Sunday, 23 July 2017

The unremembered past (dream of a black submarine) oil, 25 x 20cm

Another painting for the Small Works group show at Beinart Gallery, Brunswick, July-August. Artists have a size restriction but an open brief. The three works I've produced appear to have war themes, which must be a subconscious channeling of current events. It's also fascinating how war and amnesia seem to go hand in hand, as if one cannot exist without the other.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Angels, oil 25 x 20cm
Another work for the upcoming show Small Works at Beinart Gallery, Brunswick.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Another postcard for the Migrations exhibition (see below), folded paper, acrylic, pencil. Pigeon origami design by Ligia Montoya (1920-1967)


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Imagination = hope, pencil on postcard

A drawn postcard, currently in transit for an exhibition called Migrations in September in BIBIANA, the house of art for children in Bratislava, Slovakia. The exhibition will be an installation of 200 to 300 postcards of flying or perching birds, created and mailed by different artists from around the word, and runs parallel to the Bratislava Illustration Biennale.

I always imagined the creature from The Arrival is only a juvenile form of another animal, like a metaphor for the newly arrived migrant who has yet to grow and mature. Perhaps this is what it looks like in some intermediate form, when it's time to leave an immigrant's apartment and find a new place for itself.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Edge of Tomorrow, year 2000 Book Week poster, acyrlic, oil and collage, 1999.


IMAGINE IF ... Illustration exhibition, Canberra

From Monday 10 July through Wednesday 30 August, you can explore the original artworks of many of Australia’s best known picture book illustrators, inlcuding preliminary artwork and manuscripts revealing aspects of creative process. There will also be sessions for children and professional development for teachers, librarians and budding writers and illustrators.

Clive Price Suite, Building 1, University of Canberra
Monday – Friday 10.00am – 2.00pm


Creators on exhibit are Kerry Argent, Graeme Base, Freya Blackwood, Ron Brooks, Neil Curtis, Kylie Dunstan, Vivienne Goodman, Peter Gouldthorpe, Bob Graham, Brian Harrison-Lever, Elizabeth Honey, Patricia Mullins, Narelle Oliver, Matt Ottley, Gregory Rogers, Jane Tanner and myself. 

It's a tradition that CBCA award winning illustrators are asked to create posters for following Book Week celebrations, and much of this artwork, such as my poster for the year 2000 (produced while I was working on 'The Lost Thing') will be shown for the first time. More info about IMAGINE IF here

Monday, 3 July 2017

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre's The Arrival. Photograph by Rebecca Mansell.

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre's adaptation of The Arrival for young audiences continues it's acclaimed run at the Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia, Crawley, now until 15 July. A national tour of VIC, SA, NSW, ACT and QLD to follow, opening at the Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo (VIC) on 11 August. Visit www.sppt.asn.au for details. Congratulations to the SPPT team for bringing such energy, originality and heart once again to this production... I guess it's over ten years since the show first took to the stage! I recall it slightly preceded the book, given that I worked with director Philip Mitchell based on unpublished drafts, sketches and notes, so not so much an adaptation as a sister project.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Weapon, oil 25 x 20cm

I'm very pleased to be included in the Small Works exhibition at beinArt Gallery in July and August, at Sparta Place in Brunswick (Melbourne). About 60 figurative artists will be represented, where the only brief constraint is that no dimension exceed 25cm. The show opens, free to the public, Saturday, July 29, 6 pm – 9 pm and runs until August 20. More info at beinArt, a gallery you ought to visit at other times too if you have any interest in very well-considered weirdness.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Dark palms, Santa Monica, oil 20 x 15cm, 2012
Several of my small oil paintings can now be seen (and are available for sale) at two places in Fremantle, FOUND at the Fremantle Arts Centre and The Literature Centre (the latter only accessible to the general public on their open days or by appointment).

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sketchbook page, 'some religions only last a single afternoon', pencil & ballpoint pen

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Monday, 22 May 2017

Exhibitions and events


NEVER BE LATE FOR A PARADE: An exhibition of book illustrations by Shaun Tan - on now


16 May - June 15, Parkes Library, Parkes (regional NSW).
This exhibition features a collection of limited edition prints from best-known picture books including The Arrival, The Red Tree, The Lost Thing and the Singing Bones. More about this here: http://artsoutwest.org.au/australian-illustrators-on-exhibit/


LOST THING IN TOWNSVILLE - on now

Currently the terrific exhibition put together by ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) about the development of the short film The Lost Thing, is on show at the Perc Tucker gallery in Townsville, the eleventh and final stop on its national tour. The exhibition will close there on the 2nd July. More about it here.


MELBOURNE WRITERS FESTIVAL - August

I’m appearing in the #mwfschools program this year on a panel, dicussing art and the perils of teenage-hood. It's at ACMI, Monday August 28, goes for about 45 minutes. You can view the general program here mwf.com.au/schools. There is usually a book signing table with other authors after every event so you are welcome to meet me here if even you don't attend the event.


RADIUS - November

Later this year I will have another exhibition of small oil paintings in the artist-run Brunswick gallery Tinning Street Presents. Following on from previous shows 'Little Brunswick' and 'Every Place is the Same Place', this exhibition will feature 100 scenes restricted to landscapes found within a short walking radius of the gallery itself, observing all things which might normally escape notice: lanes, footpaths, clouds, chairs, kitchen sinks, train station pedestrians etc. 

The show runs from November 6 - 26. Tinning Street Presents is located in the middles of Ilhan Lane, close to Anstey Train station, and the intersection of Albion St and Sydney Rd in Brunswick. More info about the show, plus examples, as November approaches.


The Faery Handbag, pencil A4
An older illustration for the Kelly Link collection Pretty Monsters. You can read the story here.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Monday, 3 April 2017

Rocket Clock

Who (among Australian readers) remembers the Play School rocket clock? What a weird and glorious thing it was, first introduced in 1975 with the arrival of colour TV on the ABC's pre-eminent show for pre-schoolers. Ostensibly a way of teaching children to read the time, the highlight was always finding out what mysterious thing would be hidden below the fuselage – an animal? a toy? a household object? – all strangely revolving to a soundtrack worthy of Doctor Who. 

A TV screen shot of the original rocket clock

Recently I was asked to help redesign a new rocket clock, given it's been 50 years of Play School on air, with many various clocks in between: train, flower, hickory-dickory and more. A great privilege given that, born in 1974, the rocket clock became attached to my subconscious, no less so than a vinyl bean-bag to the seat of my tiny corduroy pants. Of course, while its impossible to surpass the iconic original, there's still a chance to hypnotise a new generation of toddlers more used to wide-screen aspect ratios and digital clocks (for which the original might now lack both proportion and currency). 

Initial sketch for a rocket clock with 'sky wheels' and wings

Mine is an homage to the original, retaining its simple cones, cylinders and carnivalesque abstraction – decidedly non-aerodynamic, not really a rocket. I also wanted it to seem like something a kid could easily build themselves out of cardboard and paint. Two new kinetic elements - wings that can open and close, and a turning milky-way behind the rocket, add interest and better fills the widescreen format of digital TV. This wing-and-dial design actually descends from the 'lift balloon' in The Arrival, which distributes new immigrants throughout a city: the wings indicate flight, the dial time.

detail from The Arrival, Lothian Books, 2006


 Paper model of the rocket clock (using foam-core board), about 50cm tall

Digitally coloured model, testing out a red and blue scheme (one of several)

The final clock, courtesy of Play School and the ABC workshop, wings in 'lift-off' half-turn

Where the original rocket clock turned around to reveal a small diorama behind its skirt, this one has sliding doors that open an close. In part, this is because as a kid I always longed for a sense of literal closure in the Play School rocket clock, that the little toys and other objects inside were actually being sent on an adventure in space. Maybe they will one day be found by alien anthropologists, who will marvel over toothbrushes, teddy bears and tea pots, these sacred miracles from the planet we call home.

Many thanks to the ABC and the Play School team for giving me this opportunity to work with them, and for the fine attention to detail in construction and shooting. It's very fulfulling to contribute something back to a program that was such a fixture of my own childhood, and which continues to fascinate my three-year-old daughter, who always wants to know what's under the clock. I hope other parents of my generation will enjoy this too. You can see the rocket clock from April 3 on ABC Kids (22)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Studio floor: waste paint on concrete, walked over hundreds of times: some of my best work.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Albion St blue, oil 20 x 15cm

If you happen to be in or near Ballarat, this weekend is the last chance to catch the exhibition Whisper at The Lost Ones gallery, with fellow painters Harley Manifold and Nick Dridan. If you can't physically visit, you can still peruse the online catalogue (it's probably the last time I will be publicly exhibiting many of these works): http://www.thelostones.com.au/shaun-tan-catalogue

You can also listen to a panel discussion we had at the gallery a couple of weekends ago, here: http://www.thelostones.com.au/podcasts/