EVENTS A Blink of Ink

Renowned SCBWI member Jill Calder shares her world through drawings, sketchbooks, roughs, books and published work from 30 plus years of her illustration career in an incredible exhibition at Callendar House, Falkirk. Our dear columnist Sarah Broadley was there for the opening and gives us an in-depth review about it.

Nestled in the central belt of Scotland lies Callendar House, a magnificent mansion dating, in parts, back to the 14th century. The surrounding land has seen battles won and great armies gathered that have shaped the town of Falkirk into what it is today. Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria, Oliver Cromwell and many more, have crossed the threshold of Callendar House over the years and SCBWI member and illustrator, Jill Calder, has now staked her claim in its visitor's diary.

From the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 that played out on the land, fast forward to 30th April 2022 and A Blink of Ink - Jill's retrospective exhibition, is taking over two floors of the majestic building from now until September.

photo © Kornelija Kusmickaite 
Spanning over three decades of her illustrative career, visitors are in for a treat as they walk along the path Jill's art made for her as she ventured fresh from Edinburgh & Glasgow Art colleges into broadsheet feature illustrations, calligraphy, children's book covers and beyond.

photo © Tita Berredo
photo © Kornelija Kusmickaite
Work started on her exhibition plan in autumn 2021 when we would regularly meet to discuss themes, timelines, cabinet installations, brochure folds and much more. Time slipped by and before we knew it, the stunning wall vinyls were up and we were given access to the space to put it all together. 

Boxes upon boxes of ephemera that held wonderful insights into Jill's working life began to fill the displays. A truly magical moment was had by all when the last perspex covers were placed over her treasured possessions ready for the world to see.

photo © Kornelija Kusmickaite
Launch day arrived and there was a buzz in the air. The hours getting everything 'just right', the Zoom calls to discuss brochure paper folds, the correct blue for the title wall, label wording, lighting, video loops, promotional materials, wall vinyls, cabinet displays, mirror plates... had all led to this very moment.

photo © Kornelija Kusmickaite
A bustling crowd of friends, family and colleagues from near and far arrived with an abundance of joy and celebration for Jill. They devoured each wall and cabinet, and watched in awe at the video of her journey (superbly put together by Stirling University BA Media student, Kornelija Kusmickaite).

photo © Tita Berredo

I may feel slightly bereft that I no longer need to head along the M9 every morning to spend the day with Jill but then I consider what we achieved in six months. 

As a writer, it has been a revelation working so closely with an illustrator. We both see words in a completely different way and I now fully understand the collaboration between text and image, more than I have ever done before. Pictures really do mean business.

photo © Kornelija Kusmickaite

Teamwork made this happen, and it wouldn't have been possible without Gillian, Sean and all the staff at Callendar House and Stephen McEwan from Kasule Design too.

Sarah Broadley and Jill Calder
photo © 
Kornelija Kusmickaite

And of course, to the wonder that is Jill Calder and her ability to make the world a better place just by being in the same room as her.

Be more, Jill. That's my new motto.

The exhibition will be open until September 11. Click here to find more about the it.

Sarah Broadley is a member of SCBWI Scotland (she co-chaired the network from 2015-2017) and writes for children of all ages. She is a member of the SOA as well as a trustee on the board of Cymera: Scotland’s Festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Writing. Sarah also interviews industry professionals for her quarterly SCBWI feature 'Writers' Minds' and is a book reviewer for My Book Corner

Twitter: @sarahpbroadley

Tita Berredo is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Find her work at Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Contact her at

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