Jacky Winter and Scribble present
Better than Friends
30 August — 16 September 2017
30 August — 16 September 2017
Lamington Drive, in collaboration with Scribble Kids’ Books, is pleased to present There’s Nothing Better than Friends — a celebration of the classic photographic picture books My Donkey Benjamin and My Pig Paulina. The two books, published in the late 60s and written by German author Hans Limmer, gained international success and have become iconic children’s book titles.
The exhibition includes giclée editions of two original black and white photographs from the books, a series of graphic re-interpretations of the imagery and text as large-scale posters, and a Scribble pop-up shop. There will also be two special readings of the books happening on consecutive Saturdays as part of an accompanying public program.
My Donkey Benjamin was first published in 1968 as Mein Esel Benjamin, inspired by Limmer’s own life on the Greek island of Rhodes, with photography by Lennart Osbeck. The follow up, My Pig Paulina, was shot by David Crossley in Greece. Both books are stories of friendship and adventure, shared by little girls and their animal pals.
Miriam Rosenbloom of Scribble on the show, the books, and their personal and historical context:
“I launched Scribble in 2016 after publishing two titles under the umbrella of Scribe (Amazing Babes and The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade). I felt there was an opportunity in the market to showcase the best of contemporary Australian illustration and writing through picture books. There is a genuine international renaissance happening at the moment in illustrated kids’ books, and the exceptional talent in Australia deserves to be a part of it. We publish around 6-8 books a year and roughly three quarters we commission ourselves (the other titles are translated works).
I have always loved photographic picture books. As a child, My Donkey Benjamin was one of our firm family favourites. There is something so engaging about seeing images of other children when you’re a child. Illustration inevitably involves some level of abstraction, which works brilliantly in so many circumstances, but there is a different and more literal connection formed with photography that I was, and am, really interested in.
One of the first photobooks for children was made by photographer Edward Steichen and his daughter Mary Steichen Calderone in 1930. Called The First Picture Book, it was wordless and featured a series of straightforward and beautiful photographs of everyday objects that a child might encounter in the first three years of its life. The book represented a marked shift in educational theory and in the role of photography in early books for children. This approach is now ubiquitous in the board-book market with endless and endlessly bland books using photographs to help children learn the connection between an image and word.
In the 1950s, a different kind of photobook was developed that relied more heavily on narrative storytelling and aimed to appeal to a slightly older audience. The famous film and book that followed, The Red Balloon, was the first breakthrough title in this genre. This was followed by the heyday of narrative photobooks in the 1960s & 1970s — often using the work of photojournalists and featuring countries and children from all over the world. The groundbreaking work of photographer and teacher Tana Hoban, in particular, extended the relationship between this narrative storytelling and the more literal object display of the early Steichen books.
Somehow, in our Instagram/internet/smart phone saturated world, we have overlooked the immense power of the photograph for children, and the opportunity for identification and empathy that it provides. Relegated almost solely to dry non-fiction baby books (‘key’, ‘teddy’, ‘apple’), I think the continuing success of a book like My Donkey Benjamin is a real testament to this power, and we’re delighted to share it with a new generation.”
About the Artists
Lennart Osbeck is a Swedish photographer who still lives in the Greek islands.
David Crossley has worked as a photographer, editor, and scientific journalist. He was co-founding president of the Houston Centre for Photography.
Scribble is an imprint of Melbourne-based publisher Scribe, which focuses solely on children’s picture books. Founded in 2016, Scribble showcases brilliant, Australian writing and illustration for kids through their yearly output of 6–8 titles. These new editions of My Donkey Benjamin and My Pig Paulina are both a departure for the press, and a tribute to the lineage of modern children’s books.
Next year Scribble will be releasing its first own-developed photobook — a collaboration with writer Jane Godwin, Jacky Winter artist Beci Orpin, and photographer Hilary Walker.
There’s Nothing Better than Friends runs August 30–September 9
Saturday 2 September, 12.30–1.15pm
My Pig Paulina reading with Davina Bell. Davina Bell is a writer and editor of books for young people. Author of numerous titles including The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade and Under the Love Umbrella.
Saturday 16 September, 12.30–1.15pm
My Donkey Benjamin reading. Special guest reader to be announced soon!
Both sessions are free, no bookings required! Bring the kid’s! Animal pals welcome too :-)
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