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Jul 21

Pressgang! with the Historical Maritime Society


Would you like to sail with Captain Cook? It wasn't all plain sailing!


Picture Hooks presents its annual conference, now in its fifth year, hosted by the Central Library in Middlesbrough.

This is a great opportunity for aspiring and early-career illustrators and writers to get an insider’s view into the picture book industry, with illuminating talks from leading publishing experts and agents.

We are joined this year by Deidre McDermott, Picture Book Publisher and Creative Director at Walker Books and Sarah Lawrance from Seven Stories in Newcastle. Our key note speaker is award-winning illustrator Chris Mould, and the conference will also feature break out sessions with the team at Orange Beak Studio - award winning illustrators Maisie Shearring and Pam Smy, and designer Ness Wood. We will end the day with a discussion on the financial deal - so lots of information for any aspiring picture book illustrator.

The Dorman Museum will be the first venue for our touring exhibition, opening alongside the conference. The core of the the Picture Hooks programme is a mentorship scheme in which five emerging illustrators are paired with established mentors. The Picture Hooks exhibition features the work produced over the year, as well as some work from the mentors: Debi Gliori (The Night Shift), Patrick Benson (Owl Babies), Helen Stephens (How to Hide A Lion), Ross Collins (There's A Bear in My Chair), and Steve Antony (Please Mr Panda). The exhibition opens at the Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh before touring.

Also alongside the conference, award-winning author, recent recipient of the Scottish Book Trust Outstanding Achievement Award, and one of our trustees, Vivian French, will be visiting local schools to talk about writing and illustrating stories.

Last year the conference was held in Manchester, hosted by Manchester College of Art, in partnership with the Association of Illustrators. We were hugely pleased with the response and will be continuing to push industry contact with the north of England and Scotland.

"I wish there was a way to make a day like this compulsory for all Illustration students. I felt like I learned more during this one day than I did throughout the whole of my BA."

"It was an education in so many ways, not just about picture books, but also about communication, how to get yourself 'out there' and generally how other illustrators go about their work in general. Fascinating!"

- Feedback from 2017 delegates

Tickets can be booked via

Central Library

The Central Public Library was officially opened in 1912 by Alderman Amos Hinton. Built on two plots of land, one donated by Sir Hugh Bell, the other by Alderman Amos Hinton, the foundation stone was laid in 1910 and the building, sometimes known as the Carnegie Library, was officially opened on May 8, 1912. Featuring a classical design selected from 203 submissions, its architects were Messrs. S. B. Russell and T. E. Cooper, of Gray's Inn Square, London.

In its original form, it provided a lending library where boys' and girls' sections were separated by a screen, a ladies' reading room, a central news room with a separate entrance in Grange Road, and on the first floor were the law and patent and reference libraries. This was Middlesbrough's first purpose-built premises to house its public library.

Further contact information

Lending Library: 01642 729002;

Reference Library: 01642 729001;

Opening times

Monday 9.30am-7pm
Tuesday 9.30am-7pm
Wednesday 9.30am-5pm
Thursday 9.30am-7pm
Friday 9.30am-5pm
Saturday 9.30am-5pm
Sunday Closed