Jackie Morris, most recently known for her collaboration with Landmark’s author, Robert MacFarlane, on the beautifully illustrated The Lost Words, dropped by the Spiegeltent at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to talk about her work, collaborating, and how this all came about.

Focusing initially on The Lost Words, the illustrator describes the writing in the book as more like spells than poems, it combines art and poetry to create something rather unique, which according to Morris, “caught like brambles onto people’s minds.” It has been a wonderful gifting title with the combination of painted animals and obtuse lettering.

However, we are soon informed that Robert is not the first writer she has worked with having also worked with the prolific poet, Ted Hughes and fantasy writer, Robin Hobbs. She is obviously very able to adapt and a style that’s versatile, but it also means she is well versed in great collaboration. And for a Sunday after the debauchery of the Book Festival Launch party it is a fine place to be, in the Spiegeltent discussing illustration.

When she spoke of the processes regarding The Last Words, she exclaimed, “throw the alphabet onto the page and use the different coloured words to turn it into poetry” reminding us of The Lost Words exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, which we have all been advised to trek to.

There was a real sense of a love for her job as she surmises, “I love damaging bits of paper with my mark making,” also modestly humbling the work she does. But there is obviously an audience here that sees beyond that as they are all here to see the talented illustrator talk and convey her generous spirit. When questioned on the act of illustrating in hospitals she exclaimed, “what a privilege to have your work seen in such circumstances in which not everyone is going to be healed but will give people peace,” saddening and uplifting in equal measure.

There is a sense of fresh ideas, innovative approaches and sheer motivation from Morris which is great to see, and her prodding and questioning the style that her and Robert took highlights that precisely. More of this kind of thing please.

For more on the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2018 click here.