Il­lus­tra­tor de­lights in book project

Draw­ings for favourite au­thor

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By EMMA DAWE

She may not be well known for il­lus­trat­ing books, but when Cromwell artist Dei­dre Copeland was asked to il­lus­trate a book by one of her favourite au­thors – Janet Frame – there was no way she could refuse. ‘‘It was an hon­our to be asked. I’ve al­ways been a big fan of Janet Frame and her work. I felt lucky to be able to do it.’’ The manuscript of the ne­ver­be­fore pub­lished book, called The Mijo Tree, had been stored at the Hocken Li­brary, in Dunedin, since 1970. It was writ­ten be­tween 1956 and 1957, dur­ing Frame’s time in Ibiza, and is be­ing de­scribed by the pub­lish­ers, Pen­guin NZ, as ‘‘a darkly beau­ti­ful fa­ble from a writer of vast imag­i­na­tive power’’. Ms Copeland, who is most well­known for her huge portraits, was ap­proached about a year ago to il­lus­trate the book and was given a ba­sic brief of what the pub­lish­ers wanted. ‘‘It had to be black and white and have the look and feel of a book from the 1950s,’’ she said. Other than the ba­sic brief, she was given the free­dom to il­lus­trate it in the way she thought best cap­tured the story. ‘‘It was quite mind­bog­gling. I had to weed out the main parts of the story and il­lus­trate them. I lost count of the num­ber of times I’ve read the story.’’ Ms Copeland said she spent a lot of time re­search­ing the story – while the Mijo tree doesn’t ex­ist, it was be­lieved to have been loosely based on the Ju­das tree – be­fore pro­duc­ing a con­cept draft which the pub­lish­ers loved. ‘‘I wanted it to be an in­tri­cate puz­zle with lots of hid­den ob­jects in the dark­ness of the shad­ows, be­cause Janet Frame’s work is like that..’’ She was de­lighted with the fi­nal out­come. ‘‘I’m re­ally happy with how in­ti­mately the words and il­lus­tra­tions knit to­gether.’’

Photo: SUP­PLIED

What: Dei­dre Copeland launches TheMi­joTree and the paint­ings she did for the book Where: The Artist’s Room Fine Art Gallery, Dunedin Hon­our: Cromwell artist Dei­dre Copeland with­The Mi­joTree, writ­ten by Janet Frame, which she has re­cently fin­ished il­lus­trat­ing.

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