On a scrap of notepaper of paper in 1979, Hairy Maclary was born.
The Lynley Dodd Story exhibition reveals the evolution of Dodd’s creative process and clues to her characters rise to international fame. More than 50 original illustrations including preliminary sketches, drafts and notes showcase the development of Dodd’s unique artistic style and her skillful marriage of words and illustration.
The first drawing of Hairy Maclary has been described as an “animated bottlebrush”. Loose lines give the appearance of movement as he bounces across the page. Hairy Maclary’s scruffy look is made up exclusively of directional lines. He is as much about the spaces between the lines as the lines themselves. The drawing is an unassuming work on a creased piece of scrap paper that captures in entirety Hairy Maclary’s appeal.
Lynley Dodd’s characters emerge in her illustrations like on stage performers. The backgrounds function as props for the action about to take place in the scene. Dodd’s use of truncation adds playfulness and encourages readers to turn the page. Often part of Hairy Maclary disappears at the page edge, building anticipation as he moves off stage.
Dodd’s compositions are meticulously planned in a process which she describes as “Writing the pictures and painting the words”.
Much of her inspiration is drawn from real life. Many of Dodd’s characters are based on childhood pets, and plots are often inspired by almost unbelievable occurrences. The 1984 title Hairy Maclary’s Bone, was inspired by a routine trip to the butcher, where Dodd saw a large dog walking away from the butcher shop with a load of meat and bones hanging from his mouth. How that dog would get home without other dogs looting the lot unfolds in the story.
Each illustration is carefully composed with gouache and pen, Dodd’s medium of choice. Her technical skill is shown by her layering of gouache to create the iridescent quality of the tiles on the meat shop front as seen in Hairy Maclary’s Bone. This technical skill has a sound foundation in her Fine Art training in sculpture.
The Lynley Dodd Story includes illustrations from many works set outside the Hairy Maclary series. A Dragon in a Wagon of 1988 showcases Dodd’s skillful painting and refining of words to create uncluttered verse.
The colour palette of A Dragon in a Wagon marks a departure from the shades of suburbia present in the Hairy Maclary series. The deep blues and cool yellows featured in the illustration ‘A Shark in the Dark’ exemplify this difference. In the story imaginative scenes are tied to the bouncy rhyme and rhythm Dodd is well known for.
Illustrations from Find Me A Tiger (1991), The Dudgeon is Coming (2008) and The Other Ark (2004), highlight the breadth of Dodd’s practice as an illustrator.
Her clever use of scale reinforces meaning and adds humour to her stories. Think about how big Hercules Morse is in comparison to Schnitzel von Krumm! In The Other Ark Sam Jam Balu’s tiny size compared with the enormity of the ark, emphasises the large task ahead of him.