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Illustration Notes

The last show that I saw at No Vacancy was the “Wooden Foundation”. “Wooden Foundation” a fun group show of artists painting on wooden supports. Some of the wood is new but there are plenty of recycled supports Twoon even painting the underside of a card table. In this and many of the work the bare wooden support is fashionably visible in unpainted areas. Bonsi had created an attractive series of birds, with bare wooden support. Nails had a series of totem poles in different colors hanging from the ceiling. Bonsai, OH54, Nails, Twoon, who call themselves the “Wooden Foundation” describe it as “a small creative family with roots deep in illustration and hand drawn typography. We work individually and as a group to make things for your tired eyes.”

Illustration is blooming in Melbourne. There is a new respect for illustration in our graphic orientated world of computers and computer games. And comic books, graphic novels and manga have propelled the interest in illustration for both the audience and the artists. These new illustrators are popular with devoted, young audience of collectors who find their work attractive and affordable.

Illustration briefly converged with Melbourne’s bourgeoning street art scene, with artists like Ghostpatrol and Miso and galleries like Per Square Metre, 696, Gorker and No Vacancy. The convergence of illustration and street art added techniques to the illustrators and to the mix on the street. Street art is trending to more illustrations, moving from simple comic book characters through to the current billboard naturalism of movie characters. And street art added street cred to the illustrators.

Arty illustrations are fashionable and many galleries are exhibiting them. Yesterday I saw illustration art on exhibit at Brood Box and in Platform’s exhibition windows of Majorca Building where there is Carmel Seymour, “I Often Feel Strangers are Controlling My Thoughts”. Then I saw the Lin Onus exhibition of masterful illustrative prints at the Counihan Gallery.

The subject of many of these illustrations is fantasy, but not the swords and sorcery kind, but the whimsical fantasy of children’s illustrated books. But these illustrations are not illustrations of any text but illustration as art. It is if they are the maquettes for yet un-printed illustrations to yet unwritten text. They have yet to be mass-produced; these are originals work on exhibition (although No Vacancy and others have produced some limited edition books). But I wish that more of Melbourne’s emerging illustrators would actually illustrate existent texts or write their own book.

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About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

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