Haere rā Peter Gossage

Haere rā to Peter Gossage who died last weekend. His stories and art are familiar to many New Zealanders, and Peter was renowned for retelling the myths of Aotearoa.

His Storylines profile delves into his career:

Peter Gossage has worked as a display artist at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and as a graphic designer and scenic artist at TV2. His first job on leaving school was at an ad agency, and his drawings of Māori motifs on a television commercial drew interest from a publisher. This led to a career retelling and illustrating Māori legends for children.

Cover Cover Cover

His work was striking and unique. We interviewed him back in 2002, and Peter’s advice to aspiring writers was:

Read everything you can. Be simple and plain. Simplicity is the essence of good design.

Picture books as works of art

Mirror image 2
Morocco - courtesy of Walker Books

Picture books are designed to appeal to children, with their colourful illustrations and entertaining text, but every now and again a picture book comes along that fascinates adults as well as children. 

Mirror image 1
Australia - courtesy of Walker Books

Jeannie Baker is one of those authors whose work appeals equally to children and adults.  She has been creating picture books since the early 80s and nearly all of her books have won some award or another.  She uses collage for her artworks, which include scraped and salvaged material, and many of her artworks are part of public art collections and have been exhibited in galleries in London, New York and throughout Australia. 

Jeannie’s latest book is one of the most unique and creative picture books that I’ve ever seen.  Called Mirror, it takes us into the lives of two families: one in Australia and one in Morocco.   The stunning illustrations show the different lifestyles, countries, landscapes and clothing, but also highlight the similarities of the two families.  Jeannie says that the message she is portraying is that, 

We all live to be loved by family and friends and to be a part of a larger family, a community.  Inwardly we are so alike, it could be each other that we see when we look in a mirror. 

What makes Mirror even more amazing is that the book is almost completely wordless so you really have to delve into the illustrations to help tell the story.  The book is made up of two separate sections so that you can read both stories, Australia and Morocco, at the same time. Mirror is the sort of book that you want to frame and put on your wall so that you can look at the stunning illustrations every day.  Grab a copy from the library and prepare to be blown away.