back to the UK and was ready to help.

Our first juried member exhibition at the 2010 two day conference, John Shelley, far right.

By 2010, other regions had successfully organised juried member exhibitions, showing both fine art prints and original work. John suggested doing something we could handle to get us going; an A4 print juried show that will be highlighted at our annual conference for writers and illustrators. So, our first call for entries went out. The following images are a few of the twenty successful prints that made it into our first exhibition hung in the same room as the Open Portfolio Display at the conference.

From left to right, illustrations by Julia Woolf and Layn Marlow.

From left to right, illustrations by Mike Brownlow and Trish Phillips.

Though we had great plans that this exhibition would tour, it didn’t happen then. It would be our juried exhibition in 2011 that would find it’s first tour venue at Southampton Library thanks to Jan Carr. At this point, our prints were still being hung in inexpensive clip frames. This kept the exhibition easy to deliver, fitting into two shopping bags!

2012, 2013 brought more exhibition venue opportunities. We had already expanded our acceptance number to 21 prints in 2011. The juried exhibition was still being shown in the inexpensive clip frames, but that all changed with our acceptance to show at the Foyles Cafe last February. A grant from Stephen Mooser, president of SCBWI, allowed us to buy frames and the hanging materials required to show in the cafe.
Illustrators upon acceptance into the show submit one high quality print of their work. Brand new frames and mats bring the quality look of the show to a high standard, deserving of the great member illustrations exhibited.

This photo gives you an idea of how the work was hung in the popular Foyles Cafe. A lot of work went into hanging; thank you Bridget Strevens-Marzo, Heather Kilgour, Amber Hsu and Shana Nieberg-Sushitzky! Oh, and Bridget’s daughter too!

A small group of us showed up to celebrate the exhibition with coffee at Foyles and later with dinner. Clockwise, Bridget Strevens-Marzo, an interested visitor, Sally Kindberg and her daughter, and Mike Brownlow. (There were more of us there, sadly the lighting was not conducive to much picture taking.)

In June 2013, the exhibit showed for three weeks at Southampton Library, thanks again to Jan Carr. Then in August, exhibited at the Norwich Millennium Library, highlighted with a day of festivities with local authors and illustrators as well as any exhibited illustrators able to travel to the venue. John Shelley organised a great day of sketch-offs, reading books and sharing work from the illustrators, mini workshops, a bookselling counter and, well, fun! The exhibit hung for three weeks there before coming back to me in London.

John Shelley and Mike Brownlow in a sketch off. Don’t know what one is? As a story is being read, illustrators sketch whatever imagery comes to them around the story.

The show displayed in Norwich. Two display cases were provided by the library, enabling us to show books and other material from contributors as well as the prints.

So, here we are in 2013 and another call for entries has gone out. In the past, the showcase has been juried by professional illustrators, Anne-Marie Perks, Bridget Strevens-Marzo and John Shelley. This year, award winning author illustrator Gillian McClure has joined the panel. We are planning another exciting year touring in London and around the UK, working on a new exciting venues to add to our growing list. We are hoping to expand to 25 accepted entries. Our remit is to show the very best of SCBWI member illustrator work, and to tour this fabulous work to as many venues as feasible.

One thing you may not be aware of is how much of making the members showcase exhibition happen is down to the hard work of SCBWI volunteers, and not all are illustrators. This includes hanging and taking down the exhibitions and moving this growing showcase traveling by car, van, train, bus and taxi.

If you haven’t thought about sending in your submission, why not? You do not have to be published to enter, nor does your work have to have been published. You can submit self-promotion pieces, many illustrators do. The criteria is that the work must be targeted to children’s publishing in any genre or age range. This includes older fiction, book cover and black and white work. Go here for submission guidelines, or see last years accepted winners and read the guidelines here. I hope to see you in the exhibit for 2013 and 2014!

Anne-Marie Perks is the Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI British Isles.


  1. The exhibitions look really good, especially in frames in Foyles cafe, and a great way to promote scbwi illustrators.

  2. Thanks for this great detailed write-up Anne-Marie! The quality and range of this year's show was impressive . May it go from strength to strength!

  3. It's been a pleasure to bring the exhibition to Southampton, it's always admired and I've loved all the illustrations. i'm looking forward to this year's.


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