Ex­hibit draws young and old

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Street Watch - Tanya MacNaughton

DAME Lyn­ley Dodd’s child­hood in New Zealand was filled com­pet­ing with her fa­ther to think up silly names, such as his affectionate nick­name for her, Ara­bella Slap­cab­bage.

This an­swers a lot about the au­thor/il­lus­tra­tor, who has be­come fa­mous for her much-loved chil­dren’s book char­ac­ters in­clud­ing Hairy Maclary, Slinky Malinki, Schnitzel von Krumm, Bot­tom­ley Potts, Her­cules Morse and Scar­face Claw.

Dodd’s life and work is cel­e­brated in The Lyn­ley Dodd Story ex­hi­bi­tion, cu­rated by fel­low New Zealan­der Pene­lope Jack­son and show­ing at the State Li­brary of WA for the AWE­SOME In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val for Bright Young Things.

Dodd, a trained sculp­tor and lover of all an­i­mals, was in Perth for the ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing and said she never dreamed of a ca­reer in chil­dren’s books, cer­tainly not one last­ing more than 30 years with 34 publi­ca­tions.

“I never thought I’d do more than one Hairy Maclary book, let alone a se­ries, but my pub­lisher said they wanted a sec­ond,” Dodd said.

“I’d just bought my week’s meat and was in my car when sud­denly I saw a large dog walk­ing away from the butcher’s with a whole load of meat and bones hang­ing from his mouth. The butcher had clearly been very kind and the dog was on his way but I won­dered how he was go­ing to get home with­out his friends get­ting that lot from him.

“A lit­tle light bulb went off and there was Hairy Maclary book two.”

Jack­son, who has known Dodd for 10 years, said it was this sim­plic­ity and fa­mil­iar­ity in the sto­ries that spoke to read­ers across gen­er­a­tions.

“The ex­hi­bi­tion is very much about Lyn­ley’s prac­tice,” Jack­son said.

“Peo­ple have this strange idea about chil­dren’s books that you can just knock one up af­ter lunch when ac­tu­ally they take as long as a novel, at least a year from be­gin­ning to end.

“Some of those books will have 22 drafts to get it right, which is why we in­cluded some of those prepara­tory draw­ings in the ex­hi­bi­tion.

“In New Zealand, we think Lyn­ley’s books are quin­tes­sen­tial New Zealand in many ways and then you come over here and they’re so in­ter­na­tional and loved.”

The Lyn­ley Dodd Story ex­hi­bi­tion runs un­til Jan­uary 27.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d444322

Chil­dren’s book au­thor Lyn­ley Dodd was in Perth to open an ex­hi­bi­tion of her works.

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