Kitty Crowther

 Report from interviews for the Making Great Illustration book. For more info see About

My young daughter asked me to bring her back a bag of sprouts from Brussels, instead I brought her a book from the extraordinary illustrator Kitty Crowther. What’s amazing about Kitty is that most of us here in the UK have never heard of her, nor seen her work. That’s amazing because she is a hugely talented writer and illustrator celebrated the world over, but not published in the UK.

I travel on Eurostar and stay in the centre in a swish hotel. I’ve not been to Brussells for years and have an explore in the last of the evening sun. It’s not very sophisticated but I can’t resist having a huge ice cream from an up market chocolate shop. There’s not a sprout in sight.

I know that reaching the village where Kitty lives could be a faff; I have to get a metro, and two trains. This is one of the last interviews and I don’t want any thing to go wrong so I am up at the crack of dawn and feel a bit frazzled.

 

When I arrive in the little village where she lives it is still early and Kitty is eating grapefruit in her warm kitchen. She too is warm and makes me feel very at home. We both drink tea in big cups and Kitty talks about her recent prize (the Astrid Lindgren Memorial award 2010) I know it’s not polite to ask about money, but I can’t help myself from wondering about what it’s like to be given almost half a million pounds. She is very humble about it and says that it will give her some freedom and the chance to buy a house of her own. She tells me a story about one of her sons inventing other prizes that she thinks she should be awarded and although I can’t remember the details the jist of it is that she realises it’s not an excuse to get a big ego.

What is most memorable is the way that Kitty giggles as she speaks, whilst rolling up her own cigarettes. We sit in her big loft studio with the roof windows open and the sound of the birds outside is quite astounding.

It may sound condescending or corny to say that Kitty is charming but really she is. I find her quite magical. When she talks about her visits to Norway during her childhood and her interest in folklore it is easy to imagine her in some mystical landscape, it seems to be where she belongs with her cast of creatures. I’m not surprised when she muses about using some of her prize money for that same purpose. No sprouts there either but more chance of encountering the witches and other ethereal beings in which she believes.

Jo Davies

Photography by Paul Duerinckx

Kitty Crowther publisher site

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