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

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

Crash of Rhinos school holiday fun!

Need something to amuse the kids this holidays? Come along and see the lovely illustrations from Patricia Mullins book ‘A Crash of Rhinos!’ at The Place. If you visit between 10am and 2pm during the week there will be a craft activity to enjoy. There’s also an activity book to take away. The exhibition runs until 7 April and the illustrations will change each month.

Kids Day Out at the State Library

Our new area for children and families , The Place, will be launched with a Kids Day Out on Sunday 24 May from 10am – 3pm.

Bring the kids or borrow someone elses for lots of fun – celebrity storytimes, a sneak peek tour of the library with fun on every floor, and original picturebook art to enjoy. 

This area on the mezzanine will be the place for families and children at the Library, and will celebrate stories and showcase some special collections of children’s literature and original illustrations.

You can also find out about famous Australian’s favourite books at the My Favourite Children’s Book display – guess what Kevin Rudd’s favourite children’s book is? How about Rove?? Come along and find out!

For more information, check the website: http://www.slwa.wa.gov.au/whats_on/the_place

The full program will be up soon!