Talented young artists from South Wales have won the chance to have their illustrations included in a new novel about youth culture in the Valleys.
The illustrations of 11 learners from Coleg y Cymoedd will be featured in White Petals, the debut novelby author Maria Grace, from Pontypridd. The artistic learners entered a competition to have their illustrations included, and the winners were hand-picked by author Maria.
White Petals is a comic yet personal account of life in a Valleys children’s home for 14-year-old protagonist Emmeline, whose mother has become too sick to look after her. Maria specifically intended for her first book to be illustrated by young adults, for young adults, and teamed up with Welsh publisher Firefly Press to find the most suitable artists for the job.
After a tough competition, 27 gifted teenagers from across South Wales were chosen to contribute their illustrations towards the 36 chapters of the book. 11 of the young artists from Coleg y Cymoedd make up over a third of the illustrations in the book, with some of the learners contributing twice.
Speaking about illustrating two chapters of White Petals, learner at Coleg y Cymoedd, Aerun Edwards, 17 from Rhondda, explained, “We were all assigned our own chapters to illustrate so it allowed us to be creative.”
“I’m hoping to study Level 3 Art and Design at Coleg y Cymoedd next year, so this experience has been invaluable for a potential career in the creative industry.”
The artists were presented with a signed copy of the book, a certificate and a white rose at the White Petals launch at the college’s Nantgarw campus. The book launch is part of Coleg y Cymoedd’s annual creative industries summer show that showcases the institution’s fresh talent, with their winning young illustrators giving them all the more reason to celebrate.
The book was part of Maria’s dissertation from the University of Glamorgan in 2011, where she graduated with a first-class honours degree in Creative and Professional Writing. “The idea for the illustrations came very early on for me”, Maria said.
“I knew from day one that I wanted the novel to have something different about it, and I wanted to provide an opportunity for young artists to test themselves and their talents by entering the illustration competition. I can’t explain how proud I am of them all. They delight me, they really do.”
Coleg y Cymoedd tutor, Paul Lavagna, commented, “We’re thrilled that Maria chose to work with Coleg y Cymoedd on this unique project. For many of the learners, this will be a great stepping stone for a career in art or illustration. The book looks fantastic, and the illustrations are a testament to the talented young people here at the college and across South Wales.”
Above: Coleg y Cymoedd learner Aerun Edwards with author Maria Murphy
Above: Coleg y Cymoedd learner Petra Silva with author Maria Murphy