Monday 23 February 2015

Saturday 21 February 2015

Thursday 19 February 2015

New York rooftops, oil 15 x 20cm

A sketch that offered some inspiration for the illustration 'Never drop your jar' in Rules of Summer (below). 

Never drop your jar (detail), from Rules of Summer, oil on canvas, 30 x 34"

And here's a different preliminary sketch for the same thing, with a working title of 'The best fishing is in New York City'. I like this image but the composition did not work well in the context of the final book, which needed to focus more on character action. It's based on a view across from my publisher's office in NYC, using pastel crayon over the top of an A4-sized photograph.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Backlots, oil 20 x 15cm
Some may recognise this streetscape as a background in Rules of Summer; many of the scenes in my illustrations are based on local environments, either directly or indirectly. I used to spend a lot of time travelling about looking for inspiring scenes as a younger painter, but I now find that these can be pretty much anywhere, and usually not so far from the front door.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Monday 16 February 2015

Sunday 15 February 2015

Friday 13 February 2015

Thursday 12 February 2015

Wednesday 11 February 2015

The Rabbits, from Opera to Pitjantjatjara

Promotional image for The Rabbits, Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company

Today sees the premier of a new opera based on The Rabbits (a picture book I created with John Marsden back in 1998) as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. It's a collaboration between Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company, directed by John Sheedy – who also directed a successful stage adaptation of The Red Tree a few years ago – written by Lally Katz and singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke. Large scale sets and characters are designed by Gabriela Tylesova, partly inspired by my illustrations. Like the book, it's a story intended to appeal equally to adults and children, dealing with themes of colonisation and dispossession within a mythical universe of animals. You can learn a little more about this production here: 

Both John Marsden and myself have had little involvement with this production, having granted the creators full freedom to draw inspiration from our book in any way they wish, which is often the best way of approaching the question of adaptation, since it is essentially about creating new work. I'm looking forward to seeing it when it travels to Melbourne later in the year, and in the meantime send my best wishes and appreciation to all the cast and crew. Chookahs!(break a leg!)

At the same time, a rather different adaptation, but one no less significant: a translation of The Rabbits into Pitjantjatjara, a Western Desert language from Central Australia. Although The Rabbits has been translated into several languages internationally, from Spanish to Korean, this is perhaps the first Indigenous translation. Many thanks to the year 9 and 10 students of Wiltja Secondary College in Adelaide, who write:

"We enjoyed your book 'The Rabbits' very much. We wanted Pitjantjatjara kids to be able to understand the story, so we have spent a lot of time translating it into our language. Even though this is a sad story, we hope Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people can understand our history better through this book."

You see their work here:

Monday 9 February 2015

Friday 6 February 2015

Santa Monica 5, oil 20 x 15cm
Third time's the charm. I think this one best captures the spatial relationship of elements in this landscape: highway, beach, buildings, sky, pier and ferris wheel.

Thursday 5 February 2015

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Monday 2 February 2015

Short story in the Griffith Review

Things you see on the job, acrylic & digital, 2014

'Crocodiles Live On The 87th Floor', a short story (ie. two pages, as I often like to keep them) is included in the Griffith Review's latest edition, Looking West, with a focus on Western Australia, and how its culture has been shaped by isolation and mining booms, among other things. For me it's a place with a very abstracted relationship with nature, and this is partly what my story is about.