Monday, May 30, 2011

Bernard Caleo, Mike Shuttleworth Brenton McKenna: What It Is?

Another night of intellectual, hilarious and informative talks on the art of comics. Bernard is the generous host who relaxes and charms his guests into pouring forth their knowledge and experience of this art form.

This time he began with a kamishibai story - Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir arguing the value of the comic. Of course I raced into Carlton with Ted Smith's beautifully crafted paper theatre
and you can see for yourself how fabulous it looked surrounded by book shelves. The K is a bit like 'Wally'. Where is it? and where will it next appear?

Following on, Bernard flew Mike Shuttleworth into the room.

In January, Mike travelled to the town of Angouleme which hosts the largest comics festival in the world, to investigate the French scene. His report was a revelation. Mike described a town south of Paris full to bursting with folk from all over the world celebrating the art of comic making. What do we have to do to get our comic book people to Angouleme - a cake stall?

A highlight of the discussion was the surprise appearance of Baru, the 2011 festival president. I managed to get this lovely shot of Mike and Buru deep in conversation. Next year, the president will be Art Spieigelman.

Finally Brenton E McKenna stepped up to the easel. As Brenton drew he told us the story behind his book Ubby's Underdogs. Brenton grew up in Broome but a very different Broome to the one we might visit as tourists. He described the years of work behind his first comic book and the journey he and his publisher Magabala Books embarked upon when neither had ever attempted this type of publication previously.

Learn more about Brenton McKenna
What it is : Readings Carlton June 27: a comic book history of Australia

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre: community open day

To celebrate the opening of the new gallery in Brighton, there was a community open day. The jewel box of a Town Hall, built sometime in the late 1800s on the corner of Wilson and Carpenter Streets has had several lives. I remember when I was very young, it housed the Brighton Library. I can still recall the sound of the linoleum under my school shoes and the smell of polish. In the 70s, the cool guys went to the the Town Hall to see surfing movies.

Today it was full of folk visiting the exhibitions in the two new galleries. In the body of the hall, tables were laid out with paper and paints and children were busy creating their own masterpieces and artists and easels were dotted in the surrounding gardens. There were devonshire teas, musicians and stilt walkers, curator's talks, animation workshops ...

My story space was a perfect corner in the
exhibition: Day Trippers and Holiday Makers: by the Bay 1980 -1920. A fabulous evocative and informative show, the local punters were loving it. Sitting in my story chair is curator Elle Credin looking justifiably proud of a terrific show.

The next person to take to my chair was Dave Evans. Playing the role of wandering minstrel to
perfection, Dave gave the impression of being
here there and everywhere! A quick google of Dave when I came home and I learned he has much to share with us and is a staple in several bands. If you want to savour Dave's talents click here to get started.

Contact Musician Dave Evans:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Torquay Froth and Bubble Literary Festival 18 - 19 June

Counting the sleeps till the Torquay Froth and Bubble Literary Festival.

Winter used to be time for hibernating and dreaming of spring but now, with festivals springing up in Melbourne and surrounds its a time of creativity, fun, intellectual challenges and pursuits.

Claire Saxby and I will be running a workshop for children. Using her beautiful book, There was an Old Sailor as a frame, together we will all create and perform a new literary and tellable masterpiece.

Following on from that, I will give a most informative and entertaining lecture (is there any other way?) Working in the Oral Tradition - Professor Kerin!

Learn more about The Froth and Bubble

click on poster to enlarge

Friday, May 20, 2011

Eastern Regional Libraries cup cake tour

Eastern Regional Libraries is a cluster of 13 libraries and 2 mobiles (libraries that is).

I have just returned from a Cup Cake tour of four of the branches: Ferntree Gully, Ringwood, Yarra Junction and Healesville.

As part of Education Week these libraries hosted special story times for preschool - grade 2. It was my pleasure to be the invited special guest storyteller.

For me, the eastern region is a long road trip across acres of suburbia and kilometres of dual carriageways. Not far as the crow flies but with Melbourne traffic, its a slog up to the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. Too far to travel back and forth, I stayed in Warburton overnight and treated myself to a counter meal at the Alpine Retreat Hotel ... But I digress ...

Rising at 5.30, I watched the sun rise. It was a relief to pull into the Ferntree Gully carpark and breath the cold air coming off the mountain.

The enthusiasm of the librarians for storytelling, their warmth and expertise is inspiring. At every branch the children were greeted with big smiles and treated with cup cakes.

The relationship between the libraries, the schools and families is exemplary. The librarians are without exception, well-informed, thoughtful and professional teams.

Now .. I know four photos of kids and cup cakes does not make for great viewing ... I guess you
really had to be there. But I had a fabulous time and I just want to convey the respect I feel these wonderful people.

We have hearts of gold in our communities.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kamishibai Swap Library is open for trade: put a story in and get a story out!

Those storytellers who practice Kamishibai storytelling will understand the hunger for stories. Picture cards can be purchased off the internet but there are also storytellers creating cards for their own stories just like the Kamishibai artists of old.

I've been working with Derek Carpenter (aka Bo the Clown) from Newcastle in the UK pondering this problem and we have set up Kamishibai Swap Shop on Derek's website.

Here's how it works:
  1. To get a story out you put a story in!
  2. Contact the authors direct. Pics are in Jpeg and Dialogue in Word 2003.
  3. If you don't have a swap you can buy direct from the author.
  4. You can also advertise your swaps on the website for free so long as you have the "rights" to swap.
  5. Swap Shop
Here are some examples of what you will find:

Two Brothers Derek's very first Kamishibai story and very first swap written two days after 9/11. It concerns war and its effects also possibly how Kamishibai started: 10 pics, one used twice. How to

The King with Dusty Feet. Traditional Indian story, how shoes came to be invented. Original pictures.

The Princess and the Pea Hans Christian Anderson original artworkLeonie Kervin . For swap contact: Jackie

The Adventures of Split-Dog.
Split-Dog appears in Australian and Nth American tall stories. There are many tales told about how he split. These adventures cover 4 episodes including the introductory tale.
Contact: Jackie

To participate in this grandly global initiative visit : Library of Swaps

Its a small beginning but the more who participate, the more it will grow.

On this website you can also read more about the history of Kamishibai - information provided by historian Helen Mc Carthy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Yarra Ranges Regional Museum opens its doors to the public 14 May 2011

After years of planning (the first serious discussions began in 1992) the newest museum in the country is finally open. Director Maggie Solly and her team have worked tirelessly towards this day. After the welcome to country by Aunty Joy Murphy, the speeches and finally the ribbon cutting, the enthusiastic guests were allowed into the body of the building.

A celebration of local stories, there are over 273
exhibits. The indigenous history is beautifully explored through the stories of Simon Wonga and William Barak and there is an exquisite possum skin cloak made by Vicki Couzens.

The Dame Nellie Melba collection is one of the draw cards to this museum and visitors will not
be disappointed when they see the Melba case -
the woman travelled and dressed in style!

But of course I would be lying if I didn't say that I was there to enjoy the release of my little digital story, Edith's Lyrebird. Commissioned by the museum and made in collaboration with Malcolm McKinnon we have been waiting for months for the film to be available for general viewing. It was a treat to finally see a small audience chuckling away at the antics of 'James'. And I am so proud of the music arranged and performed by my buddies, Greg O'Leary and Michael Stewart from the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club. Now we have had a taste of movie making we would love to make more.

I was struck by one of the labels in the Melba section '... she was the first singer in international standing to broadcast on radio.' Lyrebird James, the star of our little film was the first lyrebird to be broadcast on the radio - a beautiful coincidence.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Williamstown Literary Festival 2011: my highlights

How much fun can one have in 4 days?

This was the 8th Williamstown Literary Festival and I think I have only missed one and for two of them I was on the committee working for the youth program.

The festivities kicked off on the Wednesday and went through till Sunday and with such a stretch, participation had to be woven around work

My involvement began with the Peoples Choice Awards at the Pirates Tavern - an open mic event of poetry and prose. The folk who turned up to read were practised, and skilled wordsmiths, making for a night of excellence. Michael Reynolds hosted the poetry and with his casual and warm personality established a wonderful tone for the evening. The winner for this section was was Lily Chan.

My job was to introduce the prose readers who had to get their stories across in only 3 mins. With careful selection and well rehearsed
readings, the participants held the room.

Matthew Lang with his story about cheese and raisins was the runaway winner of this section.

While the votes were counted I took the opportunity to share the story of the making of the kamishibai by Ted Smith for the oral storytellers in Melbourne. Although an adult night, I demonstrated this storytelling form using The Princess and the Pea as the art work was
created by local artist Leonie Kervin who has recently taken residence in the new Riverside Studios in West Melbourne. So much talent and generosity in our community.

Saturday the Festival began with a smoking ceremony and the relaunching of Yalukit Willam: the first people of Hobsons Bay. Aunty Caroline Briggs and Brendon conducted the cermemony on the lawn in front of the
Williamstown Town Hall. This small publication will soon be available on the council website so at last people can read about the indigenous people who once lived in our area. I can't tell you how thrilled we are that this step has been taken by council. My community grows richer every year.

Friend Claire Saxby hosted a brilliant session with author and illustrator Alison Lester. Claire had researched Alison's work thoroughly and her engaging style had thoughtful questions drew the very best out of this wonderful festival guest.

Another of my favourite sessions included Tanya Ha and Anna Krien. Tanya is a great favourite in our house - wonderful practical advice on living cleaner, greener lives. Anna Spoke about her book Into the Woods, a journalist's account of the environmental issues in Tasmania. I bought a copy and am already half way through reading - informative, poetic, intelligent.

I'm a fan of the Festival and I thank all the volunteers who spent so many hours planning and hosting this enriching program.

This year the Festival website has a fabulous blog. Megan Bourke could be spotted with tapping away on her laptop here there and everywhere. Check out Megan's work, she's terrific: Williamstown Literary Festival Blog


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