I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the 2017 Perth Writer’s Festival.

Not only was I to run an ‘Illustration Time’ session, but I was also honoured (jumping up and down squealing) to be the artist painting the 2017 mural!

I was very excited and a little nervous to follow on from previous year’s legendary artists Kyle Hughes-Odgers, James Foley and Sean E Avery.

The brief was to create a mural that kids could contribute to as an activity between sessions. I wanted to extend this brief to create a fun photo opportunity for festival visitors too. One idea was to paint the giant whale’s mouth from my Fish Jam picture book. Kids could have their photo taken standing in front of the mural to look as though they were about to get swallowed up. On second thought I decided the mural should probably give the kids inspiration rather than nightmares. And as kids often mistake my cartoon-style whale for a shark, I decided to go back to the drawing board.

The final concept was inspired by my picture book, Chip. He and his gull friends soar high in the sky performing amazing aerobatic tricks. So I decided to ask Perth kids what they would do if they had wings. During School’s Day and Family Day, I painted the mural as children wrote and drew their responses on paper feathers. The feathers were then pasted up on the mural to create two beautiful big wings. Throughout the festival both Kids and adults seemed to love posing in front of the mural for a photo with the giant pair of wings.

The ideas and creative stories the children came up with were amazing. Each feather a work of art itself. One was even liked by best selling author, Andy Griffiths (on Twitter). By the end of the festival the wings were complete with over seven hundred creative drawings and stories. It was clear the festival kids were all feeling inspired from the great line up of authors they had seen during the day.  

My ‘Illustration Time’ session on Family Day was also a hoot. It involved live drawing, trumpet tooting and book readings. From the pics you can tell I was having just as much fun as the kids!

The icing on the festival cake was that my publisher was able to send stock of 1, 2, Pirate Stew just in time! It was available in the Dymocks festival book shop three days prior to its official release date! So it was wonderful to be able to reveal and share my latest picture book.

The fun continued behind the scenes, comparing trumpets and meeting other authors in the green room who were also presenting at the festival. And the usual SCBWI crew were always lurking about, so it was great to catch up with my local author and illustrator buddies too.