Saturday, 14 August 2010

a cover story

There was much discussion around who would illustrate the cover of Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children. For some time I had hoped it would be Irena Sibley. I met Irena through a mutual friend who like Irena is also a talented artist. Irena and I chatted and she kindly read the great, unwieldy first draft. She loved it and was keen to do the cover. But Irena was ill at the time and already struggling with a heavy workload. I dreaded putting her under more pressure. Still, her enthusiasm and incredibly strong will were undeniable and her scraperboard work and linocuts had a gorgeous sort of ‘fairytale gothic’ feel. My publisher, Lisa, also liked them and was at that time considering a black and white theme. I kept my fingers crossed. Sadly, however, it was not to be. Irena passed away before my book was even at first pages. I still wonder what wonderfully dark image she would have created and grieve the passing of someone so special. If you would like to know more about this remarkable woman please read her autobiography, Self Portrait of The Artist’s Wife. It is a beautiful book, full of wonderful insights into the Australian art world and into Irena’s fearless, quirky life. Published by The Lytlewood Press.

In the meantime, Lisa had been keeping an eye on the work of
Sonia Kretschmar. Sonia had done two covers for another Penguin author, Cassandra Golds (whose work I am in awe of) and Lisa believed Sonia would create something striking for Tensy. Lisa wasn’t wrong. The central image is totally captivating; the finished product way beyond my expectations. Soon after publication a man even e-mailed me and asked if he could put the image on his t-shirt (yep, for himself). I kindly referred him to Sonia. Ahem...


Here are some other bits and pieces that make up this cover story...

Rachael Carmichael, oil on silk. This dainty image beckoned across the wide expanses of an art show at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton. Himself and I spotted it at the same time and simultaneously exclaimed, ‘It’s Tensy!’ We hurriedly scraped together our pennies (imagining everyone at the exhibition would be after it) and rushed to make our purchase. It has enjoyed pride of place above our fireplace ever since.

Little faceless Tensy. A felt doll purchased at a Steiner School fair.
An example of Irena’s scraperboard work.

Tony’s (the designer’s) mock-up.
By this stage we were all getting a tad squeally.
I’m so proud that our book won the APA Design Award. I love the collaborative stage of writing; cover discussions, editorial meetings, pouring over first pages, tis a fine, fine thing. Somehow it really does make all those months, nay years in isolation seem worth it. x
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1 comment:

  1. Aha, thank you for referring me to this, I'm interested in the collaboration between illustrators and authors. It is a lovely cover.

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