For much of this year, as for last, the ILF team has been unable to make field trips to remote communities.
But our Regional Coordinator, Tictac Moore, based on Melville Island in the Tiwi Islands, recently visited nearby Bathurst Island to the west, where she met with staff at Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic Primary School, known locally as MCPS.
A two-day trip — island-hopping via the car ferry — had been planned, but on Day 1 a funeral was being held in the Wurrumiyanga community.
Tictac spent all of the second day, however, meeting with Dominique Crawley, the Curriculum Coordinator at MCPS, and teaching staff members Molly, Francis and Julie, who look after the cultural aspects of the school’s curriculum.
The prime purpose of this trip was to explore possible ways in which ILF might work with the school and community.
Tictac took with her copies of books written and illustrated by students at Milikapiti School and Tiwi College, as part of our Create Initiative and Community Literacy Projects programs.
They included No Way Yirrikipayi by students at Milikapiti School, Tiwi Girl and Shallow in the Deep End by senior girls at Tiwi College in Pickertaramoor, as well as the No Way Yirrikipayi board book produced earlier this year and launched late last term amidst much celebration!
In turn, the staff at MCPS showed Tictac an impressive collection of more than 100 old stories from Bathurst Island that had been written down, printed in the school office and bound.
Such was the high level of excitement generated, the meeting turned into a very long, very full and highly productive day of buzzy brainstorming.
“When they saw the proper ILF books, their brains really got going,” Tictac says.
The upshot of Tictac’s trip to MCPS is that already plans are well underway for the students there to produce some books of their own.
At the top of their “wish list” are two illustrated song books, both to be written in Tiwi. And while both will be illustrated by the children, the teaching staff are already doing a lot of the background work towards the production and publication of these new books.
And Tictac has been across to Darwin to pick up art supplies. Normally these would be sent direct to Melville Island from the ILF office in Sydney, but current COVID-19 retail restrictions and delays with deliveries nation-wide have again necessitated some new ways of working.
Sadly, also due to lockdowns, it won’t be possible for any ILF Ambassadors to travel to the Tiwi Islands, as once they would have done, to conduct illustrating workshops with the eager students.
Fortunately, however, ILF Lifetime Ambassador and renowned children’s author Alison Lester has made a series of online book illustration tutorials.
“The teachers will watch these with the kids, replay them, and then it will be a matter of them doing the watercolour paintings step by step.”
Copies of the new books from MCPS will feature in “Tiwi Corner” in the new school library that is currently being set up. And the books will also be distributed to the schools on Melville Island.
In the meantime, Tictac expects there’ll be “a lot of back and forth” among MCPS, community elders on Bathurst Island, and the ILF publishing team. But she is hopeful that the books will be completed by the end of 2021 and published in time for a launch early in Term 1 of 2022.
“I can’t wait to see them,” Tictac says.
And neither can we!