Behind the Scenes: Our New Family Illustrator in Residence Programme

A Q&A with our Schools and Families Manager Grace Attlee on our new series of workshops for 5-12 year olds and their parents and carers.


  • Learning

How long have you been managing the family programme at House of Illustration?

I’ve managed the family programme at House of Illustration for almost three years now, and in that time it’s grown quite radically.

What’s new this year?

Our monthly workshops for 2-5 year olds are now structured around the theme of environmental activism,  and we’ve also launched a brand-new Family Illustrator in Residence programme, working with four illustrator-educators per year.

I wanted to switch it up a bit for 2020 to work more intensely in partnership with a small number of illustrators who are dedicated to changing the culture of illustration in some way.

The Family Illustrator in Residence programme invites these illustrators to run workshops relevant to their practice for 5-12 year olds and produce other creative content relating to their time at House of Illustration.

What’s special about the new programme?

Having an illustrator able to work with groups over three months of the year allows more room for their artistic approach to evolve and consequentially have a deeper impact on families taking part.

How did you pick the first Resident?

I was lucky enough to bump into the artist Ben Connors and his family at We Out Here festival last summer and we got chatting about his huge participatory mural for children and his creative work for record labels and charities. Because of his experience across genres of illustration and his in-depth work with communities, I knew he’d be a great fit for the programme and was happy when he agreed to be the first Family Illustrator in Residence. 

How did you and Ben decide on a theme for the workshops?

Ben suggested designing  and co-delivering the workshops with his daughter Nila – exactly the kind of fresh thinking I wanted to inject in to the programme! It was Nila who came up with the brilliant theme of ‘Magical You’ – a festival-like celebration of identity and all the reasons it’s amazing to be who you are. I was really pleased with this concept as it was perhaps something no adult would have dreamt up alone!

Nila’s participation was also an important reminder about unique viewpoints and the variety of approaches that should be embraced when creating cultural offerings. As a programmer, the best advice I’ve received has been from children, gallery visitors and parents.

How can I get involved?

Our second set of workshops with new Residents One of My Kind are now on sale. Ben and Nila’s workshops sold out super quickly, so book early to avoid disappointment.

Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to be the among the first to hear when the third and fourth Residents are announced in June and September and their workshops go on sale.