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

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 

Unfinished Business

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this exhibition contains images and names of deceased persons.

Without stories there is silence. 
Without stories told, we are voiceless. 
Without our stories heard , we are invisible. 
This is very hard, when the stories are hard to hear,
difficult to see and impossible to imagine.

Unfinished Business
 reveals the visual stories of 30  Indigenous Australian’s with disabilities, by photographer Belinda Mason and film makers Knierim Brothers.

Belinda Mason’s photographs present some of the untold stories, which are part of the social and cultural fabric of Western Australia, and the nation.

“Every story is complex and intertwined with Australia’s political and social history, which has resulted in today’s unacceptably high rates of disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities….Through their involvement in the project each participant draws much-needed attention to critical issues that impact on their lives. Participants of the exhibition live with a wide range of disability experiences – acquired, congenital, sensory, psychological, intellectual, visible and invisible.”-  Belinda Mason

The exhibition includes a number of photographs of individuals from Western Australian regional areas including Mowanjum, Geraldton, and Carnarvon.

One of the West Australian’s featured is June Oscar, a woman of Bunuba descent. June Oscar is the Grandmother of Hudson who has Feotal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

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The Matriarch, June Oscar. Photograph by Belinda Mason. 

“I am the Grandmother of Hudson. It was not right that our little children were growing up in this environment who are living their lives with unique and complex needs as a result of alcohol exposure in utero. So in 2007 the women got together and made a strong and final decision that we would apply for alcohol restrictions in our community. We want our people to know that, this is their community, that this community cares about them and that we are prepared to make the hard decisions and stand up”

Accessibility is at the heart of this exhibition. People with sensory, cognitive and learning impairments are able to engage with the exhibition through OpenAcessTours a mobile app available for apple and android devices.

The power of this exhibition lies in its ability to evoke empathy,  as Mason explains,

“We cannot argue when someone says ‘I feel…’ – it is not our right. It is part of our own journey to learn empathy rather than compassion. Our reaction exposes us to to ourselves, and reminds us that we all need the ability to listen when someone lays their soul naked in our path”.

Gary Umbagai

The Hanging Tree, Gary Umbagai. Photograph by Belinda Mason

Unfinished Business is on display at the State Library until 3 June 2016. For more information visit our website.

  • Copies of the book of the same name can be purchased from the State Library Shop
  • Parental guidance is advised for young children visiting the exhibition
  • The State Library is a wheelchair accessible venue

Extra! Extra! Adultery, murder, scandal and gossip – more than thirty years of the Truth newspaper

Adultery, murder, scandal and gossip – this was the sort of fare dished up by the Truth newspaper. The Perth edition of the Truth ran from 1903 to 1936, titillating Western Australian audiences for more than thirty years. It also covered less salacious topics such as politics, sport and society news.

Now you can delve into this publication yourself because the Truth newspaper has been made available online.

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Linotype in operation at the Truth newspaper, 1930, State Library of Western Australia, 233089PD

The State Library of Western Australia collects, preserves and makes accessible our state’s documentary heritage and this, of course, includes newspapers. We aim to collect every newspaper published in Western Australia and currently hold close to 1,000 different newspaper titles. Some of these are selected to feed into Trove in the Digitised newspapers and more section.

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Audacious adventuress masquerades as a man – an article which appeared in the Truth newspaper on 29th February 1908, page 8

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Josie Bungalow, brothel in Roe Street, that allegedly lures married men to folly and infidelity, State Library of Western Australia, 048405PD

The Truth is one of our recently added titles, chosen because of its interest as a scandal rag. If you haven’t searched Trove before you are in for a treat! If you have searched before, remember that new titles are being added all the time so it is well worth revisiting.

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Alleged stabbing in Bridgetown divorce. Kidnapped from racecourse – an article which appeared in the Truth newspaper on 27th July 1930, page 16

The State Library also holds the Truth newspaper collection of over 3,000 photographs, some of which you can see here. They include images of weddings; politicians; sportsmen such as jockeys and boxers; police constables and detectives; weapons and scenes of crime and much more.

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Jockey Jack Corry in hospital following an operation on a cist ‘in a place which makes the saddle no cushion’, State Library of Western Australia, 049257PD

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Detectives Lewis and McLernon who effected the arrest of the Pardelup escapee, Playford, State Library of Western Australia, 049172PD

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The wedding of Kevin Sullivan and Kathleen Walsh, 14 January 1931, State Library of Western Australia, 048924PD

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

Behind the Wire: Images and Stories of Vietnam Veterans

This exhibition shares the stories of over 40 veterans, including 12 West Australians through contemporary photographs and interviews by Susan Gordon Brown. 

Behind The Wire: Images and Stories of Vietnam Veterans. Photos: Susan Gordon Brown. 7 August - 27 September 2015

Behind The Wire: Images and Stories of Vietnam Veterans. Photos: Susan Gordon Brown.
7 August – 27 September 2015

Politically and socially, the Vietnam War cut a wide swathe through Australian society and especially through the lives and families of those who served.

The photographs of official war photographers, photojournalists and the personal photographic records of soldiers, provide an important account of this time. Vietnam, with its reputation as the “television war” saw the rise of the assertion of the ‘the public’s right to know’ where debates around the photograph fueled global politics.

Perhaps the most famous personal photographic records are those of soldier Andy Mattay and his Kodak Instamatic documentation of the 7RAR , a photographic collection held by the National War Memorial.

We know all to well that a photo only ever captures part of a story.  Experiences of war and conflict are not limited to the battlefront. So too, the need to document and capture the history of the Vietnam War is ongoing as previously untold stories come to the fore. It is important that the stories both the the war and its aftermath are told.

The American unit that I’d worked with closely gave me a farewell party the day before I flew out of Vietnam. I had tears in my eyes. I didn’t want to go home. In hindsight, the war was a great waste of life and money, but I wouldn’t have missed it for quids. HQ AFV Kevin Graham b.1936 Ammunition Technical Officer Vung Tau September 1968 – March 1969 Photo: Susan Gordon Brown

The American unit that I’d worked with closely gave me a farewell party the day before I flew out of Vietnam. I had tears in my eyes. I didn’t want to go home. In hindsight, the war was a great waste of life and money, but I wouldn’t have missed it for quids.
HQ AFV Kevin Graham b.1936
Ammunition Technical Officer
Vung Tau
September 1968 – March 1969
Photo: Susan Gordon Brown


Behind the Wire
presents the everyday, personal stories of veterans through portraiture and oral history extracts. To quote journalist and writer Alan Attwood, “They have a shared history as Vietnam veterans. But each story, each face, each perspective is different”.

“When you returned to Australia you stepped out of a very surreal environment. The experience there was one of wondering: will I be alive tomorrow? Re-establishing the old values was probably the hardest thing to do. It’s almost as if you were between reality and fantasy” Glenn Darlington b.1946 I Gunner Signalman I Nui Dat I June 1968 – March 1969 Photo: Susan Gordon Brown

“When you returned to Australia you stepped out of a very surreal environment. The experience there was one of wondering: will I be alive tomorrow? Re-establishing the old values was probably the hardest thing to do. It’s almost as if you were between reality and fantasy” Glenn Darlington b.1946 I Gunner Signalman I Nui Dat I June 1968 – March 1969
Photo: Susan Gordon Brown

This is one of the reasons why Susan Gordon Brown’s work through Behind the Wire is significant. It highlights that the history of the war is a living history, very present in the memories of veterans, their families and friends. The oral history excerpts featured in the exhibition capture personal perspectives, unrepresented in official sources or history books. It is important to recognise these stories and equally important to collect and preserve them.

“Maybe it dawned on me – one minute I was flying around in a helicopter doing God knows what; then I was going back to work.” HQ AFV, AATTV John Riley b.1946 Medic Saigon, Baria January 1970 – December 1970

“Maybe it dawned on me – one minute I was flying around in a helicopter doing God knows what; then I was going back to work.”
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John Riley b.1946 Medic Saigon, Baria January 1970 – December 1970, Photo: Susan Gordon Brown

The Library holds many items from World War I within its heritage collections – diaries, letters, and photographs. They belonged to West Australians who served in World War I or who remained here in Western Australia on the home front. Items of this nature are essential to keep these important stories alive for generations to come.

Collection of such material both honours the individuals or organisations concerned, but also provides the building blocks for researchers and historians, both amateur and professional.

The same is true for the history of the Vietnam War. Without material such as that which libraries like the State Library collects – oral, photographic, written – a representative account of the war and its aftermath and the personal experiences of people affected by it will not be available for posterity.

Behind the Wire: Images and Stories of Vietnam Veterans is on display in the ground floor gallery until September 27 2015. For more information visit: www.slwa.wa.gov.au 

  • Information on donating heritage material to the Library’s collection
  • Explore Bill Bunbury’s interview series on the Vietnam war for the radio series‘Within our time’, held within the Library’s collection