Exhibition Review: Look! The Art of Australian Picture Books Today

I was initially attracted to this exhibition because it is all about drawing and, having so many artists included, I wanted to see the diversity and styles of illustration for children’s books.

A travelling exhibition created by the State Library of Victoria it includes 112 artworks by leading Australian illustrators including Shaun Tan, Graeme Base, Bob Graham, Gregory Rogers, Ann James, Leigh Hobbs, Ron Brooks and Frané Lessac.

Some of the artists I enjoyed are below:

Rebecca Cool illustrated this wonderful book (left) written by Glenda Millard and has gone on to illustrate another of Glenda’s books entitled For All Creatures (below).

I adore the simplicity and clarity of this flat-look painting style.  Her pictures are always full of life, lots of things happening and colour everywhere. What really appeals is the scale of the characters, or perhaps I should say: the disproportional scale.

Diary of a Wombat, written by Jackie French, is the diary entries of a wombat over the period of a week and how he discovers the joys of being a pest to a nearby family.  The story is told from his perspective and is very engaging.

The illustrations, by Bruce Whatley, fit the story incredibly well.

You absolutely cannot help but fall in love with this adorable creature and enjoy following all his antics.

He learns that destroying property is a good way to get attention and he then sets out to train ‘his family’ when to give carrots and when to give oats.

Isobelle Carmody has written many books.  Night School is about a group of children who spend the night in a big old school.  They go on a chilling journey of self-discovery when they decide to play a game, but the school holds a secret they must confront if they are to succeed in their journey.

The illustrations are by Anne Spudvilas.  The story is obviously spooky and frightening and she has captured this in her pictures.

She has created the mood by her consistent use of a very reduced dark colour palette and the indistinct shapes and background patterning.  In one of the pictures she shows the children with a couple of lanterns and the starkness of this lighted area gives the whole place an eerie feeling.

So, three very different approaches to children’s book illustrating, three different types of books, aimed at different age groups and each trying to elicit a different emotion.

Hazelhurst Gallery page: http://tinyurl.com/8a24mlr


About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
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