works in progress

Tony Flowers and Danielle Wood

Tony Flowers, an illustrator based in Tasmania, is currently making two books for Happily Ever After. The first is a wonderful contraption, properly titled a zoetrope, driven by a little electric motor. Curious to know what a zoetrope is? A quick Google search will reveal all: a 19th-century optical toy consisting of a cylinder with a series of pictures on the inner surface that, when viewed through slits with the cylinder rotating, give an impression of continuous motion.

Tony's other book is being produced in collaboration with Danielle Wood, a Tasmanian writer whose first novel, The Alphabet of Light and Dark, won The Australian/Vogel Literary Award. Danielle is writing a new version of the Japanese fairy tale Peach Boy, or Momotaro, a story about a heavenly boywho came to earth in a giant peach, was adopted by elderly parents, and eventually travelled to a distant island to fight a gang of demons. En route, Momotaro befriended a talking pheasant, monkey and dog who helped him with his quest. 

Tallulah Cunningham and Rick Kellum

Another interesting collaboration, this time between creative people living on opposite sides of the world.  Newcastle based artist Tallulah Cunningham and London based writer Rick Kellum are working on an illuminated manuscript featuring extracts from Rick's short story Aiken and the Dream Islands. Here's some pictures from Tallulah's studio:

Andrew Finnie

Newcastle based illustrator Andrew Finnie is currently working on a book that explores the Hansel and Gretel narrative from the witch's perspective.  'It has always fascinated me', writes Andrew, 'how no-one
expresses sympathy for the 'witch'. And so I have addressed the narrative with a 'what if' approach...' 
'What if the story were set in the middle of an Australian forest? What if Gretel and the witch joined forces against Hansel? What if the witch were really just an old woman? What if the witch, and not the children, was the true victim of the story?' Andrew's artwork will take the form of a Japanese folding book. At the time of writing, the book was fifty pages long and unfolds to a length of over fifteen metres. 'I am obsessed with making images', notes the artist, 'I do this seven days a week, for a minimum of three hours and a maximum of eighteen hours a day'. 

'Usually these images are dark and unsettling - just how I like them to be. That's why I have been drawn to traditional "unchristianised" folk tales. Illustrating traditional folk tales and 'fairy' tales lets me tap into Jungian archetypes and archetypal emotions that have permeated mankind's subconsciousness since he/she began to think. Often modern man feels above these emotions. He forgets that his modern apartment is still a cave, and that when the electrical lights are off, the night is full of strange creatures'. 
Here are some of Andrew's strange, beautiful, dark images:

Pamela See

Like many artists involved in Happily Ever After, Pamela See’s ideas have shifted remarkably from the initial expression of interest phase. At the start of the project, Pamela thought about making a book with sections that folded and unfolded, hiding and revealing imagery, an object very close to a child’s ‘peek a boo’ game. Conceptually, she wanted to explore the tension between a woman’s anticipated domestic role and her actual role.
After a few trial and errors, she decided to return to her dominant mode of artmaking, which is intricate paper cutting. She is currently playing with the idea of projecting these paper cuts, but is having difficulty finding her preferred projection device: an old fashioned machine called a filmstrip viewer (we've included an image of the elusive beast!) Pamela’s current imagery explores the immigrant experience from both sides of the fence; the ‘fairytale’ dreams of a migrant, hoping for a land of opportunity, a euphoric degree of expectation; and the fear and xenophobia that often greets their arrival. Images of children playing, and people enjoying a suburban existence (a BBQ, the everyday pleasure of walking a dog) are juxtaposed with threatening waves of form, shapes very similar to oil slicks.

Lorelei Clark
'My particular interest', writes Lorelei Clark, 'lies in the convergence of image and text. I generally explore this by appropriating imagery from pop culture remnants such as magazines, advertising, film, books and food packaging. This kind of multifaceted visual language offers a freedom and flexibility which enables me to pose questions, rather than deliver answers'. 

'Drawing on my own experiences, I peel away and rebuild surface details to explore the shifting boundaries and definitions of what it means to be human in the 21st century: love, tradition versus modernity, sense, experience, comprehension  and meaning, essence of the soul, imagination, gender, morality, boundaries of the human body and new technology. This process is about using current views of the world to visualise and represent feasible ways of being for the future'.
Lorelei Clark 'your patience will be rewarded'

Lorelei Clark 'I recovered so quickly'
'What I am also really interested in doing is writing more into the process, and putting together the collage pages into a narrative: lyrical, classical, often dark, always poetic and deeply involved with issues of growth, transformation and change. The collages of found images and text, have already been built up over a period of months and scanned, so it's just a question of playing with them in Photoshop and then putting them through Scribus (or Indesign) adding text, and creating a PDF. Then printing, cutting and binding'.

Susan and Michael Hall-Thompson
‘Our work for this exhibition satirizes the genre of romantic fiction. My husband Michael and I have focused on the publishers Harlequin Mills and Boon who have been long term promoters of the modern day fairytale, perpetuating the myth of the perfect ending in male/female relationships.
By printing on kitchen paper towel, romance is placed back into the context of everyday life. Fantasy meets reality. The disposable low-grade material of paper towel also suggests that these books are cheap and easy with a limited shelf life. The stories roll off one after the other and serve the duel purpose of a quick easy read before cleaning up, after which they can be instantly pulped and thrown into the kitchen tidy.
The frightening thing is, that this work represents an idea that is almost marketable'.

Susan Hampton (poet) and Linda Swinfield (artist)
artists' statement:
'Linda Swinfield’s series Too Kind 2011 is born out of reading and listening to the epic poem The Kindly Ones by her cousin Susan Hampton about The Three Furies: goddesses of vengeance from Greek mythology. Linda Swinfield has interpreted storytelling by constructing simple, symbolic objects that sit at an intersection between representation and abstraction'.

'Swinfield uses motifs and traditional iconography; in recent years she has removed extraneous detail and narrative, moving further toward the abstract. In this work she uses the duplicity of representing women through the famous image of The Three Graces as a central shape to represent also the Three Furies and The Harpies discussed in Hampton's poem. In Too Kind Swinfield marries text and image to represent Hampton’s epic work'.

'The work underlines the complexity of roles women perform as mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends on a daily basis, also highlighting that women are capable of vengeance, sensuality, grace, revenge and more. This poem reflects the complex representation and expectation of who we are as women in the 21st century. It simply a mythic story, sourced from ancient Greece, retold with relevance in a contemporary context'.

Sleeve notes: The Kindly Ones
'Here is a journey everyone who is interested in the ethics of modern life should take. Susan Hampton rips into every part of the modern world while ostensibly being part of the ancient.
Mobile phones? The war in Iraq? Ecstasy? She looks at how and why we construct music, scours us into considering how every culture fails children, lays out an argument about the efficacy of vengeance, makes contrapuntal comedy about all the details of being both abroad and at home, and in doing so convinces us that she has seen, in vivid detail, that myths are engines turning within us all. Here are slow jokes, that burn us into laughter and blunt facts that demand a searing compassion. The more I listened, the more I knew, everyone should hear this.
Carol Jenkins

From a review of The Kindly Ones:
‘…a weird satirical travelogue written by one of the Furies…Tired of their work in the underworld, the Furies take a holiday on earth and involve themselves in everyday life, working at a Virgin call centre and watching the news until they are tired of vengeance. It is an extraordinary poem: bold, bitter, intelligent and fantastical.’
Lisa Gorton, Saturday Age, August 2006

Karen Robinson Smith (artist), Pamela Poulson (bookbinder), Caelli Jo Booker (designer) and Helen Hopcroft (writer)

book cover design by Pamela Poulson

We're currently working on a re-telling of the Arabian nights, with the rather flowery title of 1001 nights: being an erotic memoir, and private journal, of the virgin Scheherzade- a gripping tale of love, death,identity, transformation and metamorphosis. Here's the opening paragraph:

'Soon the night will come, and to save my life, I must tell another story. I have found that he likes the midnight tales best: stories from the furnace of my erotic imagination. Since being here I have found that the wellspring of my libido, usually a neat little fountain of desire, has sprung and disgorged a jet of longing so intense that I sometimes fear for my sanity. Like many people in times of crisis, I have taken refuge in fantasy, albeit in my case, erotic fantasy. I have found that the deeper into my mind I journey, the more lost I become, the greater the likelihood that I will live to see another morning'.

illusrations by Karen Robinson Smith