Garden art: Prize for Illustration 2015

by Rhiannon James

Detail from The Urban Jungle by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

The annual Prize for Illustration has taken London Places and Spaces as its theme for 2015 and many of the artists have found inspiration in the capital’s green and pleasant corners. The one hundred shortlisted illustrations currently on show at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, which have been selected from more than a thousand entries, include depictions of London’s most famous parks and its secret gardens, some almost photographic and some fantastic, using everything from coloured pencils to Photoshop. We spoke to some of these illustrators to find out more.

Roof Garden by Anna Steinberg

1297---Roof-Garden---Anna-Steinberg“I thought of this garden on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank because it’s a place I’d enjoyed visiting.

Wild spaces within a city seem particularly special. I liked the contrast of a particularly wild garden within sight of the London skyline.

The place feels playful, and slightly anarchic and hidden. I was interested in the people who used and appreciated the garden. In earlier versions I’d intended to include stories about the people I’d spoken to when I’d been sketching there. Two women told me they’d been friends for 40 years and had a friend, ‘a little elfin creature who wore hot pants’, who’d worked in fundraising for the Royal Philharmonic and had a seat in the RFH auditorium dedicated to her when she died. I also spoke to volunteer gardeners, some ex homeless who told me how working at the garden has helped their self esteem. The stories felt very positive and tightly woven in with the area. I wanted to capture how the skyline seems secondary to humanity and nature from the garden.”





The Urban Jungle by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

1778---The-Urban-Jungle--Jessica-Courtney-Tickle“Out of all the green places I love in London Kew Gardens has some of the most spectacular elements. I wanted to capture the magic of a walkway that transforms London into an exotic jungle-like utopia! It is truly full to the brim with life in all shapes, sizes and colours and as you walk through it, you forget you are actually in the city, surrounded by man-made buildings and machinery. I think there is also something wondrous about being able to walk above and beside the trees, you get to see the world from a completely different angle. It makes you feel small but incredibly at peace because it puts everything into perspective which can be so rewarding when you live in a busy city.

I tried to capture how much we as humans need nature and greenery, in this poster, even if we are city dwellers. Most of the people in the poster are drawn to the colourful leaves even if they are just passing by. I wanted to reflect how much we need open spaces and plant life not just physically but mentally too. So many studies have proved the effect nature has on our state of mind, it can induce relaxation, peace and happiness, as well as freedom and creativity. We all need it and I wanted to show that with the number of different characters who are looking out from the walkway.”




The Viaduct Bridge, Hampstead Heath by William Grill



“I chose Hampstead Heath as my location because I think it’s one of the most charming places in the city, it’s like a small patch of countryside that’s woven into the fabric of London. The Viaduct Bridge is the remains of an old Victorian brickfield – now overgrown it has transformed into an idyllic and iconic place unique to London.

I aimed to capture a sense of harmony between two opposing forces, the architecture of man and nature. The static relic of the past is complemented by the changing, ever enveloping trees. The complementary colours of the changing leaves in autumn combined with the rich red brick come together to create a warm and cheerful palette.

Being at The Viaduct Bridge has a timeless feel which I love. It’s also a little known secret among dog walkers that if you sit very still you might just see the infamous heron make his morning catch!”








St. James Park by Johanna Tarkela

Tarkela“Since I first visited London, St James’s Park has been one of my favourite places in the city and I normally visit it every time I’m in the area. I had never seen a park like St James’s Park in the middle of a big city before. I just find it an aesthetically pleasing place with the pond in the middle and all the lush trees, and I enjoy watching the birds and animals in the park.

I was aiming to capture the contrast between nature and the city which you can see peeking behind the trees which I think is part of the charm of the park. I really love how the park is in such a central location, but you can’t really tell it while you are there apart from those big, iconic buildings in the background.”











The Prize for Illustration is organised by London Transport Museum in partnership with the Association of Illustrators (AOI). The annual competition is open to illustrators and students of illustration throughout the world. The winning design will be reproduced as a poster for display on London Underground.

The Prize for Illustration: London Places and Spaces is at London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB until 6th September 2015. Tickets cost £16.00 (£13.50 concessions) and allow unlimited daytime entry to the Museum galleries and temporary exhibitions for a whole year.

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