Date posted 09 Jun 2022

Portrait Making Workshops in all Bromley Libraries to Celebrate the Platinum Jubilee


During the months of April and May, Bromley Libraries Children’s Team planned, organised and helped run a number of portrait-making sessions for approximately 454 primary school children in all the 14 libraries. These were led by a number of children’s book illustrators. All the portraits created by the children will be displayed in The Glades Shopping Centre from June 2022 and will form part of the #EveryoneARoyal Project.

Below is a brief summary of the libraries where the sessions took place plus which illustrators and year groups were involved:

Day 1: Mottingham , St Paul’s Cray and Chislehurst libraries were visited by 79 children across Year 1 and Year 4  and enjoyed a fun portrait making session with Jake Alexander author and illustrator of ‘We Want Our Books’ and illustrator of ‘Black and British: An Illustrated History’ by David Olusoga.

Day 2: Beckenham and Penge libraries hosted the sessions with author and illustrator Fiona Woodcock who has illustrated a number of books but for the sessions with the school children she focused on the book ‘Hiding Heidi’ which she wrote as well as illustrated. Fiona explained how the background to the artwork was just as important as the portrait itself and how this can reflect the child’s personality or interests. She showed the children how they could enhance the background to their portraits. Both libraries had a total of 90 children attending from Year 1, 4 and Reception.

Day 3: Southborough, Shortlands and Hayes libraries were visited by 66 children spread across all primary year groups. The sessions were run by Inbal Leitner who has written and illustrated the book ‘The Longest, Strongest Thread’ published by Scallywag Press. Inbal used a fascinating paint technique which involved string, paper and acrylic paint. Visit The Glades to see the incredible abstract portraits that the children have created!

Day 4: Orpington and Biggin Hill libraries had author and illustrator Rikin Parekh to run their sessions for 49 children from Years 3 and 4. Rikin began by doing some live drawing which amazed the children and adults. The children produced fabulous works of art which were totally inspired by Rikin’s unique style. Rikin is the author of ‘Fly, Tiger Fly’ and also has illustrated a number of other books for children, most recently, ‘Yes You Can, Cow’ written by Rashmi Sirdeshpande.

Day 5: Petts Wood and West Wickham libraries had fun paint filled sessions delivered by Loretta Schauer to 90 children from Years 2, 3 and 5. Loretta chatted to the children about portrait making and showed lots of great examples and then suggested ways in which the portraits could have details and interest added to them. Loretta has illustrated a number of books for children, her latest being ‘Snowy White – Fairy Tales for the Fearless’ written by Gareth P. Jones.

Day 6: Bromley Central and Burnt Ash libraries were visited by 80 children from Year 4 across both libraries. The author and illustrator Padmacandra ran a very interactive session focusing on ‘My Hero Self’. The children were invited to brainstorm what a hero was and what qualities would a hero have. With the help of a template the heroes began to take shape. Padmacandra has illustrated the book ‘The Tale of the Whale’ written by Karen Swann.

The ‘Portrait Making Project’ with six different illustrators across all 14 libraries was an incredible success for a number of reasons. The children were able to meet and engage with an author/illustrator and find out about their creative process to produce their wonderful books. Being shown certain art techniques, equipment and materials gave the children confidence to create their own portraits and to be inspired by art illustration. The fact that the portraits were going to be displayed in The Glades gave them a huge sense of pride and ownership. We are very grateful to London Borough of Bromley for funding this project and we hope that in the future more projects like this could be developed.