As Brightonians, we are very lucky to be surrounded by inspiring artists. There is a tendency to take this environment for granted. Especially because we tend to befriend these artists and become engrossed in their inner workings, turmoils, challenges and triumphs. I am certainly guilty, for good reasons, to see my friends as fantastic friends first, before seeing them as the amazing artists that they are. My friend, Emmi Smid, is one of these artists. I’ve always known that she’s a great artists, but still, I was awestruck the first time I read the manuscript of her children’s book: Luna’s Red Hat.
Fast forward to the present day, and Luna’s Red Hat is about to be published through Jessica Kingsley Publishers. It will hit the stores – online and physical – on April 21st, 2015. The book is a beautifully sad and sobering account of Luna’s emotions, as she tries to grapple with the reality of losing her mother. With a melancholic soul, I lapped myself in the story. Luna’s emotions brilliantly shines and bleeds through the colours and the brushstrokes of the artwork. Emmi also crafted a courageous and positive father figure in the story – which I think is a terrific and realistic presentation of a parental figure in an unfortunate and challenging situation. This book managed to bring a smile to my face and simultaneously shook me with pensive sadness. And for that, I tip my hat to my lovely friend and artist, Emmi Smid.
SUICIDE AND DEPRESSION ARE NOT EASY THEMES TO EXPLORE. THEY REQUIRE A LOT OF BRAVERY TO CONVEY IN A CHILDREN’S BOOK. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE THIS BOOK?
When I was 16, I lost a friend whom I have grown up with. The event seriously shook and affected me. When I was 21, I lost an aunt through similar circumstances. Subsequently, I found it increasingly hard to make friends and to form any healthy relationships. I – irrationally – thought that making any effort with people is futile – I felt that people will eventually leave through sickness or suicide. My aunt had two children, who were 9 and 13 at the time of her death. Through my struggles, I could recognise the challenges the children were facing, and I could only imagine their anguish. I suppose this book is a reflection of my increased understanding in my dealing with bereavement. I think this book could help children and parents alike, in facing challenges such as a loss of family members. I am very grateful to have received the support of a bereavement specialist, Dr Riet Fiddelaers-Jaspers, in the making of this book.
DO YOU FIND LIVING IN BRIGHTON HELPFUL IN THE PROCESS OF CREATING THIS BOOK?
Yes, definitely. I recently graduated with an MA in Sequential Design/Illustration from the University of Brighton, and it was very advantageous to be in a supportive University environment. I was surrounded with professionals who were invaluable with their support and advice. In addition, I’m also surrounded with terrific illustrators and artists as friends. For instance, I share a house with a lovely artist, Megan Robinson. As I do a lot of work from home, living with her helps fuel my creativity. We spent a lot of time bouncing ideas with each other. We also get to criticise each other’s work constructively.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEXT PROJECT
I am working on another picture book about the plight of bees. I think this is another project that fits the Brighton mould rather nicely. It touches on a subject that is very important, and yet largely unexplored. Currently, I am on my third draft and I think it is coming along nicely. On this project, I’ve enlisted the help of Chris Owen, a biologist, as my primary scientific source. He will provide the nitty gritty about the plight of bees and their importance in our ecosystem. Hopefully, this book will increase the children’s awareness with regards to the plight of bees. Maybe they will help plant more bee friendly flowers after reading this book! I am also happily receiving the formal support of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
Arry at Brighton Creatives