Saturday, August 23, 2008

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie

The Gumnut Babies

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie - The Gumnut Babies
(cover detail)



They Found Mr Lizard at the Photographer's

They Found Mr Lizard at the Photographer's



At The Artist's Studio

At The Artist's Studio



Mrs Kookaburra's Dinner Party

Mrs Kookaburra's Dinner Party



Sea Dragons in Their Stable

Sea Dragons in Their Stable



Snugglepot Fights The Red Gumnut

Snugglepot Fights The Red Gumnut



Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (detail)

Little Obelia (detail)



The Banksia Men Make a Wicked Plot

The Banksia Men Make a Wicked Plot



The Cabstand

The Cabstand



The Cricket Match

The Cricket Match



The Gum Blossom Ballet

The Gum Blossom Ballet



The Lecture

The Lecture



They Began the Homeward Journey

They Began the Homeward Journey



Little Obelia

Little Obelia



May Gibbs (1877-1969) emigrated to Australia from England with her parents when she was four years old. Part of her childhood was spent at a farming homestead in Western Australia where Gibbs' love of the unique species in the Australian bush developed. The nuts, leaves and flowers she discovered as a child provided a lifetime of inspiration for her iconic and imaginative illustration work.

The daughter of talented artists, Gibbs was encouraged to draw and paint from a young age and she had her first illustration published in a Perth newspaper by the time she was twelve years old. After finishing school she returned to England for extended periods on several occasions to study art, but eventually settled in Neutral Bay in Sydney in 1913 when her Australian bush illustrations were rejected by publishers in London. In that year the first of her drawings of Gumnut babies (also known as bush babies or bush sprites, seen in many of the above illustrations) appeared as the cover art for another author.

There followed a series of Gumnut booklets which sold well and culminated in the release, during the 1918 armistice celebrations, of 'The Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie'. The gentle bush story about the adventures of our eponymous half-brother Gumnut heroes, and all the anthropomorphic characters they encountered, became an instant classic. The national success was due in no small part to Gibbs' creation of an entirely local mythology. The book employed a traditional narrative style, based on the fairytale stories from Europe, but Gibbs' myriad drawings and paintings, with their faithful portrayal of Australian fauna and flora, turned familiar bush scenes into a proud national identity for childhood imaginations. {the book has never been out of print}
"Since eucalypts and banksias, not to mention all of the bush creatures, are found right across Australia, Gibbs had created images that appealed to the entire nation. Seed pod hats, gum blossom skirts, gumleaf and sea shell houses, leaf boats and stick chairs, set imaginations running wild. Children everywhere couldn't help but wonder when they saw such things, whether Gumnut Babies really did live there, especially when they could actually see their scribbly writing on the trees. Gibbs took what every child could easily find and gave it a fantasy life of its own."
The Gumnut adventures were continued in successful sequels, 'Little Ragged Blossom', in 1920; and 'Little Obelia' in 1921. Gibbs published further books within a similar fantasy bush setting and syndicated newspaper columns and comic strips. One of these, 'Bib and Bub', was published for over sixty years.


IMPORTANT: As part of the terms of May Gibbs' bequest, profits from sales of all merchandise associated with the 'Snugglepot and Cuddlepie' series are used by (exceptional, longstanding and exemplary) charitable trusts to directly benefit disabled children [link].

Although this is a completely unsolicited 'moment', I would urge you to consider buying 'The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie Including Little Ragged Blossom and Little Obelia' if you are in the market for an absolutely gorgeous and delightful children's book. It's also a sweet way to introduce a child to Australia; but really, the quality and uniqueness of the illustrations is ample justification alone. That it will benefit less fortunate children is simply a bonus.

The above illustrations were scanned from an edition (as linked above, although mine has a different cover) that combines all three of the Snugglepot/Blossom/Obelia books. The posted images were drawn from all three works and are in no particular order (there are more in the set). These are only a sampling. There are vignettes, sepia sketches and full colour painted scenes all through the book, reproduced from the original artworks.

13 comments :

Content in a Cottage said...

Peacay...These illustrations are the best. Thanks for introducing us to these wonderful characters. It's never too late to have a second childhood!
Rosemary

JP said...

YesYesYES! Hoohoooo. Just got to the point today that I could start checking blogs again after our move from Oz; imagining that you must have posted on Snugglepot &Cuddlepie by now and eager to find the images and commentary; so I fire up Bibliodyssey to add it to the favorites task bar on my new machine and find that this is, in fact, the very day of the post!

A cosmic humor confronts us daily with the problem of good.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Love Snugglepot and Cuddlepie! Both the words, and the illustrations!

PIGNOUF said...

superbe !

Dimo Java-lee said...

What amazing collection of images here.I was in the Tokyo palace (Paris) and I saw the book of BibliOdyssey. Incredible.

Also, I want to invite you to Apuntes Críticos, a space consecrated to the image in the contemporary societies:

http://www.javaleegarcia.blogspot.com/
thanks,
Apuntes Críticos

AJS said...

A pleasure to encounter such dear images! My day is made brighter.

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

These brought back memories - although I must admit to being more of a "Bottersnikes and Gumbles" person.

Professor Estevez said...

What a treasure! Thank you!

lotusgreen said...

oh, so charming

Karla said...

The sea dragons may be my favorite (not quite sure but they are certainly very fine), but the art studio amused me quite a bit.

I should have known I couldn't have been the first person ever to use eucalyptus whatchamacallits as hats for small creatures, but the revelation at the end of the post that Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are male was quite a surprise.

Anyhow, they're all very fun and I'm glad to hear the proceeds from the books go to good causes. More people should be so intelligent with their estates.

anna said...

The banksia men are my favourite. The spent banksia flowers really look like that and I can remember hunting for the most scary looking banksia men as a kid. Great post. Great blog!

silent sapien said...

Actually had to order this book from an Australian site after ogling this post. Looking forward to it's arrival. Next I guess I'll track down the Bottersnikes.

By the way, when does Bibliodyssey Volume 2 come out?

Zhiqi said...

I have a set of lovely postcards that includes that 'Little Obelia' image. Thank you for providing a deeper look into this artist!

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