Mon­ster draw­ings of­fer hope

Canning Times - - FRONT PAGE - Jaime Shurmer­mu­ni­ d474209

THE John Curtin Gallery will present an ex­hi­bi­tion of orig­i­nal draw­ings from the graphic novel Small Things.

The award-win­ning book was cre­ated by Curtin alumna and graphic il­lus­tra­tor Mel Tre­gonning.

The ex­hi­bi­tion co­in­cides with Men­tal Health Week, Oc­to­ber 7 to 14, as Mel took her own life af­ter bat­tling de­pres­sion in 2014.

Perth-born artist Shaun Tan drew the fi­nal three pages to com­plete the book the fam­ily was de­ter­mined to see fin­ished and Small Things was pub­lished by Allen & Un­win in Septem­ber last year.

“In the be­gin­ning she used to drive us mad, al­ways want­ing to pho­to­graph us to pre­pare the ini­tial draw­ings for the book,” Mel’s mum Lynette Tre­gonning said.

“She was metic­u­lous; she wanted to get the de­tails and com­po­si­tion just right. She worked on the novel for about six years, start­ing with the pho­to­graphs and even cre­at­ing a draft for the pub­lish­ers, all the while work­ing full­time as an il­lus­tra­tor.

She said the fam­ily was de­lighted the ex­hi­bi­tion was at John Curtin Art Gallery.

“It’s re­ally one of the most im­por­tant places for the works to be shown as she ab­so­lutely loved her time at Curtin,” she said.

“She made many friends here and was very in­volved at the art school.”

Small Things won the 2016 Li­brar­i­ans’ Choice Award, the Gold Ledger Award this year and it was short­listed for the Crich­ton Award for New Il­lus­tra­tors 2017.

There are no words in the book but its black-and-white draw­ings fea­ture a young boy who strug­gles to shake the mon­sters that fol­low him ev­ery­where, but it also re­veals help is never far away.

John Curtin Gallery di­rec­tor Chris Mal­colm said art ther­apy had long been recog­nised as a way to help im­prove well­be­ing.

“These works on show speak on many lev­els,” he said.

“I know it has had a pro­found ef­fect on teach­ers and men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als who see the ed­u­ca­tional po­ten­tial to use Small Things as a tool to launch into many top­ics of dis­cus­sion and study.”

There will be a men­tal health panel dis­cus­sion on Oc­to­ber 10 to co­in­cide with World Men­tal Health Day.

The panel will in­clude Mel’s sis­ter, Vi­o­let Tre­gonning.

Pic­ture: Will Rus­sell

Lynette Tre­gonning and John Curtin Gallery di­rec­tor Chris Mal­colm look at il­lus­tra­tions from Small Things.

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