Saturday, 25 April 2015

ANZAC Illustrated

When I was in Newcastle recently I made sure I had time to get along to see a special exhibition, Anzac Illustrated, showcasing the work of Australian illustrators and their work on books about war and conflict for children.

Of course April 25 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli and the start of the ANZAC legend. There have been many new books to mark the occasion. Which is good but at times it seems that there are too many to keep up with.

ANZAC Illustrated included many of my favourite illustrators work.

This exhibition celebrates quite unique approaches to creating illustrated books for children on these themes. Tales are told from many perspectives by well-known voices. Illustration mediums and styles are varied and inspiring. There are all sorts of books including picture books for young and old, a graphic novel and illustrated fiction. 

Several illustrators were featured. Greg Holfeld's amazing work on An Anzac Tale (see my review) was featured as the artwork for the exhibition posters. It is particularly striking. And there was a large digital print of the cover artwork as you walked in.

I really love his use of kangaroos as soldiers. It's so visually strong. This interesting choice was explained in the exhibition. 

Click on the photo to enlarge for easier reading. 

I always love seeing glimpses of work in progress. It's so fascinating for a non-artist who has no idea of the process.

There was a large display about several of Mark Wilson's books. I've read a few of his books, and really love his work. 

There were fascinating displays of the research he does for his illustrations.

I just had to search out Digger
(see my review)

Mark Wilson illustrated Jackie French's A Day to Remember (see my review). It was great to see how he did the cover artwork. 

There was only one work from Shaun Tan, an image from his extraordinary book Memorial, which I should probably reread. 

Check out my list of war books for children covering WWI, WWII and other conflicts.

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Thursday, 23 April 2015


I've been meaning to read An Anzac Tale since last year. I love the cover, it's such a strong Australian image. It's so clever, using the kangaroo as a soldier. The cover was featured in the ANZAC Illustrated exhibition that I saw in Newcastle recently, and I knew I would read it for this Anzac Day, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the original Gallipoli landing.

An ANZAC Tale tells the story of two friends, Wally and Roy, Aussie lads who enlist in 1914 soon after war has been declared. They leave their farming lives and ship out in November 1914. They train in Egypt before landing at Gallipoli on Sunday 25 April 1915.

We see the horror of the landing, and the ongoing horror of the trench warfare of the following months. The smell, the disease, the death, the terrible food, the dreadful conditions, the heat and then the cold, the unending death of a campaign that was doomed from the start.

There are 6 great pages of notes at the back of the book. Putting everything in historical context for the reader. Incredible stuff.

Each man carried over 90 pounds (40.8 kilograms) of equipment, along with fixed bayonets and empty gun magazines (silence was to be maintained). When they jumped off their boats into the water, many found themselves up to their waists or armpits; others were pulled under by the weight of their equipment; some drowned, and others were struck down by Turkish bullets. 

Greg Holfeld's illustrations are fantastic. Pen and ink wash drawings on paper and coloured in Photoshop- is a process I can't begin to understand. A note at the beginning of the book explains his inspired choice of animals to represent the different nationalities.

Australia and New Zealand have obvious choices for illustrations using animal representation; the fauna emblems for both countries are also uniquely indigenous. Other nations can be represented by animals that aren't native buy have a symbolic association with the country, such as the British Lion, the Bengal Tiger of India, or cats in Egypt. No such choices were immediately apparent for Turkey. The caracal lynx, from the Turkish word karakulak, meaning 'black ear', was chosen to represent the Turkish soldiers. It has been described as fiercely territorial. 

Find more war books for kids from my list here.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


The 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli on April 25 1915 is just a few days away. Australia and New Zealand particularly still mark this event (I know that at least Turkey and France do too) and of course there is much in the media this week in the lead up to this important Anzac Day on Saturday.

I've been reading some books about Anzac Day this week and particularly wanted to find Mark Wilson's latest book Digger. Digger isn't about the Anzac Campaign, but it is a World War One story.

Matthew lives on a farm in Western Victoria, the farm dog has a litter of pups and he is drawn to Digger straight away. Matthew and Digger form such a bond that Matthew smuggles Digger aboard his troop ship when he leaves the safety of Melbourne for the war in Europe.

Matthew will become a stretcher-bearer on the fields of France and Belgium, and Digger is right there with him. Digger helps catch rats in the trenches and becomes a favourite among the men and helped cheer the injured soldiers.

Matthew knew it cheered the men up when they saw Digger. It was as if the little dog reminded them of home, or just gave them a glimmer of hope. 

I saw the fabulous ANZAC Illustrated exhibition in Newcastle recently, which featured  Mark Wilson's incredible work, and the fascinating research he puts into his books. Mark uses an amazing mix of drawing and painting to illustrate Digger, a story told by a third person narrator, and also with the letters that Matthew sends to his sister Anna at home.

Mark Wilson is an extraordinary talent. He has illustrated many books, such as Jackie French's A Day to Remember (see my review), but I think I prefer the many books he writes and illustrates himself. Digger's story was inspired by the true story of Driver, a puppy smuggled onto an Australian troop ship in World War One. I'm always amazed at the stories told in children's books, Mark Wilson does not shy away from highlighting the tragedy of war (in words or pictures) in Digger- or any of his other books.

Find more war books for kids from my list here.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Forage 2015

I can't believe that Forage has been and gone for another year already. 2015 is the fifth Forage, a highlight of FOOD Week in Orange. It's a totally great event, and we've had 4 years of fabulous, dry autumnal weather. 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014. Forage is bigger and better every year. 2015 was something special.

Much rain was predicted this year.
90% chance of 10-20 mm.
And it started raining just as the first buses arrived!
But it was only a shower, and didn't last that long. 
The ladies were mostly kitted out in dress wellies anyway

Highland Heritage's
5 Spice Pork with Crispy Salad

Foragers are an intrepid lot and don't let a little shower
dampen their enthusiasm.

The day was atmospheric and glorious. 

It's always wonderful walking between the vines

With so many delicious pit stops along the way. 

Lolli Redini's
Chicken Rillette with Orchard Fruit Compote

Stepping Stone's Minnestrone
with Trunkey Creek Spec

The Forage ahead. 

Crowds of enthusiastic Foragers build with every bus arrival.

I certainly did. 

Agrestic Grocer's
Wild Mushroom Pie
warming and perfect for the day

Sadly I wasn't drinking but did have the
occasional sip. 
Bite Riot Cherry Juice is good!

Beautiful new vistas with every step. 

Edwena Mitchell's
Beef Shin Braised in Coconut Cream
was sensational.
As was
Hand Pressed Shiraz Sorbet

The rain had held off for long enough
and was soon bucketing down.
Most people had had enough wine that they didn't
really care.

But now I long for a Gustav Klimt brolly too...
It was a wet end to a great day. 

But Kate Brack's
Chocolate and Red Wine Cake
with Roasted Pear and Cinnamon Cream
was Exceptional.
 I didn't care that it was raining. 

Second Mouse cheese to finish
And then a wet and soggy dash to the bus home. I can't wait to see what Forage 2016 will bring...

Edwena Mitchell published her marvellous beef shin recipe on Facebook and is happy for me to share it with you here. I think I need to try this at home. It would be easy to make a half recipe, although so delicious you'll probably want the full one. 

The Braised Shin Beef was quite well received so herewith the recipe, adapted from a Gourmet Traveller Fare Exchange recipe:
2 kg shin beef, don't remove the casings, just cut it up into largish chunks
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 tab pepper
1/2 tab dark brown sugar
1 tab Herbies Chinese 5 Spice mix
1 or 2 green chillis
2" piece ginger grated
6 big fat cloves garlic
2 tabs sesame oil
800ml coconut cream
Make a paste with the pepper, sugar, spice mix, ginger, garlic, chilli & sesame oil, mix the paste with meat and soy sauce & marinate for as long as you can (at least 2 days).

Put the meat into good heavy casserole pot with coconut cream & cook at 140 degrees for 4 or 5 hours till very tender.

Serve with rice and:

2 green capsicum
1 Lebanese Cucumber
1/2 bunch radish
1 bunch shallots or 1 Spanish Onion
1/2 bunch coriander
1/2 cup sushi dressing 

Slice capsicum, shallots & radish very finely, pour over sushi dressing 1/2 hr before serving & use Coriander for garnish at serving.

Serves 8 with a bit left over!!
For Forage, the meat was marinating in the soy & spice paste for one month, cryovac'ed, thanks to, Michael Borg from M & J Meats in Orange, my wonderful butcher.

Marinating for a month! No wonder it tasted so amazing. I might need a trip to see Michael this week too. It's been raining ever since Forage ended, and has turned quite wintery.

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