Scottish Folk and Fairy Tale Illustration

We’re delighted to welcome back our artist-in-residence, Dr Katie Forrester! Katie has been with us in the Museum of Childhood archive since Selcie‘s inception, sketching and drawing, and reflecting on her own practice as an illustrator and teacher. Although the pandemic has sadly kept us away from its book collection, Katie’s post shows how it’s continued to inspire and nurture her imagination in recent work which she shares with us here…


“Recently, I had the fortune to display illustrations made during my time studying in Edinburgh in an exhibition of work created by staff at the University of Gloucestershire, where I now teach Illustration.

The work I included were lino prints depicting recurring characters found in Scottish folktales that I explored in the archives of the Museum of Childhood during visits as artist in residence with SELCIE.

In particular, I was inspired by characters in Celtic Wonder Tales by Ella Young (1910), and a book that was gifted to me by friends entitled The Folk Tales of Scotland by Norah and William Montgomerie (2008). These publications spoke of characters such as Ghillie-Dhu, a mischievous woodland spirit, the infamous, illusive Selkies, and the Stoor Worm who greedily gobbled villages whole.

Folktales describe and make relatable the beauty and challenges of existing and surviving within the natural world, which are once again prevalent in our everyday conversations and stories in new ways. I hope to make a publication of the collection of Celtic creatures to capture experiences of the changing environment we are all encountering and hearing tales of. Reinvented stories of such creatures may enable us to grapple with and exist within nature’s forces, as all mysterious and magical creatures exist among us through storytelling in its many forms”.

Katie Forrester, August 2021

‘Ghillie Dhu’ (2020) by Katie Forrester

‘Stoor Worm’ (2020) by Katie Forrester

‘The Bull of Norroway’ (2020) by Katie Forrester

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