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Helen Musselwhite winner of the V&A Illustration Awards 2014

03 Jun 2014

Helen Musselwhite winner of the V&A Illustration Awards 2014
Helen Musselwhite was acclaimed as overall winner in the V&A Illustration Awards last night for her work in Dance Gazette. David Jays celebrates her achievement.

I have spent many hours in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Gazing at treasures from the Arab world. Gawping at craftwork from China and Korea. Goggling at the florid extremes of costume, silverwork and glassware. And, frequently, admiring the prizewinners in the annual Illustration Awards – perhaps the most prestigious prize for illustration.

The V&A is one of the world’s great museums, so I couldn’t quite believe I was looking at a copy of Dance Gazette lying open in a glass display case yesterday evening, beneath one of the glorious paper sculptures by Helen Musselwhite for which she was presented with both the Editorial Illustration and Overall awards. Helen designed her ‘joy’ and ‘despair’ skulls to illustrate Audrey Niffenegger’s sprightly takedown of ‘10 myths about creativity’ in Dance Gazette last year.

With their rainbows and starbursts, baying wolf and direful raven, the skulls are extraordinary creations. We were delighted to feature them in Dance Gazette, and beyond thrilled to see their quality recognised with an award that has previously been won by celebrated artists like Quentin Blake and Ralph Steadman.

Helen makes paper sing, and her work looks perfectly at home in the premier museum of arts and crafts. It expresses ideas, creates them with delicious, painstaking skill – and above all creates something of beauty from the humblest of materials.

Working with inspired artists, writers and photographers is one of the joys of editing Dance Gazette. Under Alfonso Iacurci’s art direction, it can be a true collaboration, in which a contributor’s vision marries with exciting subject matter to produce something extraordinary. As well as Helen, we have worked with renowned illustrators like Ping Zhu, Stuart Kolakovic, Thomas Allen and Andrzej Krauze. In the latest issue, Helen Musselwhite describes how she created the skulls, and there are also beautiful illustrations by Marta Dul, Alice Smith and Christian Tate – everything from painterly fantasy to a superbly cheeky infographic.

I am immensely proud that Dance Gazette played a part in Helen’s fantastic achievement, and that the magazine has become a home where inspired illustrators can create magic. It is a privilege to work with them, and to be able to share their work with our readers.

You can see other examples of Helen's work at

The V & A press release also has further details and a list of the winners in the various categories. 

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