A featured BgW author – part of an occasional series
Looking at the creative origins, motives and the author’s own insights into their work – and you can buy the books too!
About Leigh Hobbs:
He is an Australian artist and author, best known in Australia and the United Kingdom for the humorous children’s books which he has written and illustrated, although he has produced works across a wide range of mediums.
His books principally feature the characters Old Tom, Horrible Harriet, Fiona the Pig, Mr Badger and Mr Chicken, and characters from the 4F for FREAKS books. He is the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2016-17.Buy a Leigh Hobbs title from BgW here
Leigh speaks about his work…
This is a great film, from the Story Box Library, in which Leigh demonstrates his artistry and how he develops his characters.
Leigh thinks that all his creations, even Horrible Harriet, come from some aspect of his own make-up.
The final short sequence of this professional and telling film, is Leigh adding the finishing touches to a sketch of Old Tom. In a few sweeps of his hand he brings depth, life and movement to his drawing.
A marvellous demonstration of how art, storytelling and enthusiasm combine to make some wonderful books for children and adults.
After graduating from Art School in the 1970’s, Leigh’s first job was at Luna Park, an amusement park at Milsons Point, adjacent to Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Dating from the 1930’s, Luna Park is in the best tradition of carnival, circus and fairground. As resident artist, Leigh created two large figures to stand at the entrance to the park.
Mr and Mrs Luna are now safely preserved as exhibits at the Sydney Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.
You can read an article by Anni Turnbull about Leigh’s work, and see images of Mr & Mrs Luna, here.
The power of the book, the influence of the Laureate…
In an interview in Mirrors, Windows and Doors, at the commencement of his Laureateship, Leigh was asked about the abandonment of the library – as both an intellectual resource in schools and communities, and as a valued concept in the learning process. (We have the same foreboding about ‘the book’ in the UK too, Ed.)
In a wonderful, energetic and focused reply Leigh described his tenure …
”…as the Australian Children’s Laureate, during my two-year term I’ll be visiting every state in Australia at least once as an advocate for the power, value and importance of reading. I’ll be running workshops and doing presentations for and to adults on visual literacy, the power of picture books and creating characters in ‘words and pictures’.
And for the kids I will be running workshops with the theme of creating your own characters…in words and pictures. I was a secondary art teacher for twenty five years, so my teaching survival skills are quite honed”.
Grounded, energetic and enthusiastic – just as Leigh delivers his workshops or argues for the profound influence of the book and it’s creativity driving influence on young minds in workshops – whatever the age of the audience.
A love and feel for place…
Last year Leigh conducted a brief tour of Australian illustrated children’s books for The Guardian in the UK.
In a wonderfully illustrated article, Leigh compares and contrasts his own work with those of other artists. It is a comparison which highlights, we thought, the vivacity, colour and movement of Leigh’s own work, but also shows how mood and feeling are created, by others in storytelling, through the use of the image.
In his generous and affirmational article, Leigh counterpoints his own style and methodology of story creation with that of indigenous artists and others, who use colour and tone in ways that are very different from Leigh’s work, but are as emphatically telling in their quality to generate reflection and feeling.
Leigh’s article for The Guardian is a triumph of context. If you are interested in the imagination of young Australians, and the proponents of creativity for it, then Leigh’s tour is the exemplar.
Discover more of Leigh’s work on his Australian web pages here…
Reading the book, buying the book…
You can sample Leigh’s work, by buying the book, below!
At BgW we are always happy to source titles in volume, or to seek out back catalogue items for your project, school, setting or event. Just let us know.
Man of Mystery
Angela Throgmorton decides it is high time that Old Tom helped around the house. But Old Tom has other ideas . . . and just who is that mysterious figure disappearing into the night? Join Angela and Old Tom on a wild chase through the dark streets, with Angela determined to unmask the Man of Mystery!
Buy this book from BgW
Old Tom’s Holiday
When Angela Throgmorton wins a luxury holiday trip, she’s thrilled. The poor woman needs to get away. She’s exhausted from caring for Old Tom, who likes to relax, and never helps around the house. It’s a trip for one – maybe Old Tom can clean his room while she’s gone. On her whirlwind trip, Angela travels on airplanes, trains, and buses…
Buy this book from BgW
Mr. Chicken arrives in Rome
Whether you like pasta or not, Mr Chicken is loose in Rome. Armed with his guidebook and an enormouse sense of curiosity, Mr Chicken sets off to explore the architecture, places and people of Italy’s first city…
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Mr. Chicken Lands on London
From meeting the Queen, to squeezing himself into a red London double-decker bus, Mr. Chicken sets out to explore the curious city on the banks of the River Thames.
Never less than curious, always more chicken than the landscape can cope with.
Great fun, as always from Leigh Hobbs.Buy this book from BgW
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Luna Park image by Greg Hewgill - Creative Commons