Hastings Illustration festival draws a crowd

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The first Hastings Illustration Festival (Hi-Fest) has been hailed a resounding success, attracting over 1,000 visitors, and raising hundreds of pounds for charity.

The one day event held at Hastings Coast College on Saturday December 6, was inspired by organisers Ali Graham and Nina Cosford. The family event attracted children and adults alike, keen to take part in workshops, purchase gifts and view the work presented by 75 talented illustration artists who were in attendence, including Sir Quentin Saxby Blake CBE.

6/12/14- Hastings Illustration Festival at Sussex Coast College.  Linda Kitson, Stuart and Sally Walton with famous artist Quentin Blake (centre right). SUS-140612-180742001

6/12/14- Hastings Illustration Festival at Sussex Coast College. Linda Kitson, Stuart and Sally Walton with famous artist Quentin Blake (centre right). SUS-140612-180742001

Sir Quentin, best known as Roald Dahl’s illustrator, has strong ties to Hastings and visitors to Hi-Fest had the opportunity to meet him and purchase signed copies of Hastings Old Town Preservation Society’s 2015 calendar, which Quentin illuatrated. On the cover Quentin designed an original Hastings sea drawing and inside the calendar, months are depicted with illustrations taken from his various books. Having written and illustrated over 35 books and worked on 250 more in his life there was a masssive body of work to chose from. He said: “I tried to pick appropriate pictures for the time of year.”

Quentin, Patron of the Old Town Preservation Society, has a house in the old town which he says he’s had for “a very long time” and which he used to escape to to get on with the job in hand - drawing. Of the Hi-Fest event he said: “I’m amazed by it and not surprised - it’s so very exciting. There have always been illustrators and artists here and there in Hastings and a few of them I know, but to have produced this event is an extraordinary achievement.

“I think it’s a wonderful site for it as well - it exploits the site brilliantly.”

He added: “It think it’s a triumph.”

Hi-Fest raised £570 for charity partner Trekstock - which supports young people with cancer - and a collection for the RNLI raised £25.

Ali Graham said for a first event the support for Hi-Fest had been amazing and they plan to make it an annual attraction. He added: “We are really, really pleased and happy that it was such a successful day for Hastings. There was such a high calibre of illustrators and it was really nice to see so many families there - young and old engaging with it all.

“Quentin Blake said such lovely things about the event - he such a wonderful character and such an inspiration - it was a treat for everyone to have him there.”