Leanne Barrett: Exhibition: Story Time: Australian Children's Literature

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Exhibition: Story Time: Australian Children's Literature

Last night's opening exhibition crowd deemed the new National Library of Australia exhibition, Story Time: Australian Children's Literature, presented in association with the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature, a huge success. 

They were a buzz with excitement and even squealed with delight as each new story was discovered on the walls and in the display cases. 

I guarantee that book lovers of all ages will adore this new exhibition, as it takes you on a journey down memory lane. 

Remember your childhood favourites; Seven Little Australians, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie,  Mary Poppins and Blinky Bill.

Rediscover books from your children's childhood: Possum Magic, Koala Lou, Animalia, Max, The Hidden Forrest and The Arrival.

Or discover some newer childhood favourites: Where is the Green Sheep?, Dinosaurs Love Cheese and The 65-Story Treehouse.

The exhibition will be open until 9 February 2020 so there will be plenty of time to see the wonderful array of items in Story Time; illustrations, book covers, manuscripts, dummy books, sketches, posters, games, toys and even candles.  There is so much to discover that you will need to visit the exhibition more than once. 

Being an artist and an aspiring illustrator, I gravitate to the preliminary sketches and illustrations created from watercolour, ink, gouache and collage. In exhibitions like Story Time I take the opportunity to immerse myself in how the illustrators create the images;

  • What colours, lines and forms are used?
  • What techniques of can I learn? eg. shading with pencil or watercolour application.
  • How illustrations are placed on the page; singularly or multiple. 
  • Are the gutter, cropping and bleed lines visible on the artwork? 
  • Can you see the under drawing or outlines?
  • How did the characters develop from sketches to illustrations?
  • How are dummy books constructed? (The National Centre for Australian Children's Literature would probably like me to mention how much they hate it when illustrators use non-archival sticky tape)   

Alison Lester  (Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach)
Cropping and bleed lines

Illustrator Pamela Lofts (Koala Lou)
Gutter line and colour selection

 Alison Lester (Sophie Scott Goes South)
Multiple illustrations on a page and colour selection.

Alison Lester
Drafts and sketches

Illustrations by Nina Rycroft
Thumbnails and dummy books.

Bob Graham (Max)
Early mock  up of story with blue pencil outlines.

Illustrator Judy Horacek (Where is the Green Sheep?)
Line and colour details.

Home - Shaun Tan (The Arrival)
Drawing, shading using pencil.

 Study for Lovers of Music - May Gibbs (Gum-Blossom Babies)


Story Time will be the type of exhibition you will want to return to several times to discover little gems of understanding but also for just pure enjoyment. Last night some guests enjoyed the exhibition well into the evening until they sadly realised that their time was up, as the library wanted to close their doors for the night.

For more information about the exhibition see here or Explore Story Time or see the exhibition checklist.
There will be free tours of the exhibition on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends at 10:30am, no bookings required.

Children can participate in the exhibition in the Playtime section, write a story, read a book, or watch a story from the Story Box Library.

The National Library of Australia has organised several more events that are associated with Story Time: Australian Children's Literature.

High Tea with the Curator 27 August 2019 Bookings essential.
Curating Story Time 13 September 2019 Bookings essential.
The Art of Storybook Illustration with Freya Blackwood, Alison Lester and Leigh Hobbs 10 October 2019 Bookings essential.

PLUS! There is an accompanying book for the exhibition written by Dr. Stephanie Owen Reeder, Story Time Stars. Save The Date for the planned book launch on 28 September 2019 at Woden Library, more details to come. Facebook page for Dr Stephanie Owen Reeder Author.

Tania McCartney author and illustrator of Mamie
Stephanie Owen Reeder author of Story Time Stars
Me - book lover and aspiring illustrator

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