Saturday, May 8, 2010

Giggle Worthy

I'm a picture book lover. I read them. I buy them. I borrow them. I love them. So whenever there's a chance to attend a picture book launch, I'm there. Living on the Gold Coast I'm lucky in that I am no more than an hour's drive away from Brisbane, Byron Bay and Mt Tamborine. Even Ipswich is do-able.

And, on Mt Tamborine there is a secret garden hidden behind an art gallery cafe where magical book launches are held. The Marks and Gardner Gallery on Main Western Rd, North Tamborine is a popular weekend destination for me. Not only do they have delicious lunches and coffee, but also a permanent selection of children's book illustrations for sale.

The gallery also holds exhibitions of artworks by some of Australia's award winning illustrators of children's books. And for this reason alone it is worth the drive up the mountain past breathtaking scenery and local wineries. Whenever I need inspiration I go to Marks and Gardner and pour over their collection.

But that is not all.

They also have a well-stocked children's bookshop with many personally signed copies. Last month I went up for the launch of A Giraffe in the Bath by Mem Fox and Olivia Rawson and illustrated by Kerry Argent. Like gold to a picture book devotee, all three talented creators were present for the launch.
A Giraffe in the Bath is a giggle worthy collection of animals in nonsensical situations. As Mem Fox and Olivia Rawson read the story aloud to the crowd of more than three hundred on the lawn one little girl and her brother were squealing with laughter at each and every page. Well, "A giraffe in the bath - now does that make you laugh?"

Kerry Argent talking to the crowd

Mem and Olivia worked on the text together for more than a year and can now no longer remember who wrote what. The words are pared back to the simplest of sentences, which Kerry Argent has taken and interpreted with hilarious watercolour illustrations such as a walrus on the red carpet, "A walrus with a wiggle" and a croc on a skateboard, "A crocodile with style." I am in awe of Kerry's talent and her mastery of the watercolour medium.

Kerry Argent's illustrations from The Giraffe in the Bath are also on exhibition in the gallery for all of May. I could stand and study each one for hours. And the many children at the launch were also entranced by the original artworks and the beautiful use of colour.
So, if you're wondering what to do next weekend, take a drive to the Marks and Gardner Gallery on Mt Tamborine and be entranced by The Giraffe in the Bath exhibition of Kerry Argent's original artworks for sale. You can take them all home if you buy the book. And maybe they still have some signed copies left.

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