Five minutes with Kylie Howarth

Kylie Howarth is an award winning Western Australian author, illustrator and graphic designer. Original illustrations and draft materials from her most recent picture book 1, 2, Pirate Stew (Five Mile Press) are currently showing in The Story Place Gallery.

We spent some time hearing from Kylie Howarth about the ideas and inspiration behind her work. Here’s what she had to say…

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1, 2, Pirate Stew is all about the power of imagination and the joys of playing in a cardboard box. How do your real life experiences influence your picture book ideas? What role does imagination play?

The kids and I turned the box from our new BBQ into a pirate ship. We painted it together and made anchors, pirate hats and oars. They loved it so much they played in it every day for months… and so the idea for 1, 2, Pirate Stew was born. It eventually fell apart and so did our hot water system, so we used that box to build a rocket. Boxes live long lives around our place. I also cut them up and take them to school visits to do texture rubbings with the students.

Your illustrations for 1, 2, Pirate Stew are unique in that they incorporate painted textures created during backyard art sessions with your children. What encouraged you to do this? How do your children’s artworks inspire you?

I just love children’s paintings. They have an energy I find impossible to replicate. Including them in my book illustrations encourages kids to feel their art is important and that they can make books too. Kids sometimes find highly realistic illustrations intimidating and feel they could never do it themselves. During school and library visits, they love seeing the original finger paintings and potato stamp prints that were used in my books.
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Through digital illustration you have blended hand drawings with painted textures. How has your background and training as a graphic designer influenced your illustrative style?

Being a graphic designer has certainly influenced the colour and composition of my illustrations. In 1, 2, Pirate Stew particularly the use of white space. Many illustrators and designers are afraid of white space but it can be such an effective tool, it allows the book to breathe. The main advantage though is that I have been able to design all my own book covers, select fonts and arrange the text layout.

Sometimes ideas for picture books evolve and change a lot when working with the publisher. Sometimes the ideas don’t change much at all. What was your experience when creating 1, 2, Pirate Stew? Was it similar or different to your previous books Fish Jam and Chip?

I worked with a fabulous editor, Karen Tayleur on all three books. We tweaked the text for Fish Jam and Chip a little to make them sing as best we could. With 1, 2, Pirate Stew however, the text was based on the old nursery rhyme 1, 2, Buckle My Shoe. So there was little room to move as I was constrained to a limited number of syllables and each line had to rhyme. I think we only added one word. I did however further develop the illustrations from my original submission. Initially the character’s faces were a little more stylised so I refined them to be more universal. Creating the mini 3D character model helped me get them looking consistent from different angles throughout the book. I also took many photographs of my boys to sketch from.

1, 2, Pirate Stew – an exhibition is on display at the State Library of Western Australia until 22 June 2017. The exhibition is part of a series showcasing the diverse range of illustrative styles in picture books published by Western Australian authors and illustrators. For more information go to http://www.slwa.wa.gov.au

Local illustration showcase

From digital illustration to watercolor painting and screen-printing, three very different styles of illustration highlight the diversity and originality of picture books published this year. 

In a series of exhibitions, The Story Place Gallery will showcase original artwork by Western Australian illustrators from the picture books 1,2 , Pirate Stew, (Five Mile Press 2017), One Thousand Trees and Colour Me (Fremantle Press 2017).

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7, 8, he took the bait © Kylie Howarth 2017

In 1,2 , Pirate Stew,  Kylie Howarth has used a digital Illustration process to merge her drawings created using water soluble pencils, with background textures painted by her two adventurous children Beau and Jack. Kylie Howarth’s playful illustrations of gentle colours, together with her entertaining rhyming verse, take readers on an imaginative adventure all about the joys of playing in a cardboard box. Illustrations from 1,2, Pirate Stew are on display from 26 May – 22 June.

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Among © Kyle Hughes-Odgers 2017

Kyle Hughes-Odgers’ distinctive illustrations blend geometric shapes, patterns and forms. In his watercolour illustrations for One Thousand Trees, he uses translucent colours and a restricted colour palette to explore the relationship between humankind and the environment. Shades of green browns and grey blues emphasise contrasts between urban and natural scenes. Kyle Hughes-Odgers places the words of the story within his illustrations to accentuate meaning. One Thousand Trees is on display from 24 June to 23 July.

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If I was red © Moira Court

Moira Court’s bold illustration for the book Colour Me (written by Ezekiel Kwaymullina) were created using a woodcut and screen printing technique. Each final illustration is made from layers of silk screen prints created using hand cut paper stencils and transparent ink. Each screen print was then layered with a patchy, textural woodcut or linoleum print. Colours were  printed one at a time to achieve a transparent effect. The story celebrates the power of each individual colour, as well as the power of their combination. Colour Me is on display from 26 July – 16 August.

Each exhibition in this series is curated especially for children and is accompanied by a story sharing area, self-directed activity, and discussion prompters for families

  • The State Library of Western Australia is a wheel chair accessible venue
  • The exhibitions are located in the The Story Place, a vibrant and accessible area with plenty for children and families to do. Located on the mezzanine floor of the State Library The Story Place hosts regular activities including Baby Rhyme Time, Story Time and Activity Time. For more information go to www.slwa.wa.gov.au 

Through the mirror-glass: Capture of artwork framed in glass.

 

State Library’s collection material that is selected for digitisation comes to the Digitisation team in a variety of forms. This blog describes capture of artwork that is framed and encased within glass.

So let’s see how the item is digitized.

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Two large framed original artworks from the picture book Teacup written by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Matt Ottley posed some significant digitisation challenges.

When artwork from the Heritage collection is framed in glass, the glass acts like a mirror and without great care during the capture process, the glass can reflect whatever is in front of it, meaning that the photographer’s reflection (and the reflection of capture equipment) can obscure the artwork.

This post shows how we avoided this issue during the digitisation of two large framed paintings, Cover illustration for Teacup and also page 4-5 [PWC/255/01 ] and The way the whales called out to each other [PWC/255/09].

Though it is sometimes possible to remove the artwork from its housing, there are occasions when this is not suitable. In this example, the decision was made to not remove the artworks from behind glass as the Conservation staff assessed that it would be best if the works were not disturbed from their original housing.

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The most critical issue was to be in control of the light. Rearranging equipment in the workroom allowed for the artwork to face a black wall, a method used by photographers to eliminate reflections.

 

We used black plastic across the entrance of the workroom to eliminate all unwanted light.

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The next challenge was to set up the camera. For this shoot we used our Hasselblad H3D11 (a 39 mega pixel with excellent colour fidelity).

 

Prior to capture, we gave the glass a good clean with an anti-static cloth. In the images below, you can clearly see the reflection caused by the mirror effect of the glass.

 

Since we don’t have a dedicated photographic studio we needed to be creative when introducing extra light to allow for the capture. Bouncing the light off a large white card prevented direct light from falling on the artwork and reduced a significant number of reflections. We also used a polarizing filter on the camera lens to reduce reflections even further.

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Once every reflection was eliminated and the camera set square to the artwork, we could test colour balance and exposure.

In the image below, you can see that we made the camera look like ‘Ned Kelly’ to ensure any shiny metal from the camera body didn’t reflect in the glass. We used the camera’s computer controlled remote shutter function to further minimise any reflections in front of the glass.

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The preservation file includes technically accurate colour and greyscale patches to allow for colour fidelity and a ruler for accurate scaling in future reproductions.

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The preservation file and a cropped version for access were then ingested into the State Library’s digital repository. The repository allows for current access and future reproductions to be made.

From this post you can see the care and attention that goes into preservation digitisation, ‘Do it right, do it once’ is our motto.

Simpson and his Donkey – an exhibition

Illustrations by Frané Lessac and words by Mark Greenwood share the heroic story of John Simpson Kirkpatrick in the picture book Simpson and his Donkey.  The exhibition is on display at the State Library until  27 April. 

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Unpublished spread 14 for pages 32 – 33
Collection of draft materials for Simpson and his Donkey, PWC/254/18 

The original illustrations, preliminary sketches and draft materials displayed in this exhibition form part of the State Library’s Peter Williams’ collection: a collection of original Australian picture book art.

Known as ‘the man with the donkey’, Simpson was a medic who rescued wounded soldiers at Gallipoli during World War I.

The bravery and sacrifice attributed to Simpson is now considered part of the ‘Anzac legend’. It is the myth and legend of John Simpson that Frané Lessac and Mark Greenwood tell in their book.

Frané Lessac and Mark Greenwood also travelled to Anzac Cove to explore where Simpson and Duffy had worked.  This experience and their research enabled them to layer creative interpretation over historical information and Anzac legend.

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On a moonless April morning, PWC254/6 

Frané Lessac is a Western Australian author-illustrator who has published over forty books for children. Frané speaks at festivals in Australia and overseas, sharing the process of writing and illustrating books. She often illustrates books by , Mark Greenwood, of which Simpson and his Donkey is just one example.

Simpson and his Donkey is published by Walker Books, 2008. The original illustrations are  display in the Story Place Gallery until 27 April 2017.

  • This exhibition is supported by a self-guided trail and educators guide. For school group bookings visit our website.
  • Copies of the book are available for sale from the Discovery Store at the State Library.

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Teacup – One Boy’s Story of Leaving His Homeland

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“Once there was a boy who had to leave home …and find another. In his bag he carried a book, a bottle and a blanket. In his teacup he held some earth from where he used to play”

A musical performance adapted from the picture book Teacup written by Rebecca Young and illustrated Matt Ottley, will premiere at the State Library of Western Australia as part of Fringe Festival. 

Accompanied by musicians from Perth chamber music group Chimera Ensemble, Music Book’s Narrator Danielle Joynt and Lark Chamber Opera’s soprano composer Emma Jayakumar, the presentation of Teacup will be a truly ‘multi-modal’ performance, where the music of Matt Ottley will ‘paint’ the colours, scenery and words into life.

Performance Times:

Fri 27 January 2:30pm
Sat 28 January 10:30am, 1pm and 2:30pm
Sun 29 January 10:30am, 1pm and 2:30pm

  • Suitable for all ages.
  • Bookings not required

Matt Ottley’s original paintings from the picture book Teacup from part of the State Library’s Peter Williams collection of original picture book art. The artworks will be displayed in  Teacup – an exhibition in the ground floor gallery between 20 January – 24 March 2017.

Image credit: Cover illustration for Teacup, Matt Ottley, 2015. State Library of Western Australia, PWC/255/01  Reproduced in the book Teacup written by Rebecca Young with illustrations by Matt Ottley. Published by Scholastic, 2015.

This event is supported by the City of Perth 

A Sausage Went for a Walk One Day

Can cats fly? 
Can a goat be a superhero?
Can a sausage go for a walk? 

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Peter Kendall, Out of the gate marched breakfast,  reproduced in A Sausage Went for a Walk by Ellisha Majid and Peter Kendall, 1991. Published by Fremantle Press. 

In picture books anything is possible, just as anything is possible in the imagination of a child.  The power of picture books to ignite imagination is highlighted in our current exhibition,  A Sausage Went for a Walk One Day – celebrating Western Australian picture books and 40 fabulous years of Fremantle Press

Beginning with the award winning,  A Sausage Went for a Walk  (1991) by Ellisha Majid and Peter Kendall, the exhibition includes artwork drawn from the State Library Williams collection of illustrations, as well as artwork loaned from illustrators.

Readers of picture books usually only see the finished product in the form of the published book. The process of book making is revealed in this exhibition through sketches, storyboards, colour experiments, text revisions, and published artwork.  The artworks in the exhibition reveal surprising insights into how picture books are brought to life. This post will explore five of these ideas.

1. A work in progress
Illustrations from Palo Morgan’s book Cat Balloon highlight how stories often change during the process of illustration.  A closer look at sketches show cat balloon depicted with arms outstretched, and  wings attached to his back.  In the published illustration below Cat Balloon is shown pursuing his dream to fly by other means.

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Palo Morgan, To sea in a large silver spoon, reproduced in Cat Balloon by Palo Morgan, 1992. Published by Fremantle Press. State Library of Western Australia collection, PWC/253 

2. From big to small 
Picture books are portable art. They are small enough to be held in little hands. To capture detail of shape and form,  many illustrators choose to work with a larger scale. Moira Court’s, Leaping in single bound for the story My Superhero (written by Chris Owen) is more than four times the size of the published book!

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Moira Court, Leaping in a single bound, reproduced in My Superhero by Chris Owen and Moira Court. Published by Fremantle Press, 2012. State Library of Western Australia collection, PWC/218. 

3. Hints of home 
A picture book can be found and read anywhere in the world, and translated into a variety of different languages and formats.  The picture books featured in A Sausage Went for a Walk One Day have all been published in Western Australia, and embedded within them, are connections to place and the daily lives of their creators.

Street scenes of Fremantle in Sonia Martinez illustrations for The World According to Warren (written by Craig Silvey) might be recognisable to visitors.

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Sonia Martinez, And he was never again distracted whilst on duty, reproduced in The World According to Warren by Craig Silvey and Sonia Martinez. Published by Fremantle Press, 2007. State Library of Western Australia collection, PWC/115

The colours and patterns found in Sally Morgan’s illustration, Beneath the stars we all sleep. are inspired by her close observation of the Western Australian landscape, and the inter-connectedness of humans and the natural environment.

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Sally Morgan, Beneath the stars we all sleep, reproduced in We All Sleep by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan. Published by Fremantle Press, 2016.

4. Universal themes 
Picture books succinctly deal with complex themes and messages with global relevance. These range from cultural diversity, social inclusion, environmental concern, and  the impacts of historical events, particularly war and its aftermath. They communicate about human emotions as varied as joy, to loneliness and grief, and themes of family, friends, belonging, and home. They affirm the importance of the imagination , which has the power to unlock dreams and human potential.

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Michael Thompson, But we love their food, reproduced in The Other Bears by Michael Thompson. Published by Fremantle Press, 2010.

 

5. Medium and the message
Illustrators carefully select a style and technique which compliments the words. Some styles are detailed, while other styles are more spontaneous and free flowing. Each technique has a different effect on the viewer.  The repetition of shapes and the geometric style of Kyle Hughes-Odgers, as seen in On a Small Island and Ten Tiny Things, draws attention to details in line, pattern, and shape. In contrast, Brian Simmonds’s realism in Lighthouse Girl and Light Horse Boy provokes an emotional response.

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Kyle Hughes-Odgers, So many strange buildings, reproduced in On a Small Island by Kyle Hughes-Odgers. Published by Fremantle Press, 2014.  

A Sausage Went for a Walk One Day is presented by Fremantle Press, the State Library of Western Australia and AWESOME Arts. It was launched as part of the 2016 AWESOME Festival and Fremantle Press 40 Year Anniversary celebrations.  It runs until 31 December 2016. For opening hours go to www.slwa.wa.gov.au

  • Curatorial tours on the art of picture books will be conducted on the following days and times: Monday 17 October 12:00pm – 12:45pm, Friday 11 November 1:00pm – 1:45pm, Wednesday 23 November 12:00pm – 12:45pm. For bookings go to slwa.eventbrite.com.au 
  • Books featured in the exhibition are available to purchase from The Discovery Store at the State Library.

A Crash of Rhinos in Wanneroo

With a flamboyance of flamingos, a murder of crows,  a band of gorillas and a parliament of owls, Patricia Mullins A Crash of Rhinos is a picture book which delights the ears and the eyes. Marvel at the original illustrations and sketches currently on display at the Wanneroo Gallery Library and Cultural Centre.

The energetic illustrations and and clever use of collective nouns in A Crash of Rhinos entertains and amuses readers of all ages.  Patricia Mullins unique illustrative style involves collage and layering of coloured tissue paper, with pen and ink drawings, to build up the action in each of her scenes.

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A band of gorillas, 2010, Patricia Mullins, State Library of Western Australia, PWC161 

The exhibition at Wanneroo Gallery marks the first time the complete collection from the book is displayed outside of the State Library of Western Australia.  Acquired in 2011 for the State Library’s collection, it includes original illustrations, preliminary sketches, story boards, and working notes, which provide a unique insight into Patricia Mullins creative process.

One of Patricia Mullins motivations for writing and illustrating is to share her love of language through her stories.

“I’d love them (children) to learn about language through just discovering words, through making up their own words, through understanding that it’s easy and that it can be fun. It’s not about sitting down and learning ‘this is a collective noun’ – it’s about how to use that language…thinking about what language is.” – Patricia Mullins

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A platter of platypuses, 2010, Patricia Mullins, State Library of Western Australia collection, PWC/169 

Patricia Mullins has authored and illustrated a number of picture books including Hattie and Fox (1986), Crocodile Beat (1988), Dinosaur Encore (1992) and Lightening Jack (2012).  A Crash of Rhinos  published by ABC Books by was awarded the Notable Book (Picture Book of the Year) in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, 2011.

Visitors to the exhibition  are invited to take part in a series of free activities and art workshops.

A Crash of Rhinos is on is on display at Wanneroo Gallery Library and Cultural Centre until 12 October 2016. For opening hours and further information visit: wanneroo.wa.gov.au

Maui and The Big Fish

Be amazed by original illustrations from Frané Lessac and Babara Ker Wilson’s story Maui and The Big Fish, on display now at the State Library of Western Australia.

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Frane Lessac, “Front cover illustration Maui and the big fish”, gouache on paper and acrylic, PWC/137, State Library of Western Australia

The illustrations in the exhibition form part of the State Library’s Peter Williams Collection of original artworks by leading Australian illustrators. 

Maui and The Big Fish tells the Polynesian folk tale of “Maui of the Thousand tricks”. Maui dreamed that one day he could go fishing with his brothers, each time he asked his brothers they would make excuses, “Maui is too small. He will never catch a fish”.

How Maui outwitted his brothers to catch the biggest fish in the ocean is part of a New Zealand creation story. Over many thousands of years the fish became part of the landscape and the islands of Maui, Molokai, Kuaii, Hawaii, Oahu and Lanai.

Lessac’s beautifully rendered gauche and acrylic paintings are full of colour and movement.  Words by Babara Ker Wilson introduce young readers to new vocabulary and concepts.

Frané Lessac is an award winning author, illustrator, and painter who lives and works in Western Australia. She has published and collaborated on over 35 books for children including: My Little Island, A is For Australia,  Magic Boomerang, Midnight and Simpson and his Donkey and many more.

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Frane Lessac, “Maui’s mother told her four big sons”, gouache on paper and acrylic, PWC/132 State Library of Western Australia

Maui and The Big Fish will be on display in The Place Gallery until February 29 2016. For more information visit our website.

  • Visit the exhibition during our Books From Your Backyard Family Day on Saturday 16 January to create an illustration with Frane Lessac.
  • Copies of Maui and The Big Fish (Published by Frances Lincoln, 2003) are available to purchase from the State Library shop.

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Do you have a favourite photo of your dog, cat, rabbit or hamster?

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Bring the photo (not the pet) into the State Library of Western Australian on Sunday December 13 between 11am and 1pm and one of three local illustrators will produce a wonderful likeness for you to take home.

Author, artist and illustrator, Wendy Binks; caricaturist, cartoonist and illustrator Joe Filocamo; and caricatures artist and cartoonist Henry Lam will be on site to create a delightful image that you can keep or give away as a present.

While you’re in the Library, say hello to Hairy Maclary, Slinky Malinki, Schnitzel von Krumm, and Scarface Claw, who all feature in the Lynley Dodd Story exhibition.

Dame Lynley Dodd is an internationally renowned author and illustrator from New Zealand.

Her work is synonymous with early literacy development, with the Hairy Maclary and Friends™ series being a highly acclaimed and valued resource, not to mention much-loved by children the world over.

As well as having their own pet illustration to take home, visitors will be able to see these superb original works at close range — some of which have never been exhibited before — to get a real understanding of how an illustrator works and how the text and image are married together to create the charming stories.

Bring your pet picture into the State Library of Western Australia, in the Perth Cultural Centre, on Sunday 13 December between 11am and 1pm and meet the illustrators.

Visit our website for more information

The Lynley Dodd Story

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.

Hairy Maclary's Bone, (c) Lynley Dodd, 1984. Reproduced courtesy of Penguin Random House and the artist.

Hairy Maclary’s Bone (c) Lynley Dodd, 1984. Reproduced courtesy of Penguin Random House and the artist.

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.

A Dragon in a Wagon (c) Lynley Dodd, 1988, Reproduced courtesy of Penguin Random House and the artist.

A Dragon in a Wagon (c) Lynley Dodd, 1988, Reproduced courtesy of Penguin Random House and the artist.

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.

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The Other Ark (c) Lynley Dodd, 2004, Reproduced courtesy of Penguin Random House and the Artist.

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.

The Lynley Dodd Story is on display at the State Library of Western Australia until 27 January 2016. Presented with AWESOME Festival. For more information visit. www.slwa.wa.gov.au 

  • Guided Tour: The Art of Lynley Dodd (40 mins): Tuesday 3 November 3.30pm, free – bookings required 
  • Lynley Dodd books are available to purchase from The State Library Shop.
  • Families can pick up a free self guided tour booklet at the exhibition