Linh Vuong - Image courtesy of the artist

The Return of the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper 2023

07 February 2023

23 November – 3 December 2023

General Public, Free Admission, by appointment (contact roslarts@rosl.org.uk)

Ngo Hai An | Nguyen Cam Anh | Cacho | Chyn | Vu Dinh Dinh | Dinh Kieu Duong | Nguyen Vu Xuan Lan | Lapule | Le Minh | Tra Nhu | Trang Pham | Thanh San | Tat Sy | Linh Vuong

This exhibition is the culmination of a year-long collaboration between Pop Up Projects (UK children’s literature development agency), Nhã Nam (Vietnam publisher) and Simon & Schuster (UK children’s publisher).

In Vietnam there are very few home-grown children’s picture books. This means that most children in Vietnam grow up reading picture books that do not reflect the cultures and communities they live in. As a world-leader in the craft of picture book making, a team from Simon & Schuster worked with Nhã Nam, children’s writer Trang Nguyen, and 15 experienced illustrators to develop a story that would resonate with children in Vietnam.

Trang Nguyen wrote a new narrative nonfiction picture book text called The Return of the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper. It tells the story of a near-extinct bird species returning to Vietnam, due to the efforts of conservationists to restore and protect its habitats.

Pop Up Projects then presented a two-week picture book course in Hanoi in September 2023, for 15 illustrators selected from a nationwide competition. Led by Jan Fearnley, best selling illustrator of 26 books for children, and Jane Buckely, Simon & Schuster’s award-winning art director, the course supported the illustrators to develop their own, diverse approaches to illustrating the story. Just six weeks later, each artist submitted four spreads from the 30 page story.

This exhibition allows each illustrator to tell one part of that story through 15 double-page spreads, presented in sequence along with the text for those pages. 18 additional pictures, extracted from the sequence as stand-alone pieces, are also presented throughout the exhibition.

The Return of the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper will be published by Nhã Nam, featuring the work of just one of the illustrators in this exhibition. But this is just the start of the story. The ultimate aim of this project is that all the participating illustrators will go on to make picture books that continue to reflect the people and places of Vietnam – and that will travel beyond Vietnam to reach young readers everywhere.

The exhibition will be presented at the Royal Over-Seas League in London, Manchester School of Art’s Vertical Gallery at Manchester Metropolitan University, and in Hanoi at Nhã Nam’s bookstores.

This exhibition is part of

The project and exhibition is supported by

Cam Anh - Image courtesy of the artist
Vu Dinh Dinh - Image courtesy of the artist
Chyn - Image courtesy of the artist
Cacho - Image courtesy of the artist
Tat Sy - Image courtesy of the artist
Vu Dinh Dinh - Image courtesy of the artist
Nguyen Cam Anh - Image courtesy of the artist
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