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Kingston University MA Illustration 2010 Exhibition Review

The Kingston MA in Illustration has bred some wonderful illustrators, including our very own Gemma Milly, Kerry Hyndman and Laura Callaghan. Plus many others...

Written by Amelia Gregory

Love Amandine Gemma Milly
Illustration by Gemma Milly.

For some reason Kingston buried it’s student graduation shows in the depths of the Tent London exhibition during Design Week in London this September. Due to severe overcrowding at the opening party for Tent I was thus unable to attend the graduation preview, so I have yet to meet graduating illustrator and Amelia’s Magazine favourite Gemma Milly.

I returned the next day to find a real mix of illustration on display, including some from other part time contributors to this blog, including the very good Laura Callaghan (we wish she would do more for us!) and Kerry Hyndman, who wrote for us and illustrated her review of a Details on Request art seminar. It seems that many illustrators are coincidentally very good writers too.

Kingston illustration MA Gemma Milly
Gemma Milly’s exhibition space.

Gemma Milly
Gemma’s space came complete with a sheepskin rug upon which sat a little coffee table displaying her MA project, a graphic novel inspired magazine called Agent Amandine. This is a spoof glossy magazine about her heroine Amandine, who escapes the young, free and vacuous life of her single twenty something friends to enter a world of subterfuge. Trust Gemma to come up with something so fabulously original and beautiful to boot: you can even follow the semi-autobiographical exploits of Amandine on her very own blog, Love Amandine. Gemma is known for her wonderfully delicate and desirable female figures so of course her work is perfectly suited to fashion illustration – expect to catch up with her in my upcoming Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration.

Gemma Milly Italian straw hat
Gemma Milly Amandine cover

Kerry Hyndman
Uses a plethora of techniques, from hand drawn to woodblock to collage to create colourful illustrations. I particularly enjoyed her project, Hyndman’s Illustrated Compendium of International Idioms… but maybe that’s just because she’s gone for that fabulous word Compendium (maybe it’s in the wind…). Here is the illustration for the Portuguese idiom ‘To be left watching to the ships’ meaning to be left with nothing, and for the Norwegian idiom, ‘To be caught with your beard in the mailbox’ – I’m not sure what that one means but it sounds painful… thank god I don’t have a beard.

Kerry Hyndman sailor
kerry hyndman beardpostbox

Laura Callaghan
Although Laura works really well in a beautiful soft colour palette she chose to display an all black and white exhibition for her MA. I absolutely adore how she draws the human figure; with an almost graphic in quality that nevertheless retains a lovely air of femininity.

laura callaghan MA show Kingston
laura callaghan MA show Kingston
laura callaghan MA show Kingston
New discoveries (click on their names to access websites) were:

Sheena Dempsey
Sheena is a brilliant children’s book illustrator who cunningly uses the scaling of objects to create an exciting narrative. She’ll be creating bespoke watercolours that would be an ideal gift for a child’s bedroom in the run up to Christmas – what a fab idea, hop on over to her website and order one if you want something you’ll appreciate just as much as your offspring (or possibly more…)

Sheena Dempsey detail

Suran Park
Until I discovered the Kingston University illustrator’s web page I was, at this point, about to have my customary gripe about the lack of online presence for some of the showcasing illustrators. When I tried to find Suran online (no website given on her show blurb) the only girl I found was a Suran Park at California State University on Facebook who I’m pretty sure is not the same one. Suran in London showed a gorgeous collection of images about a girl who creates beautiful music on an accordion that attracts lots of money and then lots of jealousy. Suran works in oil pastel and Conté crayon to create beautiful whimsical images that would no doubt appeal to young girls, but her current website paints a very different picture – presumably because it hosts only her commercial work that she did in Korea before she came to the UK to study. It’s a real shame she hasn’t updated it yet.

Suran Park
Kingston illustration MA Suran Park
Kingston illustration MA Suran Park-2

Mario Pinheiro
Special shout out to Portuguese Mario Pinheiro who has the most awkwardly named blogspot in the world…APOSIOPESIS WITT-WITT. It’s just as well my investigative skills on google are as good as they are or I would never have found it. I mean, why make it so hard on yourself folks?! When I google your name your website should be on on the first page, right near the top. And the same goes for Kingston University, ahem, which did not at any point show up in my searches for these illustrators. Sort out your SEO, please. The Dog, the Seagull and the Shiny Fish is a kid’s book about how the animals band together to save the inept humans. Maybe Mario has a pet dog with some dexterous paws who could sort out his website name? Oh woops, I seem to have changed your url to
. Well I never how did that happen? Woof.

Kingston MA Mario Pinheiro

Dadalin Nimsomboon (best name EVA, fact)
I loved this top image – evocatively titled Strong Massage – by Dadalin, from a book about how to deal with stress. Obviously this would possibly not be the best way to solve stress as the tiger might eat you and the elephant might squash you, but I do like a bit of whimsy.

Dadalin Nimsomboon strong massage
Dadalin Nimsomboon paint nails

Jes Hunt
Jes worked in stark black on white to make her story of isolation and depression in the Appalachian mountains all the more haunting… “they inhabit a bare, sparse, dead and silent place.” As the relationships in a family improve colour creeps into her work. Very effective.

Dawn Front Cover- jes Hunt

Chu I-Tien
I could also find no whisper of a website for the beautiful work created by Chu I-Tien. “Lily is always alone. She always wants to have a sister or brother. Lily is always alone. She always checks her phone every five minutes.” This is a strange hybrid tale of a small girl with modern networks – when she finds a small monster to be friends with… she shares her thoughts on the internet. Psst… get onto twitter then Scarlett…

Kingston illustration MA Chu I-Tien

Jinyoung Kim
Another seemingly web free illustrator inspired by fantastical tales, this time of a forbidden love between a human and a dragon, if I have this correctly! Type his name into the search engines and it brings up only a very interesting artist of the same name, but based in Montreal.

Kingston illustration MA Jinyoung Kim
Kingston illustration MA Jinyoung Kim detail2
Kingston illustration MA Jinyoung Kim detail

These last pottery sculptures were by an illustrator who goes by the moniker of Wajay. Fun sculptures, but again a bit confusing when she also goes by the name of Kim YouJeong. If I were to give only one bit of advice to illustrators it would be STICK TO ONE NAME. It’s just way too confusing otherwise. Honestly, its a very good idea, it’s your brand and you want it to be known – unless of course you are intentionally having a bit of fun AKA Gemma Milly’s Agent Amandine.

Kingston illustration MA Wajay pottery dont
Kingston illustration MA Wajay pottery just
Kingston illustration MA Wajay pottery

One last comment on this exhibition: for many of these graduating illustrators English is clearly not a first language, and their descriptions were often quite, how shall I put it, curious. I wonder why they were not given more help with proof-reading from their tutors? But then, why they haven’t been asked to maintain an immaculate web presence as an absolute prerequisite for graduating is another mystery to me…

I have also reviewed LAB CRAFT, the design stands and sustainable design at Tent London – just click on the links to read more.


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