Author and illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick has just had a great new show of her work open in Cork City, Ireland. The show includes the complete book – art and story – from her award wining picturebook, Me and the Big Blue Sea, published in 2002 by Gullane Books. The innovative show was the brain child of Cherie O’Sullivan, of the Douglas Public library in Cork City in collaboration with, and with the unbelievably generous blessing, financial investment, and yes, vision, of the Douglas Village Shopping Centre (mall) in which it is situated. (I believe the person who coordinated putting the show up for the mall was Bartosz Mieszala(correct?)).
It is not unusual for Public libraries in Ireland to have been moved into bright modern spaces in new shopping mall projects in city centers. It’s a wonderful way to bring books and reading into a community’s daily routine. And in this case, bringing children’s books, and children’s book art, right into the mainstream consciousness of local people out doing their shopping. The mall itself paid for the exhibit to be mounted and reproduced from Marie-Louise’s art from high quality image files provided by the book’s publisher, Gullane Books.
The Library is modern, attractive, flooded with light, and clearly visible in a glass atrium above shoppers strolling in the mall. The exhibit was mounted on the walls of the passageway from the parking lots, the escalator to the mall below, and the library. This makes it something 100’s of people pass daily on their way in and out of the mall, and since the library has glass walls facing this corridor, the exhibit is also visible from inside the library as well. Brilliant.
Marie-Louise’s art was chosen as the first featured artist in the” Book on the Wall” project ,for even though she hails from Dublin, she is well known, and well loved, in the “Rebel County”, for doing several library visits in the city over the years, as well as being known nationwide as the most recent winner of the prestigious “Bisto Award” for yet another great book – There, (story and illustrations) as the best Irish picturebook of 2010.
The exhibit consists of huge blow-ups of the entire book, words and all, so passers-by can read the story as they walk to the library. The reproductions are fantastic, even to my picky artist’s eye. They must have spent a fortune having them made. It’s not something I’ve heard of before. A for-profit business, in this case a shopping mall, investing a significant amount of money on the long term public display (at least a year) of a complete children’s picturebook. The Mall agreed that it was a good idea to put children’s literature on it’s walls… the hall looks good… the Library looks good…the Mall looks good…. everyone looks good. A round of applause please. More? Everyone listening?
Hundreds of local school children showed up for the opening. They spent the weeks before the event coloring in art from the book to hang on the day. Marie-Louise signed books, gave a short talk to the kids and read from one of her books – as well as “cut a ribbon” ceremony opening the exhibit.
Then Marie-Louise took part in a “draw-off” with this other Illustrator she brought along… drawing on duel white pads to the delight of screaming kids. the kids all wear uniforms in Ireland and most schools are split up boy and girl at this age.
The exhibit is perfectly placed to gain maximum exposure as people come and go from car to library…
The illustrations are beautifully reproduced and laminated onto board. There will be full wooden frames installed to further enhance the durability of the pictures from passing traffic and curious children. If you like this idea, want to see more of it, want to encourage them or get more information email the Douglas Library in Cork (email@example.com 4924931 / 32), and/or the Douglas Village Shopping Centre (firstname.lastname@example.org) . Say THANKS!
A visiting fan posing in front of the master’s signature….