marvellous maps wrap-up and sorry day launch

Thursday, 31 May 2018

It would easily be thirty years since I've set foot inside the State Library of New South Wales. Sydney was my stomping ground during the '80s, and I still have a deep affection for this city, especially its molten core of culture, the arts and humanities.

The SLNSW is a central hub in this delicious melting pot, and how I've waited this long to revisit, I do not know. The Library has been undergoing some impressive upgrades, and several new galleries (with more to come) have opened, along with a children's learning centre, opening early October.

The current line-up of programmes, events and brain-popping resources is, on its own, worth a Sydney visit (I hope to go later in the year), and I was fortunate to have a wee tour of the SLNSW's hallowed halls ahead of my Marvellous Maps event this past Sunday.

I left Canberra early on a Dash-8. It was a glorious day. I used to be a flight attendant, but taking off and landing still causes an earnest nose pressed-to-window, as though a birds' eye view is something completely new to my eyes. Each and every time.

Leaving Canberra and arriving in Sydney...

After a swift cab ride, Pauline Fitzgerald and Megan Perry so warmly welcomed me into the hushed rooms of the Library. The Reading Room... is it not somewhere you need to molecularly transport yourself to immediately? How desperate I was to just sit and stare and then dive headlong into a book at one of those tables. Just beautiful.

But I had a map presentation to launch!

Seventy-two families booked in for the event, held in a beautiful, window-lit room. We, kids and adults alike, travelled through time, all the way back to Pangea, to discover how our planet's land was formed, and how maps have been charted through the ages... from the Ancient Greeks who originally thought Earth was a flat plate surrounded by an oceanic rim, and only comprised three landmasses (Europe, Asia and Libya)... right through to the very first complete map of Australia by Matthew Flinders (published 1814), and of course, how modern technology allows us to view entire continents (or even our own house) from space--via satellite.

The children were so engaged and curious--and every single question I asked was answered (even the curly ones!). Kids never fail to astound and delight me, and what a thrill it was to meet so many avid map lovers.

A big thank you to Megan for these great pics.

When my presi was over, the kids got busy with creating their own Australia map, then were taken on mini tours of the impressive objects relating to maps, including Matthew Flinders' own hat, sash, map-making tools, and even his shaving brush!

While I signed maps and books outside the bookshop... enjoyed an absolutely beautiful selection of activities, from dress-ups to captain hat-making and putting together a massive wooden floor puzzle of the world. They were also able to make little houses to put on a map of Sydney, among other wonderful ideas (thanks to Megan, Pauline and their hugely creative team). I tell you what, this was some brilliant production--these kids had a ball.

Thank you, SLNSW! Loved every minute of this special day.

Speaking of special days, Monday 28 May was Reconciliation Day, and we are, of course, in Reconciliation Week. It was the perfect time, then, to launch a new children's book--Sorry Day--at the National Library of Australia last Saturday.

The book's author, my talented friend Coral Vass, and incredible illustrator Dub Leffler, came to Canberra for the event, and I felt so spoiled to have Coral and my dear friend Nicky Johnston in town. We may or may not have drank coffee, perused books, sipped soup and laughed our heads off at several points over the Friday/Saturday!

And it was with much pride to experience what turned out to be the most emotional book launch I've ever witnessed, yet one filled with much love and hope. It was an honour to hear NLA Director-General Dr Marie-Louise Ayres, Brother Tyrone, Sister Rebecca (the NLA's first Indigenous Curator) Anita Heiss, and both Coral and Dub speak on the importance of this beautiful book, and the need to heal the pain of the Stolen Generation. You can read Coral's rundown of the event right here.

Below - NLA publisher Susan Hall, Dub Leffler, Coral Vass.

Below--Dub drawing a beautiful tree in my book copy. Dub, Susan and Coral.

Below--me, Susan Hall, Christina Huynh and Coral Vass. Christina is illustrating Coral's next book. and had travelled all the way from Sydney for this launch, and to meet Susan and Coral. It was such a surprise to meet her after all these years, as I had 'discovered' her for this book. Another example of the book creation process and how it takes a village, with many and varied moving parts! Just wait to see Christina's artwork, rounding out another divine, important creation by Coral, and publishing with the NLA.

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