About Me

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Hi, welcome to my blog. I'm a writer of poetry, prose and plays but my best known work is children's fiction. My most popular books are the Selby series and the Emily Eyefinger series. This blog is intended as an entertaining collection of thoughts and pictures from here in Australia and from my travels in other parts of the world. I hope you enjoy it. (For more information have a look at my website.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mirror: The Art of Jeannie Baker

Jeannie Baker is the real thing. She's an artist, illustrator, author and film maker of great vision and dedication who over the past four decades has produced a series of wonderful picture books. The reason for this blog post is that those of us in Sydney have the rare opportunity to see the original artwork for Jeannie's book, Mirror.

These days picture book artwork usually begins as drawings or watercolours on paper or, more often, computer files created electronically using a digital art software package such as Corel Draw. In contrast, Jeannie makes meticulous constructions which are then photographed for the books. The books are wonderful but seeing the original artwork, quite literally, adds another dimension.

About her technique Jeannie says: "Where I can I like to use textures from the actual materials portrayed ­ such as bark, feathers, cracked paint, earth, knitted wool, tin so that their natural textures become an integral part of the work. The vegetation used is often natural. Using plants was a problem at first but I have learnt how to preserve them so they last and I add permanent colour."

The exhibition of the Mirror artwork is at the Blacktown Arts Centre till February 2nd. It's been touring Australia for the past two years and this is the end of the road. Don't miss it.

Mirror was published in 2010 won the 2011 Children's Book Council of Australia's Picture Book of the year, among other prizes.

Full credit to Walker Book Australia for tackling such a non-standard book
The book's unique design is really two books in the same cover. Open the cover and there is a book on the left, reading from left to right, and another, that reads from right to left. The wordless stories are of the lives of two families---one in Australia and the other in Morocco---as they go about their days. Turning one page at a time we can follow their parallel lives, one commuting through city traffic by car, the other going to the market on a donkey.

Sorry about my ham-fisted photographs. The works are in acrylic cases and, because of reflections from everywhere, haven't done them justice. Also some of them have lights built in and...well, seeing them in the flesh---and feathers, bark and fur---is the only way to see them.

Jeannie Baker signing a book for a young fan

Donna Rawlins and Jeannie Baker
At the opening of this final exhibition, editor and author Donna Rawlins summed up the unique place that Jeannie Baker's work holds today and why it will for many years to come. Don't miss the exhibition! If you liked the book you'll love the original artwork.

Photographs with permission from Jeannie Baker.