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We've been a little quiet on our blog lately because we have been rather busy launching our very exciting new project, Mary The Pigeon Who Never Gave Up. This year, not only do we have a spectacular Christmas show lined up for you, with hilarity and heart-warminess aplenty BUT we are also making a book! Yes, Quirk are writing, illustrating, editing and publishing a children's book of the Mary story! And we couldn't be more excited!

We have learned so much already on this book making adventure and we will endeavour to write a blog post all about that very soon. But today we wanted to share a little round up of a rather special part of this years project- our community and schools workshops. We have been visiting community groups and schools all over Exeter, running collage arts workshops to create some absolutely stunning illustrations for the story book. We have been just blown away by the talent, enthusiasm and arty skills of everyone we have met and we now have 218 individual illustration assets all ready to go!

Our workshop series saw us visiting Exeter Deaf Academy and Stoke Hill Primary to make a whole heap of brilliant pigeons for our fly pages. The students painted their own collage papers, and then cut them all out and collaged them into a vast array of charismatic, often bonkers and always beautiful, pigeons! These will be the very first thing you see when you open up the book and we can't wait for you to see them all! The children also named their pigeons, in the style of some of the famous pigeons who won the Dickin Medal for Gallantry. So we have "Betty the Unicorn Pigeon", "Figeon", "Harry Styles" and "Jam-Jim" to name but a few!

Participants from Malayalee Association and Exeter Hindu Cultural Centre joined us at Exeter Library to make amazing painted papers and collaged houses which will make up the title pages of the book. We also popped down to St Thomas Library to run a public family collage workshop creating amazing flowers for a colourful page all about pigeon racing. Magic Carpet joined us to create brilliant trees, Refugee Support Devon volunteers made some gorgeous flowers and butterflies and The Pelican Project participants made some eipc shoes for Charlie's leather workshop!

We also had the pleasure of dropping into ISCA Academy's Alliance club, where the students were tasked with creating the fancy pigeons that make up the first double page spread of the story. Pigeons come in a fascinating array of different shapes and sizes and the ISCA students captured these colourful and flamboyant birds perfectly. Here are a few before and afters for you to see quite how wonderfully they turned out!

And if that wasn't all exciting enough, now... we pull it all together into a book! Our very own Rosie Race (who you might have seen performing in The Velveteen Rabbit and Rhia & The Tree of Lights) is illustrating the book this VERY second. And our ever wonderful (and patient and ever so wise) Book Production Manager, Julian Rees, has been digitising all TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN individual collage assets. So very very soon we can start putting it all together! Here is the sneakiest of sneaky peeks at some of the book pages that Rosie is working on.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to thank every single person who has helped us so far. From the community group organisers to the participants themselves, the local councillors who have pledged support and all the venue and library staff, the teachers, assistants and cleaners who have probably been finding little bits of colourful paper for weeks now... THANK YOU!

And if you'd like to support the project, you can do it by pre-ordering the book! It's available to pre order now and you will be the first to receive your copies when it's published in March 2023, ready for World Book Day! Head over to local legends, BookBag, to order your copy!

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