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 

In conversation with the J.S. Battye Creative Fellows

How can contemporary art lead to new discoveries about collections and ways of engaging with history?  Nicola Kaye and Stephen Terry will discuss this idea drawing from the experience of creating Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved.

In conversation with the J.S. Battye Creative Fellows
Thursday 27 April, 6pm
State Library Theatre.

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Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved is the culmination of the State Library’s inaugural J.S. Battye Creative Fellowship.  The Creative Fellowship aims to enhance engagement with the Library’s heritage collections and provide new experiences for the public.

Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved
visually questions how history is made, commemorated and forgotten. Through digital art installation, Nicola Kaye and Stephen Terry expose the unobserved and manipulate our perception of the past.  Their work juxtaposes archival and contemporary imagery to create an interactive experience for the visitor where unobserved lives from the archive collide with the contemporary world. The installation is showing at the State Library until 12 May 2017.

For more information visit: http://www.slwa.wa.gov.au

Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved

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Still scene: Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved, 2016, Nicola Kaye, Stephen Terry.

Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved visually questions how history is made, commemorated and forgotten. Through digital art installation, Nicola Kaye and Stephen Terry expose the unobserved and manipulate our perception of the past.  Their work juxtaposes archival and contemporary imagery to create an experience for the visitor where unobserved lives from the archive collide with the contemporary world.

Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved is the culmination of the State Library’s inaugural J.S. Battye Creative Fellowship.  The Creative Fellowship aims to enhance engagement with the Library’s heritage collections and provide new experiences for the public.

Artists floor talk
Thursday 6 April, 6pm
Ground Floor Gallery, State Library of Western Australia.

Nicola Kaye and Stephen Terry walk you through Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved

In conversation with the J.S. Battye Creative Fellows
Thursday 27 April, 6pm
State Library Theatre.

How can contemporary art lead to new discoveries about collections and ways of engaging with history?  Nicola Kaye and Stephen Terry will discuss this idea drawing from the experience of creating Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved.

Tableau Vivant and the Unobserved is showing at the State Library from 4 April – 12 May 2017.
For more information visit: 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.

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 

Final week to see Unfinished Business

The statement ‘without stories there is silence’ powerfully captures the essence of this exhibition.

Unfinished Business brings to focus the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are affected by disability through photographs by Belinda Mason and film by Knierim Brothers.

Historically the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples, and the voices of people with disability have been misrepresented, silenced or excluded from documentary histories.

The images and words of this exhibition convey the reality of lives affected by the ongoing historical, social and political impacts of colonialism. The stories represented in the exhibition are not sugar coated. They are raw and honest, attesting to the strength, resilience and power of all participants, and all people with experiences of disability.

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Yamatji man, Marlon Noble with his photograph titled ‘Noble Cause’, Unfinished Business exhibition launch, State Library of Western Australia 12 May 2016.

Photography is a creative expression which is capable of commanding the viewer’s attention. Each photograph has power to open the eyes of the audience, conveying personal stories in an autobiographical way. We have seen this in action, where visitors stop, take time to experience and are visibly moved by the images.

Accessibility is a the core of this exhibition. The Open Access Tours app provides access to additional audio and video material.

Unfinished Business closes 3 June 2016. For more information visit the State Library website.

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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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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

Five minutes with Sally Watts

Western Australian artist Sally Watts’ paper mache dog sculptures and 2D collages feature in our current exhibition Reigning Cats & Dogs.  

We spent five minutes with Sally and discovered the passion and process behind her work as as an artist and illustrator. Here’s what she had to say…

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Puppies under construction produced as part of Sally Watts workshop held at State Library of Western Australia, 2015.

Pets, particularly dogs are the subject of your paper mache sculptures. What inspired you to create the Paper Puppies series?  

Dogs in particular have always been dear to me but because of a life of postings, first though my father and then my husband, it was quite impossible to have a pet. When we were finally able to stay in Australia we welcomed a tiny, energetic bundle of fur into our family of three: a long-legged Jack Russell named Myrmidon Jack Irish Beau.  Beau for short and that was the only thing small about him. He was larger than life and gave us all much affection and amusement with his antics as well as a few heart stopping moments when he climbed a tree and escaped over the garden fence as a young pup.  Jackies are notorious for wanting to know what is around the corner…and the next one too.  I spent a couple of frantic hours calling his name and waving a chicken wing about until he spotted it across the park and claimed his prize (in his eyes anyway).  He was quick to learn “party tricks” and loved to perform to an adoring audience.  As a youngster he would enjoy basking in the sun and keeping a sharp eye out on proceedings in his garden.  This was done sitting on the roof of his kennel-just like Snoopy the cartoon dog . Walks were high on his To-Do-List and socialising with the neighbourhood dogs in the park was a morning occurrence.  He was a patient model when I wanted to draw him and he even found his way into some of my book illustrations. We were fortunate to share such a long time-17 years-with our little doggie dynamo.  We love him still.

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Sally Watts, puppy preliminary drawing, pen on paper,2015

Many of us have attempted some form of paper mache sculpture, often with mixed results.Your Paper Puppies are smooth sculptures, they almost look like they are made out of clay. How do you achieve this affect?  

The construction of the paper and plaster dogs is unusual in that an internal wire armature is not used. at all. The strength comes from binding tape and the many layers of paper and gesso (containing a high percentage of plaster).  The whole process of producing a dog can take  up to two weeks depending on drying time and the number of layers of paper and plaster.
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Recycling and sustainability are key themes in your works.  Why do you feel this is important?

My dog series has grown from a strong desire to contribute to sustainability but in a quirky way.  A way that others may adopt and utilize in their art practice. Using re-purposed materials (newspaper, cardboard, envelopes, scrap paper and junk mail) to form a lively characterisation of man’s best friend, shares the important message of the versatility and re-usability of materials which are normally discarded.  My eco-friendly sculptures start as disregarded rubbish-household paper waste and then take on a new life.

I like to think by encouraging others to make their own “Man’s Best Friend” I am, in a small way, helping to spotlight the great need to reuse and recycle one of our world’s precious commodities.

Your life of travel has influenced your ‘Letter From Home’ series.  How do you determine which items are included in the collages?  What meaning do these works hold for you?

For my collages I have been collecting text, tickets, maps, illustrations and more from my many homes over many years in many countries. I have always been fascinated and inspired by the mundane printed materials of everyday life in our throw-away society.  Each collage in the series Letters from Home begins with long accumulated found items from “home”, wherever that was, and become a part of a personal jig-saw and a journey down Memory Lane.  I take these pieces of memory and layer them.  This layering and patching of words, letters and colours create their own tensions and harmonies within abstract compositions.  From this manipulation emerges a pattern of recalled personal memory. Some text can be read easily, some is intentionally obscured.  Just as a memory is sometimes sharp and intense and at other times only a fragment will surface to tease.  The items themselves are commonplace and trigger a particular thought for me but the same piece, because of it familiarity, will most certainly evoke a completely different, yet no less powerful, memory for others. I use this imagery to evoke memory, both for myself, of a time and place left behind, and for the viewer.  At the same time these words, pictures and patterns are also an integral part of the overall visual design.  My collages are made with original source material.

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Reigning Cats and Dogs is on in The Place at the State Library until 20 July.
Explore artwork of pets from the Peter Williams Collection of Illustrations, including artworks by Julie Vivas, Leigh Hobbs, Shaun Tan, Jane Tanner, Ron Brooks and more. 
For more information visit: State Library Website