Coping with the lockdown

Unlike my hard-working, volunteer colleagues who spent an inordinate amount of time working on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource database during the Covid-19/University of Canberra lockdown, I had an easy time of it. Unable to access the Artwork  Frameworks held at the Centre, I had time on my hands in which to catch up on reading, walking with my wife, watching recorded TV programs, etc. However, it was great to get back into harness once the University library opened on a restricted, then regular, basis. Waiting for me were two parcels of artwork, one from Gaye Chapman and another from Bob Graham.

I had not worked on Gaye Chapman’s artwork previously and found it fascinating for a number of reasons. Apart from her stylised illustrations, the bulk of the artwork related to stories that were published in the NSW School Magazine over the period, 2017 to 2019. The Centre holds almost all copies of the NSW School Magazines dating back to 1916 so it was very helpful to have these reference points on hand. The remainder of this collection consisted of a complete set of the artwork for Three Billy Goats Gruff with text by Margrete Lamond. This was a welcome addition to NCACL’s artwork.

It is always a joy to receive a package of artwork from Bob Graham. This parcel was no exception! It held the preliminary artwork for Bob’s most recent book, Ellie’s Dragon, (we are waiting on the final artwork to come from the publishers in London), a short story called Mole, a longer than usual (53 pages), French language, children’s story called Les Soucis de Sidonie (Sidonie’s Worries) and other pieces yet to be described.

Mole is a story that appeared in a supplement of The Age newspaper in March 2004. The story was originally intended to be a book however Bob modified the story when asked for a short story by The Age. It is the story of a man who is fastidious about his front lawn but finds a mole has made its home there. Angry at the mole, his attitude changes when he almost steps on a baby mole on his front step. It has a happy ending.

Les Soucis de Sidonie is the story of a young mouse who lives in the forest in a nest at the bottom of a tree with her mother. Her father lives in a cupboard under a sink in the city. Sidonie visits her father and brings him back to the forest. Sidonie cannot understand why her parents live apart but the answer from both parents is “C’est la vie!” and her father goes back to the city – not the happiest of endings. The story was written by Mijo Baccaria, the mother of the French publisher. A member of the publishing firm remembered Bob from the days when he wrote and illustrated for Les Belle Histoire and Pomme d’Api and asked that he illustrate the proposed book.

The Artwork Frameworks for the above stories now appear on the NCACL website. And now, back to the rest of Bob’s parcel………………

Max Brown, NCACL Volunteer Art Curator and Connoisseur