KidZone Newsletter – July 2018

A summary of creative events and artistic activities for kids this month. Coverage of the Royal Academy of Arts’ 250th Birthday Celebration, plus an interview with children’s author and illustrator – Debi Gliori!


The Royal Academy of Arts has a great Summer programme planned for families.  Keep up with the news using #RA250 on social media.

1.  Royal Academy of Arts Family Sessions

The Royal Academy is celebrating its 250th Anniversary this Summer, and as such is putting on a whole host of free family workshops to enjoy!  Here are just some of the tempting events on offer:-

3.  London Art College – Children’s Online Art Course

London Art College are currently running a Drawing for Children Online Art Course 1 (YA1) (age 7+).  With a guaranteed-professional art tutor who has years of experience in working with children, your child can follow an illustrated, step-by-step guide to basic drawing techniques.  The course gives the opportunity for learners to embrace the understanding of form, shade and composition years before they attend Key Stage 3, providing a huge boost to their creative skills.  (See details at

4.  These lightning bolt cushions by Etsy seller SilverlightningCo come with lights (£24.00) or without lights (£20.00).

4.  Kids’ Interiors – Superheroes

What with all the current Marvel and Comic Con mania in the world’s media, Art Today decided to investigate the superhero theme for our Kids’ Interiors segment.  Our go-to site Etsy yielded these beauties designed by SilverlightningCo.  The company have received rave reviews for their quality, handmade goodies.  Get them here:

5.  July Art Activity – Mermaid Slime

[WARNING!  This activity recipe contains clear glue and contact lense solution!  As such, this activity has an age 10+ and under-adult-supervision-only recommendation.].

Register your child for juvenile auditions at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, now!

6.  Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Cinderella Auditions

Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre will commence juvenile auditions for its Christmas Panto on 1st July!  The theatre are looking for 3 teams of eight girls for the juvenile chorus, stating that applicants must be:-

No taller than 4’6″, under 13 years of age, have good dance and singing ability, and should wear appropriate dance attire.

(See details at

7.  5 minutes with… Debi Gliori!

Debi Gliori at work in her studio.

Debi Gliori is a children’s author/illustrator of immense talent, currently living in Scotland. Her beautiful and atmospheric illustrations have graced children’s picture books and storybooks for decades.  She was the first Shetland Islands’ Children’s Writer In Residence, and has been shortlisted for the Greenaway Award (twice), along with the Scottish Arts Council Award.  She published her first book in 1990, and has lost count of the number of books published since then.

We spent 5 minutes with her to ask what inspired her to choose art as a career, and for any tips she may have for budding artists…

What inspired you to become an artist?  I went to painting classes at Glasgow School of Art (The Mack) as a child on Saturday morning, and the smell of linseed oil and the gritty charcoal dust got under my skin. I felt I’d come home.

Debi’s most recent children’s publication with Bloomsbury (2017) (£12.99).  Her other titles published that year include:  Goodnight World, paperback price £6.99 and Alfie in the Woods, hardback price £11.99.

What do you like about your chosen genre?  It allows me to paint 15 linked paintings and have them widely and cheaply sold for anyone to enjoy.  Unlike one-off paintings.

Where do you get inspiration for your characters from?  From my own children and from my imagination.

Who is your favourite artist?  Tove Jansson.

Where did you train?  Edinburgh College of Art.

The book that inspired the interview! Beautiful illustrations with a fable-style storyline concerning saving the environment – what’s not to love?

Which is your most popular character? Small from No Matter What.

What’s your favourite motivational motto?  Only connect.

What would you say to an aspiring artist?  Never give up. Dig deeper. 

What are your favourite artistic materials?  Charcoal. Watercolour paints.  

Who is your favourite supplier of artistic materials?  Shop: Greyfriars in Edinburgh.  Maker of paints: Winsor & Newton.  Paper: Fabriano.

Of her newest publication: All The Way Home, Debi’s publishers (Bloomsbury) reveal:-

‘Daddy Penguin has to look after the egg while Mummy is finding fish. But he wanders away from the Dad Huddle and he and the egg are whisked up into the air by a gust of wind, landing in the Arctic. Brave Daddy must find out where he is and how to get home. But the Arctic creatures aren’t that friendly and he stumbles along in the cold, lost … until he bumps into a reindeer, who takes them to breakfast with the Special Air Navigation Transport Authority – Can brave Daddy Penguin and his new little one get all the way home before Mummy returns? If only penguins could fly…’.



Merete (currently residing Gothenburg, Sweden) donates her preemie designs to various Swedish hospitals.  She can be reached on Instagram and Facebook (see credits below) for custom requests.

8. Merete Ostmann’s beautiful, hand-made, one-off, couture preemie outfits.

8.  Design Favourite – Preemie Couture

The subject of premature babies sits close to Art Today’s heart.  When we caught up with Preemie Couture fashion designer – Merete Östmann – on social media, we just had to share her work in our magazine!

Merete is one of those kind and honourable souls who donate their pieces to hospitals for free.  As a parent, when you are in the unexpected and traumatic position of your pre-term baby being treated in emergency intensive care, having someone on hand to provide especially-tailored clothes, sleepwear or blankets can be immensely helpful.  Most shops – whether high street or online – sell an extremely limited stock for this age group, and with babies being born earlier and earlier these days, they can be resident in intensive care for extended periods.

Merete Ostmann

Merete’s designs go above and beyond necessity.  They are carefully and sensitively produced, funky, fashionable and cute outfits that go that extra mile.  If you know of someone who is in the throes of this difficult and emotional time, try contacting Merete to commission a one-off outfit for their baby.  They will love you for it!


This year’s Camp Bestival will include appearances from children’s TV entertainers Dick and Dom, Mister Maker and Mr Tumble, as well as activities by ZSL London Zoo and the Royal Albert Hall.

9.  Family Festival – Camp Bestival (26-29th July, Lulworth)

According to festival organisers, kids are king at Camp Bestival!  They have a plethora of activities billed for kids of all ages.  From The World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle to an Insect Circus, from Rob da Bank’s Music Club to a dedicated teen zone for 13-17 year-olds – Bestival has it all.  This is one of those festivals that really goes that extra mile for families – even featuring Mr Tumble!  Get down to its beautiful Dorset-coast location (Lulworth Castle) this month for a truly energising experience!  (See our upcoming, pre-event feature article for more details…).


[Credits: Feature image – Yaoyao c.2017 (;;; Facebook – merete_syr; Instagram – @merete_syr;;;;;;;  Debi Gliori PR at Bloomsbury]


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