Thursday, 19 October 2017

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

RADIUS: Tinning Street Presents, November 6-26

Blue duct, oil on board, 15 x 20cm

Radius presents over 100 small oil paintings of objects and scenes found within a short walking distance of the gallery in which they are exhibited, radiating out from a small laneway in Brunswick, Melbourne: dumpsters, tram passengers, kitchen sinks, boom gates and so on. The most ordinary things and the weather and light that describe them are beautiful and mysterious, but it is hard to realise this unless we are compelled to stop and study them beyond a passing glance. Visitors are invited to look at the paintings, then take a short walk to consider again the fascinating shapes, forms and colours of their immediate radius.  

An online catalogue will be available soon, and I'll continue regularly posting paintings from this show here. Fore more info:

Monday, 16 October 2017

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Rummaging though some old stuff I came across this drawing from about 15 years ago, one of the first test pieces for The Arrival which I'd forgotten about. At this time, long before the book was published or even fully sketched out, the drawing style was reminiscent of Raymond Briggs (The Snowman, When the Wind Blows), who has always had a big influence on my picture book work. The 'reptiles' I later felt were too defined here - better that we don't see their heads or too much other detail, lest they become overly literal in the imagination. So the style and realisation here is not right, but the basic image of the family walking down a street with something dark migrating across the sky was one of two or three key images that seeded the rest of the story.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Spare Parts Theatre Rules of Summer. Puppeteers Allan Girod and Nick Pages-Oliver. Picture: Simon Santi The West Australian

Congrats to the cast and crew of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre's adaptation of Rules of Summer, which is currently playing at the Dolphin Theatre, UWA (Perth). The show is a wonderful mix of characters, objects and dreamlike situations extrapolated in a very innovative way from the book, actually less an adaptation than a reinvention of parts. And many of those parts bursting from the stage into the audience and occupying the entire threatre space: bubbles, snails, wind, recalcitrant socks. I always imagined this would be a terrific book to recreate theatrically simply because it is so open-ended and 'unwritten', and SPPT have picked up those threads with their trademark originality and insight. Excellent performances full of humour and pathos, and wonderful to see kids totally buying into this universe and raising a ruckus! Rules of Summer  runs until October 8.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Desert Storyteller, pastel on paper

Today (or rather yesterday, I'm a bit late with this post) is Indigenous Literacy Day, a celebraton that aims to raise money for excellent programs to promote reading and distribute quality books to Indigenous communities across Australia. Please join me in making a donation to @TheIndigenousLiteracyFoundation today to support young and keen readers in remote Australia. #ILD2017”

Monday, 21 August 2017


Ghibli! pastel and pencil, 50 x 70cm

As part of the month-long Celebrate Studio Ghibli, I've been invited to create a special poster for the event by both Madman Entertainment (the Australian distributor with whom I worked on The Lost Thing) and Studio Ghibli in Japan. The brief: create anything you like in the spirit of the studio's films, but in your own style. Too much inspiration to choose from! Well, if I have to choose, I've always been fascinated by character Kamaji, who stokes the bath house boiler in Spirited Away: I imagined he would be the ideal multi-tasking projector operator in a Ghibli universe, assisted of course by a young girl – a favoured protagonist of so many Ghibli films – and a few hundred archivist soots. 

I also love the working drawings of Ghibli studio artists, from concept art to loose storyboards, and how the liveliness of hand-rendering lies at the heart of so much Ghibli animation, and so wished to pay tribute to this craft in my own way, keeping the image fresh and sketchy.

CELEBRATE STUDIO GHIBLI is a month-long event that will show screenings across cinemas in Australia and New Zealand, from August 24th to September 20th, 2017, and I will be briefly introducing one of my all-time favourites Totoro at the opening night in Melbourne. A rare opportunity to see all the studio's work on the big screen.

For more info, and also how to acquire a poster, visit Madman's site,

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The unremembered past (dream of a black submarine) oil, 25 x 20cm

Another painting for the Small Works group show at Beinart Gallery, Brunswick, July-August. Artists have a size restriction but an open brief. The three works I've produced appear to have war themes, which must be a subconscious channeling of current events. It's also fascinating how war and amnesia seem to go hand in hand, as if one cannot exist without the other.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Angels, oil 25 x 20cm
Another work for the upcoming show Small Works at Beinart Gallery, Brunswick. The online catalogue is now live:

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Another postcard for the Migrations exhibition (see below), folded paper, acrylic, pencil. Pigeon origami design by Ligia Montoya (1920-1967)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Imagination = hope, pencil on postcard

A drawn postcard, currently in transit for an exhibition called Migrations in September in BIBIANA, the house of art for children in Bratislava, Slovakia. The exhibition will be an installation of 200 to 300 postcards of flying or perching birds, created and mailed by different artists from around the word, and runs parallel to the Bratislava Illustration Biennale.

I always imagined the creature from The Arrival is only a juvenile form of another animal, like a metaphor for the newly arrived migrant who has yet to grow and mature. Perhaps this is what it looks like in some intermediate form, when it's time to leave an immigrant's apartment and find a new place for itself.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Edge of Tomorrow, year 2000 Book Week poster, acyrlic, oil and collage, 1999.

IMAGINE IF ... Illustration exhibition, Canberra

From Monday 10 July through Wednesday 30 August, you can explore the original artworks of many of Australia’s best known picture book illustrators, inlcuding preliminary artwork and manuscripts revealing aspects of creative process. There will also be sessions for children and professional development for teachers, librarians and budding writers and illustrators.

Clive Price Suite, Building 1, University of Canberra
Monday – Friday 10.00am – 2.00pm

Creators on exhibit are Kerry Argent, Graeme Base, Freya Blackwood, Ron Brooks, Neil Curtis, Kylie Dunstan, Vivienne Goodman, Peter Gouldthorpe, Bob Graham, Brian Harrison-Lever, Elizabeth Honey, Patricia Mullins, Narelle Oliver, Matt Ottley, Gregory Rogers, Jane Tanner and myself. 

It's a tradition that CBCA award winning illustrators are asked to create posters for following Book Week celebrations, and much of this artwork, such as my poster for the year 2000 (produced while I was working on 'The Lost Thing') will be shown for the first time. More info about IMAGINE IF here

Monday, 3 July 2017

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre's The Arrival. Photograph by Rebecca Mansell.

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre's adaptation of The Arrival for young audiences continues it's acclaimed run at the Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia, Crawley, now until 15 July. A national tour of VIC, SA, NSW, ACT and QLD to follow, opening at the Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo (VIC) on 11 August. Visit for details. Congratulations to the SPPT team for bringing such energy, originality and heart once again to this production... I guess it's over ten years since the show first took to the stage! I recall it slightly preceded the book, given that I worked with director Philip Mitchell based on unpublished drafts, sketches and notes, so not so much an adaptation as a sister project.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Weapon, oil 25 x 20cm

I'm very pleased to be included in the Small Works exhibition at beinArt Gallery in July and August, at Sparta Place in Brunswick (Melbourne). About 60 figurative artists will be represented, where the only brief constraint is that no dimension exceed 25cm. The show opens, free to the public, Saturday, July 29, 6 pm – 9 pm and runs until August 20. More info at beinArt, a gallery you ought to visit at other times too if you have any interest in very well-considered weirdness.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Dark palms, Santa Monica, oil 20 x 15cm, 2012
Several of my small oil paintings can now be seen (and are available for sale) at two places in Fremantle, FOUND at the Fremantle Arts Centre and The Literature Centre (the latter only accessible to the general public on their open days or by appointment).

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sketchbook page, 'some religions only last a single afternoon', pencil & ballpoint pen

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Monday, 22 May 2017

Exhibitions and events

NEVER BE LATE FOR A PARADE: An exhibition of book illustrations by Shaun Tan - on now

16 May - June 15, Parkes Library, Parkes (regional NSW).
This exhibition features a collection of limited edition prints from best-known picture books including The Arrival, The Red Tree, The Lost Thing and the Singing Bones. More about this here:


Currently the terrific exhibition put together by ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) about the development of the short film The Lost Thing, is on show at the Perc Tucker gallery in Townsville, the eleventh and final stop on its national tour. The exhibition will close there on the 2nd July. More about it here.


I’m appearing in the #mwfschools program this year on a panel, dicussing art and the perils of teenage-hood. It's at ACMI, Monday August 28, goes for about 45 minutes. You can view the general program here There is usually a book signing table with other authors after every event so you are welcome to meet me here if even you don't attend the event.

RADIUS - November

Later this year I will have another exhibition of small oil paintings in the artist-run Brunswick gallery Tinning Street Presents. Following on from previous shows 'Little Brunswick' and 'Every Place is the Same Place', this exhibition will feature 100 scenes restricted to landscapes found within a short walking radius of the gallery itself, observing all things which might normally escape notice: lanes, footpaths, clouds, chairs, kitchen sinks, train station pedestrians etc. 

The show runs from November 6 - 26. Tinning Street Presents is located in the middles of Ilhan Lane, close to Anstey Train station, and the intersection of Albion St and Sydney Rd in Brunswick. More info about the show, plus examples, as November approaches.

The Faery Handbag, pencil A4
An older illustration for the Kelly Link collection Pretty Monsters. You can read the story here.