What’s in a sketchbook?

Sketchbook by Amanda Fernandez, 2014 "WA Museum"

Sketchbook by Amanda Fernandez, 2014 

For centuries sketchbooks, notebooks and diaries have recorded daily life, observations from great explorer expeditions, personal accounts, and intricate details of past lives and times.

Call to mind the journal of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas, or Da Vinci’s curious inquiry into human anatomy in his 16th century sketchbooks. They are forms of storytelling and communication grounded in time and place, and shaped by the personalities and identities of their makers.

The State Library holds the notebooks of Edward T Hardman including an 1871 sketchbook which records his geological survey of the Kimberley region in pictures and words. A vellum bound book of poems written by Irish convict John B O’Reilly,1868 demonstrates his creative pursuit and passion as a poet, while Revel Cooper’s History Book speaks of his education as a 13 year old Aboriginal boy during Australia’s assimilation era. These records provide a rare insight into the culture and concerns of past Western Australia.

What would the diary or sketchbook of a young  person living in the 21st century look like?

Thoughts, musing, observations and vignettes of daily life are revealed in a collection of over fifty sketchbooks produced by young Western Australians. The sketchbooks feature illustration, photographs, poetry and collage, and were created through Propel Youth Arts WA’s Sketchbook Project, part of the KickstART youth festival.

“My sketchbook is my reflection”, writes 23 year old Soolangna Majumdar, “…a month long observation of what’s on my mind. One 60 page long selfie.”

Following an eight month tour throughout WA public libraries from Port Hedland to Manjimup, the sketchbooks have returned to Perth and are on display at the State Library.

One sketchbook by 24 year old artist Amanda Fernandez has caught the eye of our staff with its aesthetic beauty and descriptive watercolour sketches.

How many scenes are familiar to you?

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View Amanda’s sketchbook and many more on display in the Discovery Lounge Ground Floor until 30 January 2015. Open during library hours.

More information:

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Rules of Summer

‘This is what I learned last summer:’, begins Shaun Tan’s latest award winning picture book Rules of Summer.  Be amazed by enigmatic oil paintings from the book on display now at State Library of Western Australia.

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Shaun Tan, Never drop your jar, 2013, Oil on canvas

In a dramatic series of paintings Tan maps the activities of two boys through their memories of last summer. Themes of friendship rivalry and imagination are explored in a series of pictorial contrasts between urban and natural, real and extraordinary, excitement and foreboding, familiar and strange, in both frightening and comforting moments.

Each painting explores a rule skilfully woven together to form a narrative that is open to multiple interpretations.

According to Shaun Tan, “Each picture might be seen as the chapter of an unwritten tale that can only be elaborated in the reader’s imagination”

Discover possibilities beyond the picture frame and journey into an oddly familiar emotive landscape.

The exhibition which features original works curated with pages from the picture book and exclusive video footage is on display at the State Library of Western Australia until January 27. 

When: 19 December 2014 – 27 January 2015
Where: The Gallery, Ground Floor, State Library of Western Australia
Entry: Entry is free. Open during library hours

More information:

  • Family friendly exhibition
  • All venues at the State Library are wheelchair accessible
  • Copies of Rules of Summer are available from the State Library Shop
  • Find out more about State Library Exhibitions 
  • Rules of Summer official website