Wednesday, May 29, 2019

'Playing with Collage' by Jeannie Baker

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the launch of Jeannie Baker's latest book 'Playing with Collage' at the NSW State Library in Sydney. Jeannie is of course a well-loved author/illustrator of many wonderful books. She is the author and illustrator of 15 wonderful books and has been captivating children, teachers, librarians and parents for over 30 years. And as far as I can tell all of her books are still in print. This is a remarkable endorsement of the enduring quality of her work.

Above: Jeannie's Latest Book

In her latest book 'Playing with Collage', she shares many of her secrets in the beautifully illustrated book. We learn how she uses collage to create the masterpieces that become her books. For Jeannie every page in each of her books is a work of art, that requires her to source and use a diverse array of materials, to create her 3 dimensional works that eventually become the plates for her books.

For Jeannie, collage wasn't something she came to in order to supplement drawing, but was a fascination from the very beginning of her artistic endeavours. In her words: 
'Ever since I made my first picture book, I've always worked in collage.'

She came to use collage in art school when she experimented "... playingwith different shapes, colours and textures together"

She encourages her readers to look around them because collage materials are everywhere. Jeannie loves using natural materials like feathers, grass, earth, metal, even cement. She mixes them together, colours them, cuts them, and 'layers' them.

The book is so very practical, starting with her basic tools, tips on making collage, texture and how to create it, playing with materials, creating a paper collection and playing and experimenting with these elements.

If you have a child aged 4-12 who enjoys experimentation, art and craft, they will love this book.

I first learned about Jeannie's fascination with the materials that she needs for collage, when I heard her talk many years ago about her wonderful book 'Where the Forest Meets the Sea'. She revealed then her love of searching and collecting materials and how in some senses, the collection of materials was almost as important as the making and creating of the collage. It was in fact the beginning of the artistic process. That book involved her going deep into rain forests to collect and dream about the images and the book that one day she might create. 
Above: Part of a page showing just some of the materials you might collect
 This is a wonderful book for any child who enjoys art, story making and creative activities.

Some of her wonderful and highly awarded books include:

'Home in the Sky' (1984) that won many awards, including Highly Commended in the Australian Children’s Book Council Picture Book of the Year Award (1985) and shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal (1985).
'Where the Forest Meets the Sea' (1988) which was an Australian Children’s Book Council Picture Book of the Year Honour Book (1988) and an Honour Book for the International Board of Books (IBBY) for Young People (1990).
'Window' which was Australian Children’s Book Council Picture Book of the Year (1992) and shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal UK (1992).
'The Hidden Forest' (2000) and which won the 'Giverny Award' for Best Science Picture Book USA in 2003.
'Belonging' which was an Australian Picture Book of the Year Honour Book (2005).
'Mirror' which won many awards, including Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year (2011), The English Assoc and the UK Literary Assoc 4-11 Award, Best Children's Illustrated Book (non fiction) (2011), Australian Indie Award, Best Children's Book (2011).
'Circle' Indie Award, Best children’s book 2017, and the Riverby Award for Natural history writing for children (2017).