Yet again the Lovett Gallery is showing a fascinating exhibition. Appealing to children on an illustration and story book level is a phenomenon this gallery has achieved before. But the artistic integrity of the works on display makes the exhibition a very worthy addition for the gallery wanderers out there.
There is much variation in the realm of book illustration which is a lovely way to expose children to artistic difference. In this exhibition titled “ANZAC Illustrated” the assortment is outstanding demonstrating the diversity and integrity of art that children’s picture books reveal. Craig Smith is a much loved illustrator whose pictures are fun with their comic roundness. Smith’s illustrations are the accompaniment for “I was only 19” by Redgum’s John Schumann which is an apt combination of talent. And what a wonderful way to introduce children to these mesmerising lyrics that although not strictly ANZAC, are a powerful testimony to youth and its defencelessness when it comes up against the commanding doctrines of the state.
The working drawings and research behind the scenes is an important part of this exhibition. Being able to flick through a portfolio displaying rough drawings, snippets from newspapers and magazines and brief notes is an example of the depth required to comprehend and effectively communicate pictured responses to a scribe. The working drawings by the artist Greg Holfeld for ANZAC Tale by Ruth Starke show how the pictures are worked up into the final stage drawing. But the highlight for me was the ink and pencil drawings by Brian Simmonds for the book Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer. Quick yet with precise tone and contour these little sketches demonstrate the skill required to illustrate. Another favourite for its atmosphere and enigma was The Poppy by writer and illustrator Andrew Plant. A verdant valley warm and welcoming is shrouded by a menacing sky while a single poppy petal floats in the manipulative dance that is fate. Certainly this picture says it all.
ANZAC Illustrated is a beautiful exhibition for children and indeed adults. It’s pertinent and sad but also reflects the wonderful attributes of artist as illustrator. At Lovett Gallery above Newcastle Library until 2nd May 2015.