Writers and Illustrators

Our little aquatic powerhouse hit the shelves today. Vinni! master of the deep...
Writing this book was so much fun. Vinni Versus Bluebottle was the vision of illustrator Shane Von Westernhagen and this is his debut book. So congratulations my clever friend! When I started Vinni, I had no idea that what we were doing was actually not the 'normal' collaborative framework. I always thought illustrators and writers worked closely together but when we started pitching Vinni, there was some hesitation from my agent. What if the publisher liked the text and not the images? What if they liked the images but hated the text? We were basically presenting them with a complete package. Normally, a writer writes and then an illustrator is assigned to interpret the words. We took a different approach. I interpreted Shane's drawings and concept. I like to work visually so this presented so many opportunities for me as the images became prompts for the action. Having said that, I didn't feel shackled to the images, I took them in different places and worked back and forth with Shane as he drew more in response to what I'd written. It was a very fun and valuable way of working. As I write this, I have forty new drawings in my inbox for a new Vinni story. Let the next Vinni adventure begin!


The Useful Daughter

My sixteen year old daughter is not so great at chores but makes up for it in other ways. A few weeks ago I asked her if she would try and make a book trailer for me (The Colour of Trouble). I really had no idea what she'd come up with. She took off around town with a camera and a couple of friends, enlisted a local band she knows and then presented this to me last night.  Super Cute.

The Novice

Last week I had a blast talking about the joy of being a novice at TedxNewy. Great day full of interesting ideas. In my talk I mentioned among other things a work by Wayne Kaustenbaum, Humiliation and was a bit careless not to mention an article that added to my thoughts about the novice with aspects of humiliation and shame (yes they are all connected). If you'd like to know more about this, I first read an article by Sam Twyford-Moore on the Meanjin blog about the book and then I read this and this and this and this. And a stack more. And now I finally have the book.


I'm currently working on an urban art framework for a watery part of Newcastle. It's had me thinking about signs and how we are moved around (or not) in the city. How we are told what we can and can't do and about how much we are told about a site's heritage, previous use or significance. About how much our planners, urban designers and architects are prepared to tell us what happened once upon a time in the olden days. This level of interpretation becomes invisible over time despite its attempts to create some kind of museum out of public space. And I often think what they don't tell us is much more interesting. So this train of thought took a jolly tangent this week when I got close up to this clever nod to the OH&S marker (the most overzealous signage of all). I'm so glad Novocastrian architects have a sense of humour.

Then this gem was brought to my attention courtesy another (anti)sign enthusiast. It's a map of a park placed within a park. Not that unusual, only you can actually see the whole park spread out in front of you. You can see the entry points and the various amenities just by looking fifty metres ahead. It is something both melancholic and maybe a little existential but mostly it is ludicrous.

The Happy House: Three windows and a door

I was reading the article
'new models for affordable sustainable housing' with an invisible ear
and despite all the clean space between words (charcoal gray) and
the shiny image of a house that will never be mine,
My hand moved towards my tea where it did not hesitate
but gently knocked the mug onto the page
and now murky like the harbour, I knew the aesthete would be displeased.

But, it did correct my mood.

The font (Eurostile) disappeared under the tea
along with all those words about a future where promises are
meaningless under the weight of an income held to ransom.

The Happy House nudges the road with cheery confidence
for one so close to mishap.
This is the house I dream of despite the
earnest promise of all those magazines.
Teal blue is a joyful colour but here, care must be taken as the sensory path
of association can lead you to the laundry basket of a surgeon's scrubs.

Take note of the Happy House where no design
was ever critiqued or measured or workshopped.
Just coincidence in the form of three windows and a door.

(image : Trevor Dickinson, Glebe Road 2291)

Judy Cuppaidge : Flower Seeker

In a recent post here I mentioned the particular gifts we enjoy in our garden from the child of an old Woollahra fig to the Daytura taken from a cutting in the New Orleans Botanic garden. It all started with another grand old dame of Australian art and culture.
Meet Judy Cuppaidge. A beautiful tribute here from Wendy Harmer on Hoopla. She has a lovely link to Newcastle (her family and my dear friends) and a full collection of her prints are held in the City Collection. Her daughter, Virginia Cuppaidge is also represented in the Newcastle Region Art Gallery Collection and the University of Newcastle.