Category Archives: Events

ILF Spinifex Writing Camp

My first work with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation

IMG_0624.jpg

Here are Gregg, me, Tina, Cindy and Ann. About to take to the skies.

IMG_1923.JPG

A little way down is a brief write up of my June trip to Tjuntjuntjara. I wrote it for the IBBY newsletter after I got back. Quite a lot has gone on since then, but I’ve not had the time and head space to write blog posts. But it’s time to start catching up before I forget how to blog. So I’m cheating and putting the IBBY story up here to get started. If the style seems a little unlike my usual, it’s because I had to keep it to 400 words so there was no room for shenanigans!

And before we go on, I LOVED my trip to Tjuntjuntjara, but it was scary because:

• I had never participated in a school creative camp before and the team did not have any definite plans beforehand. We were making up the program as we went along, according to the needs of the kids, which were unknown until we got there. So I couldn’t really prepare much beforehand. (Although, in hindsight, I should have had more of a go at this!)

• I am not a confident flier and I had to catch three planes each way, one leg being on a light plane. (I could phrase that better, but I’m quite liking the mental image of myself balancing with one leg on a light plane, the other… who knows where? on an albatross, perhaps.)

• I am not, as yet an experienced public speaker, despite the best of intentions…

• my back is jiggered at the moment so the trip was bound to be uncomfortable.

Here’s my 400 word write up!

In June I travelled with ILF staff Tina and Cindy, and author illustrators Gregg Dreise and Ann James to Tjuntjuntjara, an aboriginal community in WA, 550 km east of Kalgoorlie. There we spent an intense three days working with the students to produce a story and artwork to be published next year.

IMG_1837.jpg

Ten children participated in the writing camp; only two from Tjuntjuntjara School. The rest had driven across the desert with their teachers from other communities, over 200 km away and two were from Firbank Grammar in Melbourne. The children had spent a day getting to know each other before we got there.

IMG_1772.JPG

IMG_1813.jpg

Gregg Dreise, a talented extrovert, performed songs, drew, painted, talked, led story making sessions and taught the kids to paint and throw boomerangs. His modified didgeridoo, the ‘didgeridon’t’, was a happiness generating kid-magnet. Gregg was our Batman Utility Belt. He could do anything.

IMG_2116.JPG

IMG_1842.jpg

IMG_0839.jpg

IMG_1912.JPG

IMG_1847 the didgeridont.jpg

Ann James has a quiet, accessible manner of talking, as though she’s sitting around a kitchen table, even when she’s up in front of a crowd. On the first day Ann deftly demonstrated the art materials that we brought. She encouraged the kids to dive in and try everything before finding their favourite medium, and then supported them in producing a series of illustrations for their writing over the latter two days of the camp.

IMG_0735.JPG

(Note: here she technically IS sitting around a kitchen table. We did all of our art workshops in the kitchen, while Tilly cooked up wonderful, healthy food for students and teachers.)

IMG_0796.JPG

IMG_0039.JPG

I was able to scan some of the first day’s work and whizz them up in PhotoShop with some text to show the students how their work might look on a printed page. Working with the kids one-on-one over the next two days as they revised their writing and worked up their illustrations, I felt so privileged. Some were shy to begin with but we connected very quickly by sharing ideas about their work. It was an intimate and enriching experience and fabulous to witness their stories taking physical form. I can’t wait to see the artwork again after it is professionally scanned, as I’ll be designing the book to be published by the ILF.

IMG_0035.JPG

IMG_6650 one on one

IMG_0818 jonas and jamal.JPG

Here I am being blown away by the two boys’ work. These two were fabulous at drawing characters. They were around the same age as my boys so I was on familiar territory.

Tjuntjuntjara Principal Charlie Klein pulled all the different parts of the day together for the kids, making sense of everything, and memorably making them write for their dinner and their beds at the end of each day on a giant roll of brown paper. We had to do it too on the last day. The kids told us we were cheating if we drew pictures.

IMG_0768.JPG

Ready, set, write!

By the way, if you want to donate to the ILF, go here. They do great work!

More pics, in no particular order

IMG_0809.JPG

Here I am talking about how I illustrate, and Ann is photographing my feet ;-)

IMG_0767.jpg

Here’s Charlie preparing the students to write for their supper.

IMG_1884.JPG

frozen kangaroo tails

IMG_1905.JPGIMG_1908.JPG

IMG_1913.JPG

IMG_6708.JPG

IMG_5744.jpg

Tilly Klein reading one of the many books donated by the ILF on the new reading mat.

IMG_0724.jpg

blobs can be addictive.

IMG_0709.jpg

Teachers and students were all trying out the different art materials. There were many periods of quiet activity, despite the number of people busy in the kitchen.

IMG_0828 jemima.jpg

IMG_0829 Daisy.jpg

IMG_1855.jpg

‘Welcome to Tjuntjuntjara’ song led by Charlie on Ukelele

IMG_0034.JPG

IMG_1637.JPG

IMG_2912.JPGIMG_2950.JPGIMG_2942.jpg

IMG_0012.JPG

IMG_6696 jump.jpg

Bookplates on Exhibition

The Australian Bookplate Award is running its exhibition until the 19 December at Library at The Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands. I haven’t been down to see yet, but it looks as though at least one of our family bookplates will be part of the exhibition, judging from this lovely newspaper article. Click the link below to visit the article.

Under the covers: bookplates offer a window into ‘untold histories’

Robert Littlewood with some of the bookplates included in the exhibition.

Robert Littlewood with some of the bookplates included in the exhibition. Photo: Joe Armao

A Geoffrey Ricardo design.

A Geoffrey Ricardo design. Photo: Joe Armao

A Dianne Fogwell design.

A Dianne Fogwell design. Photo: Joe Armao

A Megan Fisher design.

A Megan Fisher design. Photo: Joe Armao

A Judy Watson design.

A Judy Watson design.  Photo: Joe Armao

A Larissa Macfarlane design.

A Larissa Macfarlane design. Photo: Joe Armao

My husband Scott thinks that bookplates bear a remarkable similarity to wine labels in many respects. I hadn’t thought of that (surprisingly) but had compared them with stamps. I can imagine opening a bottle of Amelia Beecroft Pinot Grigio though, it’s true.

I’m surprised that this biennial award doesn’t attract more entries. It’s a rather fascinating art form and so wonderfully relevant to book illustrators. It seems an especially appealing project for schools to participate in as well. But as I discovered The Australian Bookplate Design Award only this year, perhaps others too will fall in love with bookplates in the near future.

Federation Square drawing and chatting tomorrow (13th June)

I might see you at Federation Square, if you are Melbourne based. Please say hi, if you are in the area. I’d love to see you.

I’m bringing a small number of limited edition prints to sell at the book stall along with signed books.

Below are some prints from the actual book, that will be for sale. And following them you’ll see some altered book prints which show the inspiration for the medium that was used in the book. But they also show the difference between the artificially created cream and the natural vintage book parchment.

My chance to sing lores JudyWatsonArt Ready Set Go lores JudyWatsonArt Thunder imprint page boat lores JudyWatsonArt Thunder opening spread seascape lores JudyWatsonArt

The parchment is naturally a much dirtier colour… which appeals to my inky nature, but the Allen & Unwin book designer Sandra Nobes very rightly recommended a clean cream for the book itself, and this is where PhotoShop was my ally. Thanks Sandra and PhotoShop.

tabby kitten lores JudyWatsonArt Cornish library tick cat lores JudyWatsonArt

Book Signing Phobia

Here’s a lesser known part of the job of being a drawing machine. When we sign books for people, it  is a nice thing for them if the signature comes with a little doodle, drawn for them, right before their very own eyes. And it’s nice to be able to do that for them. It makes us happy too. If it works.

But the inscription is done in pen and can’t be rubbed out or corrected.

And when we draw during the usual course of our day, we usually do many drafts of any illustration before we get it right.

And if we mess up our inscription doodle we have the problem of either sending a deplorable doodle out into the world defacing the otherwise pristine title page of a newly purchased book, or replacing the book with a new one… which we might also mess up.

Now remember that some of us are very temperamental drawing machines, the kind whose engines won’t start unless the key is turned in just the right particular way, may never run very well on a Tuesday, and if the oil runs low we are likely to smoke. You will now realise that the aforementioned anxieties at the back of our minds can cause a little fumble in the fingers; a wobble in the wrist; a twitch in the felt-tip… and then…

Doom!

That is why I am practising my book signatures today.

With Best Fishes

With Best Fishes – practising my book signing today and this is page four. Ahem. 

I have spoken to illustrators who say they won’t do it any more. They will write anything but won’t draw. (And I’m not even going to discuss the issue of spelling difficult names correctly… or easy names for that matter.)

I have spoken to illustrators who say ‘it’s important to make the mark.’

I have watched with awe, some illustrators who sign and doodle with ease.

I have watched with awe, one illustrator who was CLEVER enough to get a rubber stamp made up in advance! (Yes, OtherJude, that was very clever!)

And I have used my bookmark giveaways to circumvent this problem with some success. (It’s much less stressful to draw on a bookmark, than a $25 book.)

photo 1

Anyway, see you at the next book signing!

I’m ready.

I think.

Enjoy your bookmark!

Enjoy your bookmark!

Japanese ceramics in a baroque Italian city

Here’s a wee snippet of my trip before I forget everything!

Unexpected sunshine in Bologna was followed with unexpected cold in souther Italy. Francesco, David, Ann and me.

Unexpected sunshine in Bologna was followed by unexpected cold in southern Italy. Francesco, David, Ann and me.

Francesco - one of our gracious guides in Puglia. Guaranteed to be able to chat to anyone and get you in to see treasures.

Francesco – one of our gracious guides in Puglia. Guaranteed to be able to chat to anyone and get you in to see treasures.

One of the cities we visited in Puglia was the baroque city of Lecce, which features roman ruins and plenty of over-the-top baroque architecture, as well as some hidden artists’ studios, which you may be lucky enough to visit if you have a local tour guide to introduce you.

On our way in to Lecce, we noticed some colourful ceramic fish set to ‘fly’ above the doorway of a little studio on a corner. The door was closed and locked, the interior dim. But when we knocked and waited a few minutes, what treasures were revealed to us!

This cosy and crowded cavern is the studio of a Japanese ceramics artist Nagase Hiroko, who moved to Italy with her husband many years earlier. She speaks Italian, English, Japanese and is currently studying Chinese at night school. She is lively, loquacious and clearly has a love of knowledge and human interaction.

Hiroko alone

Hiroko wraps treasures for us

Hiroko wraps treasures adn chats

Crowded quarters as Ann Haddon and Ann James talk with Hiroko. David (right) takes up a lot of vertical space but not much horizontal space thankfully :-)

I wish I had taken more photos, but I was afraid both of being rude and of knocking things from shelves, laden as I was with backpack and bag. There were five of us visiting and the space was narrow.

spotty ceramic birds

spotty birds, sugar bowls, little heads, in bloomsbury colours. (I feel certain Vanessa Bell would have loved them.)

Nagase Hiroko

Hiroko kept up a constant stream of delightful conversation, some in Italian (with Fran) and some in English for us. Here she is looking for a particular treasure to show us.

I bought several small items as souvenir gifts for friends, but the one thing I wanted to buy for myself was this bird (below) with a blue head and splashy pink back. I was by no means certain it could survive a trip home in a packed suitcase, but the choice was not mine to make. Hiroko would not part with it. She loved it and did not think she could replicate it, due to the the inconsistencies of the making, firing and glazing processes. She has never managed to get those particular shades of colour again, or make the beak just right. Each piece is fired four times, first to bake the clay and then to get different glazes to do different things. I really respect her for this refusal to sell. She said she has sold some of her favourite things in the past and has always regretted it.

my favourite bird

The bird I wanted (rear). Too precious for the artist to part with. On the shelf below are little owls that hoot charmingly when you blow into them. 

If you wish to see Hiroko’s studio while visiting southern Italy, or to contact her, here are her details.

Nagase Hiroko ceramics- frontNagase Hiroko ceramics- backLater I’ll post photos of the papier mâché artist’s studio that we visited on the way out!

Meet me at Federation Square

If anyone is in the vicinity of Melbourne on Sat 13 June, I’ll be drawing at the Books Illustrated stall in Federation Square Book Market and the fabulous Ann Haddon will be selling signed copies of Thunderstorm Dancing by Katrina Germein, illustrated by me. Some of my other books will also be on sale.

drawing and signing at Bologna Children's Book Fair

Drawing and signing at Bologna Children’s Book Fair (In front with the green scarf, the lovely Sonia who has been attending the fair every year since she was a child.) 

Come and say hello. I’d love to meet you! I love people to talk to me when I’m drawing… not sure what I’ll be drawing… but it’ll be something. And I’ll try to bring along some stormy craft sheets for you to take away and use to have some arty fun with your little ones… or by yourself. I’m all for that too.

Sketch for dancing scene with Poppy, from Thunderstorm Dancing by Katrina Germein

Sketch for dancing scene with Poppy, from Thunderstorm Dancing by Katrina Germein

At this stage it looks like I’ll be starting at around 1pm and drawing for a couple of hours, but I’ll try to remember to update you on that a little closer to the time.

Hello from Australia: exhibition catalogue

Here’s the Books Illustrated media release for the Hello from Australia 2015 exhibition catalogue.  I’m really delighted to be included in this exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and looking forward to attending the fair in person at the end of next month!

I’m also lucky to be going in a year when so many other Australian authors and illustrators will be attending.

click the cover to go to the on-line catalogue

click the cover to go to the on-line catalogue

This is the spread that will be exhibited.

This is the spread that will be exhibited.

#HellofromAustralia #thunderstormdancing