EXHIBITION: Imagine if…


Shaun Tan (top L) and Anne Spudvila’s (top R) Children’s Book Week artwork plus a tissue paper collage artwork by Patricia Mullins for Ice Flowers (bottom L)

Imagine if… celebrating children’s book illustration in Australia

Each CBCA Book Week has had a theme since 1945 and, since 1987, there has been artwork interpreting that theme developed by the winner of the previous year’s Picture Book of the Year illustrator. This collection of artwork represents the very pinnacle of children’s book illustration in Australia. It is housed at the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature and is being shown for the first time in the current Imagine If… exhibition. The exhibition, at the University of Canberra, will run until August 30 and is open each weekday between 10am and 2pm.

The CBCA Book Week themes and artwork have inspired, challenged and provided the impetus for teachers, librarians and parents to be creative themselves as they interpreted them and then designed wonderful activities culminating in CBCA Book Week each year. Similarly, the curators of Imagine If… were inspired as they revisited the artwork and developed the themes for the exhibition. Their challenge was huge as they pondered how to make a selection from such an amazing and nationally significant collection. You will not be disappointed if you accept their invitation to Imagine If….

As you enter through a mystical arch you will embark on an imaginative journey led by 19 of Australia’s most esteemed children’s book illustrators. If you Escape to Everywhere with Freya Blackwood, take a Book Safari with Matt Ottley, Sail Away with Books and Bob Graham, or go through Doorways with Brian Harrison-Lever your world will be brightened. These and the other 15 artists on exhibition will also remind you of many CBCA Book Weeks past, whether your memory is of sharing the best in Australia’s children’s books with children or as a child yourself, perhaps wondering what to wear to a book character parade. You will be touched on many levels by this exhibition.

Bob Graham’s books have been a part of childhood reading for over 30 years and who wouldn’t love a piece of original Bob Graham artwork hanging in their home? On the 27 August some lucky person will own the whimsical piece he created especially for Imagine If… (pictured right) when the raffle is drawn at the conclusion of the exhibition. This artwork, the very essence of ‘imagine if’, can be viewed on the NCACL website with information about how to buy tickets.

Written by Trish Milne

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