I consciously strive not to be a raving fangirl, with the consequence that I only found out about the CBCA conference the afternoon on which Deb and I were to fly to Melbourne. Shaun Tan’s keynote address was one of two which were open to the public (for a fee) and having consulted the list and been informed by Cat and Sean that it would be worth the fee twice over, I went. At 9am on the first morning in Melbourne*. My striving is not always successful.
And it was.
Shaun’s speech was lucid and humble and wise and personal, illustrated throughout by images cast upon the screen – from first grade drawings (complete with roosting pterodactyls) through paintings from life (more mysterious sometimes than his fantastic pieces), illustrations and covers (Aurealis, Sara Douglas) that I knew (and owned) but did not know were his, to his recent, mysterious, luminous work. The development and changes were striking.
He began by reading “Eric” – a short story about an exchange student from his new book Tales of Outer Suburbia, with the images on the screen behind him. I could quite happily sit and listen to picture/illustrated books this way indefinitely.
He said the major themes in his work were:
- Fantasy Worlds
- Real Worlds
- The Gap of Understanding Between the Two
Main points from my notes: