Harry Potter illustrator gives illuminating talk

“Anybody questioning the need for libraries in schools need only to look to events like this,” said Derby High School's library resources manager

The illustrator chosen by JK Rowling to help bring her Harry Potter books to life has told students how he found inspiration for his work by revisiting the county of his birth.

Derbyshire-born Jim Kay explained to pupils and their families at Derby High School that he was fascinated by the 18th century artist, Joseph Wright of Derby, and that he took photos of the riding stables at Calke Abbey and used them as inspiration for Hagrid’s hut.


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“I just loved the colours in the stables and I used them for an illustration I did of Buckbeak on a bed in Hagrid’s hut,” said Kay. “If you struggle with colour then just take a note of colours you see that work together.”

Kay has so far completed illustrations for four books in the Harry Potter series, with the latest – the Goblet of Fire – newly published by Bloomsbury Books.

“Children are very difficult to draw,” he told his audience.

“If you add a line you can age them by years. What I would say is don’t worry about the craft of drawing and don’t think you can’t be an artist if you can’t draw. If you do it a lot you will get better at it. Embrace mistakes. I go wrong all the time and sometimes you get happy accidents with mistakes.”

Pupils dressed appropriately for the occasion

The visit was organised by the school’s library resources manager, Sue Bussey.

“Anybody questioning the need for libraries in schools need only to look to events like this,” she said.

“The excitement and sheer joy of the young people, many of whom had dressed in their robes for the occasion, made the school and the library buzz.”