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The Grey Go Away Bird for Book Aid International

James Barker

We are thrilled to be teaming up with Book Aid International to celebrate World Book Day on 2nd March. To mark the occasion, we are donating copies of our picture book The Grey Go-Away Bird to Book Aid International to help promote literacy in Africa but we need your help! 

To help create a bigger impact, we propose that for every copy of The Grey Go-Away Bird book you purchase from us we donate a book to Book Aid International on your behalf! 

Across Africa, millions of people are unable to fulfil their potential because of a basic lack of books and reading resources. Literacy and access to information have been shown to reduce poverty, providing opportunities for work, increasing household income, even improving the health of children. A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five.

Book Aid International understands the pleasure and opportunities that reading can bring and believes everyone should have the opportunity to read. Through reading, people can change their own lives for the better and shape their own futures.

Your help is invaluable!

Our picture book tells the tale of The Grey Go-Away Bird – a real bird! –  can be found flying around Southern Africa. When alarmed, it emits a loud nasal sound which sounds like “goawaaay”.

The Grey Go-Away Bird is an original story, accompanied by innovative and quirky illustrations aimed predominantly at the 4-7 years age range, but will appeal to readers of all ages. The book is a gentle anti-bullying book with a difference that celebrates people’s unique qualities in a fun and unusual way.

The Grey Go-Away Bird is unlike the other birds on the island, and is often forgotten and overlooked by them. One day some smelly old bird-catchers arrive on the island and it's up to Grey Go-Away Bird to help the others before it's too late!

The Grey Go-Away Bird is an original story by author and illustrator James Barker. The illustrations were shortlisted for the Bologna Children's Book Fair 2014 and awarded merit by 3x3 Magazine.


Find out more about Book Aid International.

You can purchase your copy of The Grey Go-Away Bird picture book here.

Find out ways of getting involved in World Book Day.

 This campaign ends on 31 of March 11pm GMT. Books will be donated in April. 

Natural History X Etsy: Colour and Vision Exhibition

James Barker


After the success of the Alice in Wonderland collaboration with the British Library we were asked by Etsy if we would be interested in creating a bespoke range for the Natural History Museum. If our ranges are anything to go by then there was no way we could refuse! We were asked along with jewellery designer Mica Peet and illustrator Sandra Dieckmann to create an exclusive range inspired by the then upcoming exhibition Colour and Vision. 

The exhibition looks at how the entwined histories of colour and vision have filled the natural world with the vibrant hues and shades we see today. Uncovering over a 565 million year journey how vision first evolved and how colour in animals suddenly became the difference between life and death. 


We wanted to keep in line with the exhibition and focus more on the colours and variations found in nature rather than on specific animals themselves, which we felt would be too distracting from the theme. With this in mind we chose feathers and coral as our points of interest to highlight the amazing colours found in nature. 


Items from the exhibitions including our products are currently available exclusively at the Natural History Museum and their online shop.

The exhibition is due to be on display until November.



Shakespeare for The British Library

James Barker

In celebration of Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death, we have once again teamed up with the British Library Shop to create a very special collection to celebrate the world's most famous playwright. 

British Library Shakespeare Shop. Store illustrations by our Creative Director James Barker. Store design and visual merchandising by Exhibeo VM. Photos by Alberto Balazs.

British Library Shakespeare Shop. Store illustrations by our Creative Director James Barker. Store design and visual merchandising by Exhibeo VM. Photos by Alberto Balazs.

Last month we were asked by the lovely Arantxa Garcia of Exhibeo VM (who did the fantastic Alice in Wonderland shop display at the British Library Shop) and the British Library if we would be interested in collaborating for their latest exhibition shop for ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’. Naturally we jumped at the chance. 

Their proposal was for us to completely cover their retail space with illustrations inspired by the works and times of Shakespeare. Quite a challenge considering we had to fill walls over 10 metres wide! Going by their suggestions we proposed to create three different designs to span the shop.

Likely the first of our wall designs you will stumble across as you enter the shop space is our recreation of the balconies of the Globe Theatre, while just to the right we wanted to create the idea of a crowd in the theatre looking towards the stage (which in this case would be the products on display).

Just beside the till is probably our favourite and most fun to create, a scene inspired by the Tempest with the choppy waves and going up along the wall surrounding a rather uneasy looking ship.

We also can’t forget the inclusion by request of three designs we used for our costumes pattern featuring the Bard himself, Hamlet (the skull gives that one away), and Bottom, with the head of an ass.

All of the designs started as relatively reasonable sized drawings and to see them on such a scale and brought to life was as exciting as it was a relief! 

We are very grateful to Arantxa and Maxine at the British Library for giving us the opportunity to give us free reign over their walls and we sincerely hope that those who visit enjoy the complete experience that Arantxa has created even before entering the exhibition!

The ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’ exhibition runs from April 16th until September 6th 2016. In the shop you will find many of our Shakespeare-inspired products including our handkerchiefs, mugs, notebooks, tea towels and greetings cards, along with many other great products from other designers.