The idea for Australian Dreams: Picturing our Built World, an exhibition of images of the built environment, came from an unlikely place—the work of wilderness photographer Peter Dombrovskis. Three years ago, the National Library of Australia did an exhibition—Peter Dombrovskis: Journeys Into The Wild—based on its Dombrovskis archive of 3,000 transparencies. Of the 80 works on display, only one showed any signs of human intervention—a faint hint of the city of Hobart in the distance from the top of Mount Wellington.
Australia’s proximity to Antarctica means that its features and history are well recorded within the National Library, Canberra. In photographs, maps, drawings, books, manuscripts and commemorative items we can see our history entwined with the hostile southernmost landmass and nature reserve. Antarctica is the fifth largest continent, it is roughly twice the size of Australia, and its remoteness and extremity has exerted a fascination for many readers of exploration narratives and for antiquarian collectors, such as Rex Nan Kivell.
When I've seen manuscripts of famous books, I’ve thought about the process between that handwritten draft and the paperback I own. I've wondered about how the text was changed by an editor, and the typesetters who carefully set the type. Who was involved in publishing that manuscript? And how much did it cost?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this presentation contains the names, voices and images of deceased people.
I couldn’t have been further away from the water: sitting at a desk in the National Library of Australia Reading Room, my lap-top was humming and I was madly taking photos and writing notes. It was hardly a Saturday evening casting squid jigs off the rocks. And yet this desk job had a decidedly fishy feel.
One morning late last year, five extraordinary watercolour paintings of Australian birds were hung in the Library's Treasures Gallery. They were completed in London in around 1790, by 30-year-old Englishwoman Sarah Stone (c.1760-1844).
‘Before you fairly start this story I should like to give you just a word of warning... Not one of the seven is really good, for the very excellent reason that Australian children never are.’
The Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature exhibition showcases a fascinating portion of the extensive collection of Australian children’s literature in the National Library of Australia. Although the exhibition is not arranged chronologically, but thematically, visitors can learn a great deal about how Australian children’s literature has developed from the mid-nineteenth century to the present by walking through the gallery.
When asked to choose my favourite books from the collection of children’s literature on display in the Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature exhibition at the National Library of Australia, it was like trying to choose my favourite child. With such a rich collection on display, I decided to choose three books that I think are unique to Australia and best represent Australia in Australian children’s literature.
Are We There Yet by Alison Lester