Last week saw a visit to the Seven Stories Collections Department from author / illustrator Gillian McClure.

Gillian McClure at the Seven Stories Collections Department

Over the years Gillian has donated finished and preliminary artwork for many of her titles to the Seven Stories Collection, giving a comprehensive insight into her creative process, from first ideas through to finished artwork.
Her archive also displays a wonderful mastery of different media, including watercolour, acrylic and coloured glazes.

Gillian was visiting to be interviewed as part of the Picturebook in Progressproject, with her insights to be used as part of a digital learning resource currently in development for aspiring illustrators.

One of the main topics of discussion was Gillian’s illustrations for Tog the Ribber, a uniquely scary and innovative picturebook written by her father Paul Coltman.

While discussing the origins of the book, Gillian surprised us all by revealing her early artwork for the first draft of the book which stands in complete contrast to the version which hit the shelves in 1985.

Artwork from the first draft of Tog the Ribber

The black and white crosshatching and colour wash give the first draft a completely different texture to the published artwork, while Gillian went onto explain that the final version’s wonderful depth came from constant experimentation with masking fluid and acrylic paint.

Most interestingly of all, the first draft lacks the outright nightmarish quality of the final artwork, Gillian herself admitting that she felt too protective towards the main character in this early version. A combination of allowing the skeletal character of Tog more prominence in the story and the introduction of page borders dividing safety and peril give the finished book a genuinely haunting quality.

Artwork from the first draft of Tog the Ribber

Final artwork for Tog the Ribber

Gillian has kindly donated the artwork for the first draft of Tog the Ribber to the Seven Stories Collection where it will sit alongside the final artwork, providing a deeper insight into an endlessly interesting book.

Learn more about Gillian McClure by visiting her website http://www.gillianmcclure.comand blog

To book a visit to Seven Stories Collection department or learn more about the forthcoming Picturebook in Progress Digital Learning Resource, please contact

Limited Copies of Tog the Ribber signed by Gillian McClure are available to buy in the Seven Stories Bookshop. Please email or call 0191 261 2000 to order.