The Future Imperfect art show is being held at Swancon in Perth over Easter. I cannot go (one day I will make it to Western Australia!) but I am putting 4 pieces in the exhibition. The catalogue is not yet out (I will link to it when it is published), but I have seen it and the art is all large and vibrant – except for my tiny monochrome pieces!

These are all in pen and ink and measure approximately 11 x 11cm (just over 4″x4″).

Listening device - a Victorian lady wears a flowered hat with a metal horn angled towards her ear

The text for the picture above reads, “A personal listening advice – portable and adjustable…” and was inspired by articles (new and old) on the Death of the Book. The writing in the top right corner is a reference to “Vere Thornleigh’s Inheritance” by AM Hopkinson (I haven’t read it, but it is serialised in Cassell’s Family Magazine, which is a favourite reference of mine). Those are my eyebrows, and the roses I bought on sale at at the supermarket.

Mechanical Magpie - a wind-up tin magpie with the punched paper strip which programs it

The mechanical magpie is based on iPods and the Emperor’s Nightingale, and a small tin goose Christmas ornament I have. The pearls were my Australian grandmother’s, as was the silver box their case is based on, and the key which has become the winder on the bird. The image behind is an Australian reimagining of some Chinese silk embroideries an ambassador gave her on a cruise.

Text messages - two Edwardian school girls send messages by pigeon

A rather obvious joke, perhaps, in this one. The text reads, “They will send text messages when they should be studying…” The art is with apologies to the illustrator of Sophie Knightley’s story “The Mascot of Merlin House” which appeared in The Violet Book for Girls edited by Mrs Herbert Strang. The internet says it was first published in 1914. My extraordinarily battered copy was “presented to [Lollie? Sallie?] Harris for attendance” at Wyena State School at “Xmas 1914”. The patterned glass is in all my favourite windows.

Flying nurse - a nurse sits with a patient in the basket of a dirigible

The style of this one, like the “Text messages” picture, is intended to hark back to the girls’ adventure books. The nurse is based on a picture of my great-great aunt? grandmother? who looks both startlingly like me and like Mrs Gulch, although with more lace. I’ve toned this lady down a bit. The name of this aircraft is the Victoire, because the first plane in the Australian Aerial Medical Service (later, the Royal Flying Doctor Service) was the Victory. My family never had to use the service, but I did a substantial portion of my schooling over a Flying Doctor radio.