Five minutes with Kyle Hughes-Odgers

Kyle Hughes –Odgers is a Western Australian artist and author known for his innovative illustrative style and public art.  Dazzling original illustrations from his new book On a Small Island are on display now at the State Library of Western Australia.

We spent some time hearing from Kyle about the inspiration and ideas behind his work. Here’s what he had to say…

Kyle Hughes-Odgers: Photo by Chad Peacock

Kyle Hughes-Odgers in his studio: Photo by Chad Peacock

1. Describe your book making process. Which comes first for you, the narrative, illustration, or the idea?

I had the initial idea for On a Small Island and I could visualise the flow of the artwork and some ideas I wanted to explore. I sketched all the artwork as a story board, then wrote the narrative to work with the images. After this the painting process started. For my next book the narrative has been very clear from the start so I have focused on developing this before starting any artwork. So I don’t seem to have a consistent process when approaching books.

2. You are known for your picture book illustrations and public art. How do you switch between extremes of scale and medium?

I love working across many different scales. I like the challenge of painting buildings and getting to spend time outside but I also love when I have time to be in the studio and work on paintings, drawings and children’s books. The variety keeps me slightly sane and it’s great to change my head space!

3. Your illustrations for On a Small Island include a lot of repetition, geometric shapes, and a variety of textures. How did this style evolve?

Very naturally – I think because I am constantly driven to make new work, the time spent exploring ideas and techniques has helped develop and progress my work to what it is today. I’m sure in another 5 -10 years it will have evolved again.

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On a Small Island exhibition. Photo: State Library of Western Australia

4. You grew up in and currently reside in Perth. Is there anything unique or iconic about the Western Australian environment that influences your work? 

There are many unique and iconic aspects to the Western Australian environment, but I’m not sure it has had a direct influence on my artwork. I’m inspired by many different parts of life

5. Would you describe On a Small Island as more universal or more autobiographical?

I wrote it with a universal reach in mind, but I do connect with it personally. I think the idea of being positive and productive to change your situation is something that most people can connect with.

6. In 2012 you collaborated with author Meg McKinlay to produce the book Ten Tiny Things. What was it like to be both author and illustrator with On a Small Island? How was it different or similar to working on Ten Tiny Things?

The artwork process was fairly similar in terms of planning and creating, the writing process was challenging compared to making artwork for Ten Tiny Things. I’m a very visual person and have never thought of myself as a writer so it was something I was really excited about but also cautious because it is very new ground for me.

7. Where do you find your creativity? Which artists and authors inspire you?

I’m really inspired by nature, creativity, human behavior and life! I draw/paint every single day and I really love it. My favourite illustrator of all time (at the moment) is Charley Harper.

A number of original illustrations from On a Small Island have been included in the State Library of Western Australia’s Children’s Literature Collection. The exhibition is on display in The Place on the Mezzanine floor, State Library of Western Australia and is open until 28 February. For more information visit our website.

On a Small Island exhibition. Photo: State Library of Western Australia

National Family History Week 2013 at the State Library of Western Australia

Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced family history researcher, now is your chance to gain new insights and skills to help you learn more about your ancestors.

National Family History Week

To celebrate National Family History Month (August), the State Library of Western Australia has put together a special program of free workshops, tours and talks from Tuesday 6 to Thursday 8 August 2013.

Are you just starting out on your family tree and need some help with your research? Do you have a shoebox full of photos and letters that you need to sort? Want to learn how you can use apps to enhance your research and save time? Experienced guides and experts will be on hand to help you make the most of the wealth of resources available.

Have a shoebox of records that needs sorting?

Does this look familiar? Learn pointers on how you can start organising your family records and photographs at our special “shoebox” session.

You can also gain deeper insights by attending some of the many fascinating talks and topical sessions on offer. With subjects ranging from British migration, bride ships, Samson House and ANZAC records to collecting in a regional centre, these sessions will appeal to advanced researchers and professionals as well as those with a general interest.

Women on bride ships.

Thousands of young women were brought out to WA in the late 1800s in order to address the imbalance of the sexes in the population. What was it like to be a woman on board a “bride ship”? Find out from Tricia Fairweather on Thursday 8 August.

We encourage you to check out our full events program and pass it on to colleagues, clients, family and friends.

All sessions are free, but bookings are essential. Call 08 9 427 3111 to secure your place for the sessions of your choice.

The State Library wishes to thank staff of the State Records Office and the National Archives of Australia, and the volunteers from the Western Australian Genealogical Society (Inc.) for their generous support.

About National Family History Month

This year, celebrations for National Family History week have been extended to the whole month of August. With chilly temperatures keeping most of us inside this month, it’s the perfect time of year to bunker down in your library and discover new connections to the past.