In this episode, Alice interviews artist Jill Calder, author James Robertson and illustrator/book designer Jim Hutcheson, who is Creative Director at the Scottish publishing company Birlinn Books. One summer, Jim was exploring the wares in a small bookshop in Spain when he came across an illustrated history of the life of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, a Castilian knight also known as ‘El Cid’ or ‘El Campeador’. That got him thinking about the representation of other medieval warriors in literature, especially in children’s books, and inspired him to commission Jill and James to create a new illustrated history of Robert the Bruce, published in 2014.
Robert the Bruce is famous for many reasons, but particularly for leading the First War of Scottish Independence; so Jill, James and Jim quickly began wrestling with how to represent war and violence in art and text, with a young readership in mind. In the podcast, we discuss the decisions they took about how to represent iconic battles and acts of cruelty that today might count as war crimes. We talk about the layers that art can add to text, and vice versa; their memories of begin fascinated as well as horrified by the war stories they came across as children; how young readers can blur but also distinguish between fact and fiction; and the role that historical war stories can play in prompting young people to ask important questions about modern conflicts and war in general.
Among other questions, Alice asked:
We hope you enjoy the episode!
For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link. If you want to find out more about our conversation, you can read these two blogs here and here.
For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website.
Music composed by Jonathan Young
Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin