This morning I attended a morning tea at the Greenwood Early Education centre in Katoomba as one of my pieces of work had been shortlisted in the Greenwood Art Prize 2015. The theme was Education. I walked around looking at the art on display and was blown away by the talent in our wonderful community. From kids to adults, the work was incredible. I was thrilled to have been shortlisted but the work was of such high quality, I didn’t really expect to win. Imagine my surprise when my name was called out. There were 6 major winners and to all of them, along with the other entrants, congratulations.
What I was most impressed about was the introductory speech, talking about the vision for early education within their centres. Those formative years are so important. From the ages of birth to five, children are sponges, soaking up everything we say and do. Think about it. In those 5 or so years, they learn a language, sometimes 2. They start to learn to count and to write. They learn how to eat and go to the toilet. They learn who their family are. They learn what they do and don’t like. They have to learn what the word is of everything on the planet. It’s a huge task. I wonder how many of us that went to live in a foreign speaking country could do so much in 5 years. Kids really are amazing.
As a child, I retreated into a world of fantasy to escape the real world. The real world terrified me and with good reason, so the Magic Faraway Tree became the home I went to in my head. When I wanted adventure I went with the Secret Seven or the Famous Five to solve mysteries. When I wanted to step back to a time when life seemed simpler and kinder, I joined the March girls in Little Women or the Woolcot children in Seven Little Australians, though both families made my heart break.
A book can take you anywhere you want to be. It is a time machine, allowing you to go forward or backward in time. It can be a teacher, showing you how to do something. It can show you a world far across the sea that you couldn’t imagine. It records history forever. A book is the greatest invention the world has ever known. I love my computer, but a book brings 26 letters of the alphabet together then makes them into words and for it’s final act, tells a story with them. A book has a feel and a smell all of it’s own.
I have a kindle reader but I still prefer to hold a book in my hand and turn a page. I love to fall asleep with the book still open on the page I was trying to read. Books are the major decoration in my lounge room. My bookshelf is full of my favourites and I love collecting sets. I get frustrated when my favourite authors bring out books in different sizes, because they don’t look like a set. In short…. I ADORE BOOKS.
I created this piece of work with that in mind. I wanted to recreate how it made me feel when I opened a book and lost myself in a strange new land, full of adventure and excitement. My beautiful niece Ava posed for me in her Nanna’s garden and I took that photo, added a photo from the Rock of Dunamase, as well as a tower from Blarney Castle, both from Ireland. Rapunzel’s hair hangs, winding it’s way through the windows of the tower, planning her escape. A unicorn flies over the scene. *Disclaimer – I did not take the photo of the unicorn I’m afraid. I couldn’t find one *
The name of the piece is taken from Dr Seuss. It’s a long piece so feel free to look the whole thing up on the internet but this is an excerpt from it and I guess it’s very apt today as I feel so incredibly humbled and happy at winning this prize. Thanks so much to Greenwood for supporting the arts community in this way and for understanding the importance of art in the education of our children.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.