Pamela Lofts Bequest for Literacy and Learning

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is honoured to be the recipient of a substantial bequest from well-known artist and illustrator Pamela Lofts. The Pamela Lofts Bequest for Literacy and Learning Project was launched in 2014. It provides a mentorship program for Indigenous children in remote communities in Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Pamela Lofts: artist and illustrator

Pamela Lofts (1949–2012) was a nationally renowned artist and a much loved children’s book illustrator. She has left behind an enormous legacy in her contribution to children’s literature.

Based in Alice Springs, Pamela established the Watch this Space Artist-run Initiative in 1994, and the following year won the prestigious 26th Alice Prize. Pamela exhibited and participated in residencies nationally and overseas, and is represented in state and regional gallery collections, including the National Gallery of Australia.

Pamela worked with storytellers and children to produce eight Aboriginal stories, which continue to be reprinted and read in schools to this day. Pamela illustrated three of Mem Fox’s children’s books: Koala Lou, Sail Away: the Ballad of Skip & Nell and Hunwick’s Egg. She also illustrated the popular Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughan.

Literacy and Learning mentorship program

The project endeavours to nurture promising young writers, illustrators, and artists through a week-long camp. During this time the selected children will learn from mentors who will engage and support each child in a writing project. 

Above all, the project is to make good storytellers better storytellers, to instil a sense of confidence and pride, and give a glimpse of the possibilities and opportunities that writing and illustration can lead to.

2014 Literacy and Learning workshops

The Pamela Lofts Bequest Project workshops ran for the first time in 2014, with eight young writers participating in a week-long writing camp. The students, aged 13 to 16 years old, hailed from diverse communities across NT and WA, including Manyallaluk, Hermannsburg, Broome, Robinson River and Minyerri.


The Yirara Mix Book

As a result of the Literacy and Learning workshops, ran by Indigenous writers and poets Ali Cobby Eckermann, Lionel Fogarty and Lorna Munro, students produced The Yirara Mix Book.

The mentors helped the students produce a series of short stories, poems and non-fiction pieces for the book. ILF partnered with HarperCollins publishers and Yirara College, them to transform these stories into The Yirara Mix Book. 

The book is a collection of 24 short stories and poems, and was launched in Alice Springs in March 2015 with the support of Alice Springs Public Library. 

Student responses

“I write for fun. I like writing about adventure and the land. My grandmother and grandfather are good storytellers who shared stories about their lives.”

 Melton Armstrong

“I have enjoyed having Ali, Lionel and Lorna here to teach us how to write a poem and how to read it with expression.”

 Crystella Campbell

“I would like to say a big THANK YOU for your effort that you gave us in learning how to write short stories and short poems.

Tara Kelly

“Writing these stories was a good experience. I enjoy writing stories that use my imagination.

 Mark Fordham

The ILF will receive royalties from the following titles

  • Koala Lou
  • Hunwick's Egg
  • Bedtime Picture Book Pack 1
  • Dun the Owl
  • Wombat Stew Cookbook

  • Sail Away
  • Snug as a Hug
  • When the Snake Bites the Sun
  • Wombat Stew

Every book sold helps our program.