In an era when the average Australian child spends 20 hours a week in front of a television or computer screen, one of our best-selling children's authors is bringing children back to books in their droves.
Such is the appeal of award-winning author and illustrator Jeannie Baker's work that coinciding with the August release of her much anticipated book Mirror, the original works are to feature in a national touring exhibition opening 14 August at the Museum of Sydney, before travelling to seven venues around the country.
The Sydney-based author has long delighted children and adults around the world with her distinguished picture books featuring detailed layered collages made from salvaged materials that take on a three-dimensional effect.
Baker's intricately collaged illustrations in Mirror link two diverse countries and cultures to illustrate how people on opposite sides of the world can be connected despite geographical and cultural differences.
These extraordinary works of art tell the story of the lives of two boys and their families: one from inner city Sydney, Australia and the other from a remote Berber village in Morocco, North Africa.
The worlds of the two boys couldn't be further apart, yet Baker shows us, via a delightful twist at the end, how their separate lives are in fact intertwined.
The exhibition invites visitors to experience the Sydney story in the way that is customary for Westerners to read, from left to right, from front to back, while the Moroccan story reads from right to left and from back to front, as in Arabic, the written language of the Berber people.
At the midpoint of the exhibition hangs a mirror, with words engraved both in Arabic and English, telling the viewer to go back to the exhibition start and walk in the opposite direction to follow the other story. As the viewer looks in the mirror at their own reflection, they may contemplate 'what does a stranger grasp when they see this face?'
Baker says after travelling to Morocco she was attracted by the idea of strangeness and foreignness travelling in a country very different to her own. "The simple truth is that even with all these differences, in the ways that really matter, we are all the same. We are the mirror of each other."
The travelling exhibition 'Mirror' is supported by the Australian Government through the Council for Australian- Arab Relations (CAAR).
Exhibition: 14 August – 10 October 2011
Museum of Sydney, cnr Bridge and Phillip Sts
Open daily, 9.30am-5pm www.hht.net.au
The picture book Mirror is written and illustrated by Jeannie Baker and published by Walker Books in August 2010.
National Tour Venues
Museum of Sydney
14 August–10 October
5 November–13 February 2011
The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide
18 March–13 May 2011
Ipswich Art Gallery
25 June–11 October 2011
Newcastle Region Library
4 November–15 January 2012
Canberra Museum and Art Gallery
3 February–20 May 2012
State Library of Western Australia
5 July–28 September 2012
Blacktown Arts Centre
November 2012–January 2013
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