26. Oct 2017 - 29. Oct 2017

This autumn, the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017, and the city’s library Dokk1 joins forces with the renowned Hay Festival to present the first International Children’s Literature Festival in Denmark. The event follows the publication of two anthologies (Odyssey and Quest, translated into Danish and English; edited by Daniel Hahn) which feature new stories written on the theme of ‘journey’ by 39 children’s and young adult authors under the age of 40. 

The British Council is delighted to support this event which will enable some of the best writers, illustrators and translators from Britain and Denmark to reach out to children and young adults at workshops, panel discussions and school visits. 

Cortina Butler, Director Literature, British Council, said:

 "We have worked with Hay Festival supporting their programme of international festivals for many years and were delighted to have the opportunity to work with them on the new childrenís festival in Aarhus. We were very pleased to support the Danish-Polish childrenís illustrator Kamila Slocinska as British Council Illustrator in Residence at Hay Festival this year, and are looking forward to her return to her home city of Aarhus for the festival.

 "It is great to see a festival that will help to raise the profile of writing and illustration for children generally and create an international platform for childrenís writers and illustrators to share their work.

"It aligns perfectly with our own British Council Literature focus for the next two to three years on showcasing the work of UK childrenís writers and illustrators. By supporting Aarhus 2017 and Hay Literature Festival, we hope to inspire more children to explore works coming from different cultures and open their imaginations to new ideas."

Cristina Fuentes La Roche, International Director at Hay Festival, said, "Europe is home to some of the best writers for young people of all time. In a world that feels increasingly divided, these borderless shared stories unite us in empathy, encouraging us to experience lives lived in other countries and cultures in a way that nothing else can."

Who’s writing?

Bridget Collins won the Young National Poetry Competition twice before going on to study English at the University of Cambridge. She then trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), before finally realising that she wanted to be a writer. Her first book, The Traitor Game, won the Branford Boase Award. It was described by The Guardian as "a rich, eventful and elegant parable about dealing with reality by taking refuge in imaginary worlds". She wrote a further six other young adult novels, which were published by Bloomsbury. Bridget has been shortlisted for the Stonewall Awards and the Coventry Inspiration Award, longlisted for the UKLA Award and nominated for the Carnegie Medal several times. Her story, Nearly Home, appears in the Odyssey anthology. 

You can read Bridget’s blog here.

Peder Frederik Jensen is a Danish author. He was born in 1978 in Copenhagen and attended Forfatterskolen, The Danish School of Writers. His debut was in 2007 with the novel Her står du (You’re Standing Here).  But writing isn’t Peder’s only talent. He is a trained boat-builder and writes about his travels in Africa. Peder received the Albert Dams Mindelegat, a scholarship for Danish writers, in 2012, the Dramatic Debut Award 2015 and the highly prestigious Otto Gelsted Prize in 2016.  His story, We’re Practicing to be Grown-ups, appears in Odyssey. You can watch a trailer for Peder’s book Vold here

If you are you also inspired to start writing for children or young adults, you can get some tips in this British Council magazine article about how to be creative and productive according to the rules of Roald Dahl. What should you really consider when writing stories for children? We also have some advice from Don Long about what to consider when writing stories for children

Who’s illustrating?

Danish-Polish illustrator and children’s book writer, Kamila Slocinska, is this year’s British Council Illustrator in Residence. She is based in Aarhus, Denmark and has illustrated many children’s books, including Røver (The Thief) and Paradis by Kim Fupz Aakeson, Heartbeats by Boris Hansen and Wuwu & Co by Merete Pryds Helle. You can read Kamila’s British Council blog from Hay here.

Find out about Kamila Slocinska's Illustration Hub  at Aarhus 2017.

Ross Collins is a British illustrator from Shawland in Glasgow. He is based in Scotland and lives with his wife and dog. Ross has illustrated more than one hundred books for children including This Zoo is Not for You, My Amazing Dad and Doodleday. He’s written a few too, such as Elephantom, Sterling and the Canary and Cheesemares. When Ross is not creating children's books, he works on character development for animation studios such as Laika and Disney. In 2016 he won a major human rights prize, Amnesty CILIP Honour, for There’s a Bear on My Chair. Ross’s drawings appear in the Quest anthology. 

Watch Ross read There’s a Bear on my Chair.

How do books help us expand our imaginations? 

Award-winning author Bernardine Evaristo has written an article for the British Council Voices Magazine about reading books against the internet's distractions, as well as which new writers to look out for. Read Bernardine's article here.

Who’s translating?

Guy Puzey is a lecturer in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and a translator of Norwegian literature. He is from Scotland and has been translating since 2006 when he graduated from the University of Edinburgh. Guy says that he ‘likes translating books about waffles and people who know how to sk’. His translations appear in Quest

You can read Guy’s British Council article about learning Norwegian as a Brit and watch a video of Guy Puzey, Ævar Þór Benediktsson and Katherine Rundell in conversation with Daniel Hahn at this year’s London Book Fair.

Anne Bruce lives on the Isle of Arran in Scotland and has a long-standing love of all things Scandinavian. She studied Norwegian and English at the University of Glasgow. She has translated Wencke Mühleisen’s Should Have Lifted You Carefully Over, Jørn Lier Horst’s Dregs, Anne Holt’s Blessed Are Those Who Thirst, and Days in the History of Silence by Merethe Lindstrøm. Anne’s translations appear in the Odyssey anthology. You can read an excerpt from Anne’s translation of Merethe Lindstrøm’s Days in the History of Silence.

Want to delve deeper into translation to and from the Nordic languages? 

Read Christine de Luca’s British Council article about Shetlandic, Nicholas Lawrence’s article about the Swedish language and find out from Penelope Roux of Finnbrit how learning Finnish is "notoriously challenging"

Illustrations of a bicycle, a girl in a poncho and a boy in the sky.
The Dokk1 at Aarhus will host the first International Children’s Literature Festival in Denmark. Image (C) Dokk1.

About Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017

Throughout 2017, the Danish city of Aarhus and the 18 other municipalities in the Central Denmark Region will celebrate a year as European Capital of Culture. This is one of the most prestigious and prominent cultural events in Europe. Every year, two EU countries are appointed as host countries for the European Capital of Culture. Pafos in Cyprus is also a European Capital of Culture 2017.

In 1996, Copenhagen became the first Danish city to host the European Capital of Culture, and it will be many years before a Danish city can boast the title again. Aarhus 2017 is based on strong mutual cooperation across the entire region. The central theme of the year, "Let’s Rethink", explores the history of DNA throughout the year, asking important questions about what is kept and what is let go as we move into the future.

Many cultural partnerships and collaborations will evolve from the celebrations, which touch on every aspect of Danish culture, from contemporary architecture to pageants of the country’s Viking past. Danish and other European masterpieces will be reworked, new icons will be invented and prototypes and experiments can all be expected from this exciting, creative year of culture.

Featured British artists at Aarhus

Below you will find profiles of a selection of featured British artists who form part of the year-long European Capital of Culture events and activities.


Wayne McGregor was born in Stockport in 1970 and studied dance at the University of Leeds and the José Limón School in New York. In 1992 he founded Random Dance (now Company Wayne McGregor) and in 2006 he became Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet. His works for the The Royal Ballet include Multiverse, Woolf Works, Raven Girl, Carbon Life, Infra and Chroma.

McGregor’s interest in cross-discipline collaboration has produced critically acclaimed work that brings together dance, film, music, visual art, technology and science. McGregor is regularly commissioned by and has works in the repertories of the most important ballet companies around the world, including Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. He has directed movement for theatre, film and music videos, including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the Grammy-nominated Lotus Flower for Radiohead.

Wayne McGregor has won numerous prizes for his work, including two Olivier Awards, and was awarded a CBE for Services to Dance in 2011. Speaking to The Stage about his creative process, he referred to his creations not as a series of individual works, but as a continuous process, stating that each piece was a ‘key frame’ in something larger.



Nathan Coley is one of Scotland’s best-known artists. For the duration of 2017 Coley has devised ten temporary illuminated text works known as ‘fairy light attractions’ that will be shown at a number of key locations across Jutland. The artworks will be mounted on scaffolding and consist of the kind of small, flashing crystal lights we know from the theme parks. The title, THE SAME FOR EVERYONE, brings attention to one of the most treasured of Danish values, namely 'equality for all'.

Find out more about Nathan Coley's work on the Aarhus 2017 website.


I wanted to visit places that in one way or another identified themselves with communities. The works need a response from their audience. (Nathan Coley)


Nathan Coley, born in 1967 in Glasgow, Scotland, is a contemporary artist, who in 2007 was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize. He studied art at the Glasgow School of Art between 1985 and 1989 and works and lives in Glasgow. His works have been exhibited at numerous prestigious international exhibitions and museums: The 19th Sydney Biennale 2014; The Theatre of the World, Museo Tamayo, Mexico; The 13th Istanbul Biennale 2013; Bergen Kunsthal, Bergen, Norway; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; GENERATION, Royal Academy of Art, Edinburgh and Westfälischer Kunstverein, Munster, Germany.

Nathan Coley official website


Anohni is the Aarhus 2017 Artist-in-Residence. During her residency, Anohni will record with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, develop new work in mixed media, present several exhibitions as a visual artist and collaborator in venues across the city, and perform for one night only in a unique live concert at the Musikhuset Aarhus on the 18th November 2017. 

I deeply hope that Scandinavian countries will continue to uphold their models of socialism as prototypes for the rest of the world. We can’t afford for anxiety to erode Denmark’s noble conviction that socialist values are core human values. (Anohni)

Find out more information about Anohni's work on the official Aarhus 2017 website.


Born in England and living in NYC, Anohni first gained international prominence upon winning the UK’s Mercury prize in 2005 for her album 'I Am a Bird Now' with her band Antony and the Johnsons. Anohni's unique voice led to performances with symphonies around the world, collaborations with artists including Lou Reed, Charles Atlas, Marina Abramovic and Bjork, and exhibitions in select museums and at Sikkema Jenkins gallery in NYC. In 216 Anohni was nominated for an Oscar for her contribution to the song 'Manta Ray', an address to the world’s dying coral reefs. Her latest album HOPELESSNESS is a collaboration with Hudson Mohawke and OPN, and uses dance music to explore themes of ecocide, drone warfare and global virulence.

Anohni official website


Presented by Blast Theory,  2097: We Made Ourselves Over is an Aarhus 2017 commission in collaboration with Hull, UK City of Culture 2017. The ground breaking theatrical group will use the year to create a work that expands experience through use of technology, social media platforms and audience interaction. The audience will be taken on an unexpected journey in the imaginatively crafted spaces of an unknown city in the year 2097 - a blended place merging Aarhus and the UK City of Culture, Hull.

We’ll be working with communities across both Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017 to create a vision of possible futures, culminating in a series of public happenings. (Blast Theory)


Blast Theory, based in Brighton, UK, is renowned internationally as one of the most adventurous artists’ groups using interactive media, creating groundbreaking new forms of performance and interactive art that mixes audiences across the internet, live performance and digital broadcasting. Led by Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj, the group’s work explores the social and political aspects of technology. Drawing on popular culture and games, the work often blurs the boundaries between the real and the fictional.

Blast Theory official website 


Pride, the opposite of humility, is the worst sin among the Seven Deadly Sins, but how would it be portrayed today? The British artist, Rebecca Louise Law, uses real flowers in an exhibition at Skovgaard Museum, Viborg, to investigate. A floral installation reminds us that pride comes before a fall as decaying flowers comment on the passing of time, the definition of beauty, and on the ephemeral and momentary. Her work provokes thoughts about a world increasingly virtual and polluted, with few places left untouched by humans. 

Find out more about the work of Rebecca Louise Law on the official Aarhus 2017 website.

 Absolutely nothing is wasted. It all goes into my archive. (Rebecca Louise Law)


Rebecca Louise Law is an Installation Artist based in East London, specialising in artworks made with natural materials, namely flora. Notable commissions include ‘The Flower Garden Display’d’, (The Garden Museum, London), ‘The Grecian Garden’ (Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens), ‘Outside In’ (Times Square, New York) and ‘The Beauty of Decay’ (Chandran Gallery, San Francisco). Law’s work has also been exhibited by Bo. Lee Gallery, Broadway Studio & Gallery and at sites such as the Royal Academy and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Visit the official Rebecca Louise Law website


Ella Marchment

Ella Marchment is Artistic Director of Helios Collective and Director of Productions at Constella OperaBallet. She is currently part of the Steering Committee for Operatic Mass Actions in Aarhus, Denmark. Having worked on over one hundred opera and theatre productions throughout Europe and produced many events that span opera, ballet, musicals, comedy, club nights and installations, her directing credits are numerous. They include the International Opera Awards at The London Coliseum, Alexander Goehr’s Tryptich at Mariinsky II, an opera–ballet production of Stravinsky’s Renard, and an acclaimed international tour of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s Eight Songs For A Mad King, which was described by Opera Now as one of the best productions worldwide in 2014.

Ella's opera-play, Hathaway was shown at the Copenhagen Opera Festival, and An Evening With Lucian Freud, starring Cressida Bonas, was a sell-out in the West End. Ella is also co-founder of Theatre N16, a company that promotes new plays and opera adaptations. In 2016, she travelled to Denmark having been awarded the Artists International Development Fund by the British Council and Arts Council.

Ella is committed to solving problems regarding opera’s accessibility and is determined to create professional development opportunities for young artists. She particularly enjoys presenting opera with a twist. In 2015 she wrote and directed a play–opera adaptation of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and also set up a series of Opera Club Nights in London. Her ability to think outside the box was recognised in 2015 with Ella becoming the first director to receive an International Opera Awards Foundation bursary. Building on this success, in 2016, International Opera Awards Foundation bursary was awarded to Helios Collective.  

Current and future engagements include directing Operatic Mass Actions at The International Living Theatre Festival in Aarhus,  Mad King Suibhne at Bury Court Opera, and a piece exploring the music of Austen's life at Grange Park Festival in September 2017. 


External links