Picture This – Art Ideas for Bookweek in the St Peter’s Public Library Community Hall on June 22nd was the twelfth annual art-based event that the CBC has run. And I’ve been thinking recently about how it all started, and how things have changed over the years as our circumstances have changed.
Our first art-evening was organized for us by Jane Moore and took place in her school-library at the beginning of March in 2007. In part it was a celebration of the beginning of a new CBC year. So we called it a cocktail party: food was very, very plentiful, and the cocktails made you levitate.
The theme was (the UN) International Polar Year – and thus had nothing to do with the Awards or Bookweek. The particular pleasure of it all was seeing how Jane had decorated her library to reflect this theme. It looked simply stunning. The evening included a demonstration of relevant art-activities for children by Janine Boyd of Little Picasso Art (no hands-on!) and talks and displays by book-sellers (Bees Knees and Seelect at that first event). Participants went home with bags of goodies including a hand-out of pictures of Jane’s library to inspire them.
The last time we used an UN International Year-theme was 2012. By that time we had changed our venue to Linda Guthrie’s equally beautiful library, the presenter had changed, and her role become more prominent, and the alcohol was perhaps less elevating.
The new presenter was Evelynne Richardson, formerly a primary art-teacher, and also an artist in her own right. Evelynne introduced an element of hands-on, but it had to be kept very simple, as people were working on clip-boards on their laps.
By this time, too, the CBC Committee was concerned about the fact that although a great deal of effort went into organizing the art-event, and you couldn’t fault the presenter, it was decreasing in popularity. We decided that there were two probable reasons for this: one was that UN International Years were not all equally interesting, at least from a visual point-of-view (the 2012 one was the Year of Co-operatives – but perhaps we should rejoice that at least we escaped the Year of Pulses – 2016!); the other that trying to hold a CBC event in the face of The Fringe, the Festival, WOMADelaide, Writers’ Week and the car race was simply not a good idea. So we changed the date to May/June, and re-badged our effort as ‘Art Ideas for Bookweek’. Numbers increased dramatically the following year, and have been between good and overwhelming ever since.
In 2016 Evelynne retired as presenter, and we invited Maxine Cavaggion to replace her. Maxine has a long history teaching art to both children and teachers.
We intended, from the beginning, that the ‘Art Ideas for Bookweek’ session would include ideas on both the theme and the shortlisted picture books. But it has always been difficult to offer adequate coverage of both in a couple of hours on a Friday night when people are inevitably tired.
The ‘hands on’ element has also caused difficulties from the beginning: it takes up time, and we have to have the right equipment and appropriate furniture (ie tables).
Another factor we now have to take into account is that our public has changed. Teacher-librarians are well on the way to extinction (as are school-libraries that look like Aladdin’s Cave). We now need to run a session which is helpful principally to public librarians, classroom teachers, and SSOs. So there will be another discussion, and once again we will seek to adjust our offering to meet the current need.
Val van Putten,
Picture This – Art Ideas for Bookweek