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Involving Students

Student Contributions

"Illustrating Australian Stories", by Matilda Fay

Mary Grant Bruce: The Early Tales was both an exciting and challenging process that involved research into style and subject matter.

Mary Grant Bruce is a classic Australian children's writer. I drew inspiration for the style of painting from illustrations in various editions of her Billabong series and her other novels. I also looked at the way that the bush landscape was represented by artists of the time that the two stories were printed in the Melbourne newspaper The Leader. Frederick McCubbin's paintings were particularly useful for their use of natural, earthy colours. They gave me a wide range of ideas about how to paint a landscape that was visually captivating.

For subject matter, I used references such as pictures of houses similar to those described in the stories. I did have one favourite reference: a photograph of Mary Grant Bruce's brother, Patrick, wearing a sailor suit, which was perfect to use as a model for the young boy in one of the stories. It was important to tie the illustrations in with specific moments in the stories. There was one illustration in Mary Grant Bruce's The Happy Traveller that gave me a great model for composition to illustrate an important moment in "Dono's Christmas".

The research process was really interesting, but of course the most enjoyable part was creating the illustrations themselves. After an endless number of sketches and drafts, it felt really great to see the finished products published!

Working on the Juvenilia project opened my eyes to the thorough process of research and editing that takes place in order to publish a book. The other students and I noticed that we were working with text in a way that reached far beyond anything else that we had been involved in at high-school level, which is what made this opportunity so valuable.

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