Seven talented young women from schools in remote regions of WA and the NT have just spent a week in Sydney advancing their writing and book illustrating skills.
This year, the Pamela Lofts Mentoring Project focused not only on developing storytelling and artwork but also on providing some practical hands-on experience of working in the Australian publishing industry.
Five of the participants, aged 14 to 18, had been “spotted” by our ambassadors on recent field trips to remote communities.
“They were selected for their awesome ability,” says project facilitator Gregg Dreise, one of our Foundation’s ambassadors who has previously run ILF writing and illustrating workshops.
Two of the students attend Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School, WA, where Pitjantjatjara is spoken; two are from Menzies in the Goldfields Region of WA; two attend St Joseph’s College in Katherine, NT; and one hails from Tiwi College on Melville Island in the eastern Timor Sea. This was the first time they had all met and worked as a group.
“It was a very productive network,” says Gregg. “They got to share their talents.”
During the week-long workshop the students worked with our ambassadors Justine Clarke and Josh Pyke to brainstorm stories, practise daily writing, and learn about how to pitch and adapt stories for a target market. Illustrators Dub Leffler, Sally Heinrich and Ann James (also an ambassador) ran sessions on pencil drawing, lino prints, and working with watercolours, pastels and crayons.
“The idea was to inspire the girls to create their own work. They have the skills and talents to do that, and now a much greater knowledge and appreciation of the publishing industry too.”
Later in the week, Dale Newman covered graphic novels, storyboards and the importance of having a great book cover design. Jess Owen (Penguin Random House) covered more technical aspects of book illustration, including digital publishing, reminding the mentorees as they think about their options for the future, that technology like Wi-Fi has made working remotely possible for illustrators. Distance is not necessarily the career handicap it once was.
“We also wanted to let them know that you don’t have to live in the city to go off and do bigger and better things,” says Gregg.
The week’s workshops will be followed up by online mentoring and a writing and illustrating camp in 2019.
The Pamela Lofts Mentoring Project is funded by a generous bequest to our Foundation from Pamela Lofts (1949–2012), the Alice Springs-based artist and illustrator of children’s books.
For information on how to make a bequest to ILF go to www.indigenous literacyfoundation.org.au/bequests or contact us on 02 9280 0644.