Illustrations by Jessica Twohill, winner of this year’s Margaret Mahy Illustration Award.
In a strange moment of serendipity, Jessica Twohill learned she had won this year’s Margaret Mahy Illustration Award while baking a birthday cake for her daughter.
“I almost thought it was a little funny…kind of a serendipitous twist,” Twohill said. Things.
Nelson-based Twohill was named the winner of the award on Thursday for her work on the reimagining of Mahy’s The Witch in The Cherry Tree.
The classic Kiwi children’s book follows the story of a boy baking a cake with his mother, while a cake-loving witch tries to hatch a plan to steal the dessert.
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To enter the prestigious prize, artists receive a book by Mahy to perform and enter with a set of illustrations.
“[I’m] absolutely thrilled, I came second last year and came close to entering the year before so good to see it all paying off now.
Twohill studied Design Illustration between Massey University and the Design and Arts College of New Zealand and has been interested in craftsmanship since childhood.
For the past two years, she’s immersed herself in graphic design and now works in marketing, but still considers herself an “oversized kid.”
When she entered this year’s competition, she was “thrilled” to be able to recreate The Witch and The Cherry Tree.
“I grew up with her books like most New Zealanders of my generation… It’s truly breathtaking to team up with such an iconic author like her.
“His [Margaret Mahy’s] the books are very much about the imagination…she leaves a lot of things open for the illustrator to decide how to convey that.
“It’s about focusing on the child’s imagination. In this particular story it’s about this witch and you kind of have to decide if it’s real or if it’s just part of David [the child’s] imagination.
“I tried to bring in elements that combined the two a bit.”
The jury included Mahy’s daughter, Bridget Mahy, and children’s entertainer Suzy Cato.