|Detail of illustration by Jane Tanner for The 1992 Little Arc Children's Calendar, |
December image - Child reading with Dog and Teddy Bear, published by Allen & Unwin, 1991
I am lucky enough to be living in Launceston which has the excellent Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. Amongst the many gems at the Museum at Inveresk, there is a wonderful touring exhibition called Hooked on Books: Australian children’s picture book illustrations from the collection of Albert Ullin OAM. It will be here till June 17 so there’s plenty of time to get in to see it. It’s been on the Australian circuit for several years but that does not take away any of the delights of seeing it in person. Give yourself lots of time to take it all in. I’ve been several times and have many more planned – I’m lucky enough to live close by and can go in for short periods at a time and therefore can focus only on a few pictures at a time.
Over 90 original illustrations are included, spanning publications of the past 30+ years and collected by Albert Ullin, the founding owner of The Little Bookroom in Melbourne. You’ll find a wonderful selection of Australian children’s book illustrators, recognising many of the books and their pages, even though some of them are now out of print and all but unobtainable, but will wonder why others aren’t represented. Tasmania’s Peter Gouldthorpe and Ron Brooks are there. Several John Winch illustrations took my eye because he is a personal favourite. I love the detail and occasional whimsy he gave to his illustrations. The publicity illustration is taken from Jane Tanner’s December illustration for the 1992 Little Ark Children’s Calendar – a wonderful study of child, teddy and dog reading together. Look for an early Jeannie Baker, an unpublished Peter Pavey, May Gibbs, Madeline Winch, Freya Blackwood, Robert Ingpen, Alison Lester, Andrew McLean and many others. Whose your favourite illustrator and why? Which ones do you not recognise but wish you had?
One of the great additions to this touring exhibition is the Please Touch section: a mini Little Bookroom where children are encouraged to read or be read to: a carpet for sitting on, cushions available and the original red chair from Ullin’s shop. The book selection here includes well-known titles featured in the exhibition. There are cabinets which hold not-to-be-touched signed copies of books, some of them showing the quirky dedications.
For more information about the exhibition, see the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery website.