Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Monday 6 August 2012

A residency at ‘Pinerolo’, the Book Cottage - by Rosemary Mastnak

As a relative newcomer to the field of children’s book illustration, it is with a certain amount of temerity that I step over the threshold of ‘Pinerolo’ Book Cottage.

Walls are covered by originals from award winning illustrators, the bed room shelving chock a block with 3,000 neatly stacked picture books and folders of story boards and preparatory sketches for books in all stages of the production process are on display and accessible for the student.


Just a tad daunting!

Just inside the door a bookcase of first editions and rare books rub shoulders with a display of original matted and cellophaned illustrations.
Among the books for sale displayed in crates on a table I find several to bring home for the grandchildren.

Stacks of books waiting for reviews invade the kitchen and congregate around Margaret’s work space, ever increasing with each visit Max makes to the Post Office in Blackheath, or the courier’s knock.

Margaret gathered me up from Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains, with my shopping (the cottage is self catering), my little bag of clothes and an extremely heavy suitcase containing my sketch pads and equipment ready for a week of work.

And that I certainly did!

I find a routine essential for progress and to this purpose, arose early for a brisk walk along the Shipley plateau, accompanied by carolling bird song, in the crisp, breath- blowing air.

By the end of the week there were five white camellias in a glass, plucked daily from a road side hedge.

Breakfast and then to work by 9.00.

A desk and day light lamp, in a comfortable warm room, served as my studio for five days

Margaret came over from her elegant sandstone Italian-influenced home, (built by husband Max, also an ex-librarian as well as co-publisher of Margaret Hamilton Books), at 10am. It is no surprise to find an extensive library included in the design.

Some time would be spent discussing my pieces and progress was checked regularly during the day.

Margaret gave unstintingly and selflessly of her wealth of knowledge and experience in the book industry, always willingly answering my many queries, and showing me the intricacies of making a story board, something of which I had little knowledge.

From children’s librarian, bookseller, and publisher, a parent of a reader, and her long involvement with CBCA, one can see why Margaret is the most worthy recipient of many distinguished awards, including an Order of Australia for Services to Children’s Literature.

At lunch time we all sat together on the pleasant terrace in the sunshine admiring yellow breasted robins, honeyeaters, parrots and magpies that are regular visitors.

Then it’s back to the drawing board!

Margaret’s mentoring and editing services have been invaluable to me and it’s largely due to her help and encouragement that I now have two books ready to present to publishers.

During my time at ‘Pinerolo’, Margaret made me her prime focus and I am indeed indebted to the Copyright Agency Ltd. who funded this project to host 4 residencies for emerging and/or established children’s book illustrators in 2012.

Margaret, a great champion of the contribution made by illustrators, showcases 22 Australian Illustrators in her ABC Book of Australian Children’s Illustrators, published by ABC Books, 2005.

One of the highlights of my long career in children’s books has been the opportunity to work with illustrators on picture books. The whole creative process from manuscript to finished book is exciting, demanding and immensely rewarding”, she writes.

Thankyou, Max and Margaret for your care, kindnesses and expertise and for welcoming me so warmly to ‘Pinerolo, your little piece of Paradise.

Rosemary Mastnak July 30th,2011

To find out more about Pinerolo, visit www.pinerolo.com.au

Rosemary Mastnak

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