Sally's EPQ: creating children's picture books that explore grief

Sally's EPQ: creating children's picture books that explore grief

We recently interviewed Sixth Former Sally P. about her experience completing an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Her EPQ is entitled ‘Developing and Producing a wordless children’s picture book, that aims to support a child experiencing grief’.


Why did you choose this topic for your EPQ?

I was inspired by the topic of Art therapy, and wanted to investigate further into how images can reflect, and hold a viewer’s emotions. At the time of starting my project, I too had recently suffered a personal loss, which subsequently caused me to reflect upon the topic of grief through images and narrative. I was also aware that children, particularly young children, can often repress the emotions created by loss, and wanted to visually demonstrate that those emotions, however intense, can be accepted, and integrated into themselves. I also am simply a big fan of illustrated books!


What makes your EPQ unique and different?

My EPQ’s focus on grief differentiates it from other projects. Grief is a topic not often brought to the forefront of our societal mind, due to its intensity, and the negative emotions associated with it. However, I believe that grief and loss are in fact topics that should be explored and accepted in a safe environment – this would in turn prevent the repression and that can so damage an individual.


What skills have you developed doing the EPQ?

My use of digital art programs like Adobe Fresco, have introduced me to a whole new way to create artworks – it is those digital skills that I have furthered during this project.


How could your research, or the skills you have developed during the EPQ, be useful to you later in your life (e.g. at university)? Has the EPQ helped to prepare you for university life?

This project has firstly encouraged me to visually experiment, and try out ideas. Having had no previous knowledge of the digital creative platforms I used to create my illustrations, I was forced to test out each feature,  and its capabilities – this ability to experiment will be extremely useful for my creative studies in higher education.

The independent nature of an Extended Project Qualification is in itself a hugely beneficial aspect, especially within my own project. Having to independently conceptualise, plan, and create my own creative outcome was brilliant practice for the independent outcomes I will have to achieve in higher education in art.


Tell me a few interesting facts you’ve learned during your research.

When researching the benefits of illustrated books upon children, I discovered the particular impact of wordless picture books – this was a large turning point in my process, as it directly influenced the purely visual nature of my outcome. I came across a study conducted by Leslie Ross-Degnan M.Ed, and Christina Silvi M.A, in which the teachers of primary school age children replaced all the books in their classrooms with wordless picture books, rather than just illustrated ones. Upon observing these children, the teachers reported that their students were ‘telling the story from different points of view’; they were engaging with the ambiguity of wordless picture books, in which no clear written explanation is given, and coming up with different interpretations of plot and narrative. Each child, had their own, personal, reaction to the images they saw, and in discussing them with the other students in their class, simultaneously explored and accepted other possible narratives. I feel this understanding is the start of empathy building, which I believe is especially important at this time.