In partnership with National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters during Kuwait International Book Fair 44 and as a reflection of the 120 Years of Friendship celebrations, the book fair announced for the first time the UK as the Guest of Honour for the  book fair 44 , where the exhibition was on display from 20 – 30 November 2019.

The 120 Years of Friendships was the anniversary year (2019) of the Kuwait-British friendship treaty (protection agreement) which was signed by the governor of Kuwait Sheikh Mubarak bin Sabah Al Sabah, with the British government in 1899.

Drawing Words is commissioned by the British Council Kuwait and curated by the Waterstones UK Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child. The exhibition features ten illustrators from across the UK whose work makes an important and original contribution to contemporary British picture book illustration.

Through Drawing Words, the British Council examined the role that literature plays in bringing people and communities together across cultures and borders, an important aspect of British Council’s work.

Alongside the display of the illustrations we also partnered with Takween , Imaginitq8American University of Kuwait and Gulf University for Science and Technology to put together an engaging Programme that complemented the displayed illustrations and allowed the public to interact with the literature. Two of the exhibiting UK artists; Yasmeen Ismail - an award-winning author, illustrator and animator as well as David Mackintosh - graphic designer, illustrator and author visited Kuwait as part of these activities which brought together children, novelists, illustrators, publishers, teachers, academics and other educators to learn about and explore issues of common concern, challenges and opportunities as well as best practices both in Kuwait and the United Kingdom.

Program Activites 

Storytelling Sessions

Yasmeen and David individually delivered a total of six interactive storytelling sessions that engaged with and inspired up to 110 young students. The participating children had a wonderful time and the sessions also received excellent reviews from their teachers and parents.

Panel Discussion

Two artist from Kuwait ( Zahra Al-Mahdi, an artist, writer and filmmaker , Nusaiba Almunayes, an artist and children's books illustrator ) joined David Mackintosh on a panel that was moderated by Dr Lavinia Davenport to encourage a dialogue on the opportunities and challenges within the literature sector, both in the UK and in Kuwait. This interesting discussion created awareness about a sector that is often overlooked and was attended by more than 40 people. With the aim to be inclusive and reach out to a wider audience, the discussion was in English and Arabic with headsets available for those who weren’t bilingual.


Yasmeen Ismail delivered a workshop “Making Picture Books, an introduction to stories, illustration and publishing for children” to over 30 university students studying art, specifically children’s illustrations. The students were introduced to the industry and the process of creating a children’s picture book from start to finish. It also included a talk about Yasmeen’s journey into becoming an author/illustrator and picture book critique. All of this was punctuated with relevant exercises and a chance at the end to ask questions and learn from her experiences.


David Mackintosh presented a talk to almost 100 university students on “Making Book: My Picture Book Practice” which was an informal presentation about his work and how he makes his books and a living as an artist/author. It provided an overview of his practice and an insight into book publishing and he also discussed the publishing process from idea to printed book.