EVENTS We’re going on a scrawl crawl — virtually

From Washington DC to London, Fran Price talks to Alina Surnaite about virtual scrawl-crawls and 
next dates for your diary.

Got lockdown cabin fever and in need of some inspiration? Let the four walls melt away and join fellow SCBWI-BI members on an odyssey around the world’s greatest cultural venues, without even leaving your armchair. 

SCBWI-BI is running free virtual scrawl crawls for illustrators and writers where visitors can explore museums, art galleries and other venues worldwide.

Sketch, write a story, make a poem or a picture, or just marvel at the fascinating things on view. Next up is a visit to the British Museum (pictured above) this Saturday 26th September and then on October 24th we’re off to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art (see details below).

Organiser Alina Surnaite explains how, way before lockdown, she got involved in real-life scrawl crawls. ‘I volunteered to run seasonal scrawl crawls in Cambridge in 2017 with the encouragement of our wonderful Central East Network Organiser Debbie Edwards,’ says Alina. ‘It was her idea to make the scrawl crawls virtual and open to all British Isles members since we cannot meet in person due to Covid-19 restrictions.’

Drawing by Rembrandt. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

The virtual events have been running on a monthly basis — this Saturday’s event will be the sixth. All you have to do is join the private group on Facebook to take part.

Among the places members have visited so far are the John Paul Getty Museum, the Rijksmuseum and Paris Opera.

‘It helps members stay creative and connected in these troublesome times,’ says Alina. ‘We can 'travel' around the world by visiting famous museums and other venues with the help of Google Street View and amazing online collections at Google Arts and Culture,’ explains Alina.

Any personal favourites? ‘It has to be the fantastic Talliston House and Gardens in spring last year, before lockdown’ she says. ‘It was very inspiring and felt like we travelled in time through different rooms. I also loved exploring the Paris Opera during the Third Virtual Scrawl Crawl with its magnificent stage and a mysterious underground lake.’

No need to queue to see the Rosetta Stone, reportedly The British Museum's most visited object.
Picture credit: @britishmuseum.

  • The Sixth Virtual Scrawl Crawl will take place on Saturday 26th September, 2.00-3.30pm. The group will be exploring the British Museum collection and virtual tour. To get an idea of what’s in store follow the link here.
  • The Seventh Virtual Scrawl Crawl will take place on Saturday 24th October, 2.00-3.30pm. The group will be exploring the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art collection and virtual tour. For an idea, follow the link here.
  • The monthly events are open to both writers and illustrators. The participants are free to sketch, paint, take notes, write a short scene, character description, plan a story idea or create anything they like inspired by the art or architecture. They are welcome to share their work at the end for some friendly feedback.
  • To join the Virtual Scrawl Crawls group on Facebook, go here.

*Header image of The British Museum by @_amphoto;


Alina Surnaite is a picture book writer and illustrator based in Cambridge, where she graduated from the MA Children's Book Illustration course at Anglia Ruskin University. She has been a SCBWI member for over five years and organises events for writers and illustrators. Twitter: @AlinaSurnaite


Fran Price is Events Editor for Words & Pictures, the online magazine for SCBWI-BI. Contact her at

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