Today we popped in and saw the Jeannie Baker “Mirror” exhibition at the Ipswich Art Gallery. We were over on that side of the world and decided that today was as good as any other day for a visit. And boy was it a good day. There was not another soul in the building. We had the whole exhibition to ourselves all afternoon!
The exhibition is based on Jeannie Baker’s recent picture book, “Mirror”. If you don’t know Jeannie Baker’s work you really must get hold of a copy of one of her books. She uses collage as her illustration medium and usually leaves the pictures speak for themselves.
“Mirror” is about two boys, who live in very different cultures, and the similarities they share.
We had tried to purchase a copy of the book before we saw the exhibition but the local bookstore wanted $40 which I refused to pay since I know you can purchase it for less than HALF that price online! It’s a great book but not THAT great!
But luckily there were two copies of the book at the exhibition and no one to share it with so we could sprawl out and appreciate it before viewing the original artworks.
We really enjoyed the quirky layout of the book. The English side opens out like a normal book but the Moroccan story opens out the opposite way just as an Arabic book does..I’m assuming. This layout allowed for lots of comparisons.
What a brilliant idea!
The exhibition also reflected this opposing or mirrored layout.
On the left side of the room was the Australian story going from left to right.
On the right side of the room going from right to left was the Moroccan story.
Each story ended at a mirror. Nifty, huh? We thought so.
We started on the Moroccan side of the room and studied each picture in detail. You have to look closely to see all of the various materials that Jeannie has used. The intricate details are amazing!
(True art critics in the making – check out the poses! No they aren’t staged. That’s how I found them.)
The night time art works were even back lit to give the illusion of night. Clever.
Don’t forget that Arabic is also read from bottom to top as this breakfast preparation scene shows.
Honestly the photos just do not do the artworks justice.
You have to lean in really close and study each of the original pieces. You’ll spend a lot of your visit proclaiming, “Wow! Look at that!”
The gallery has provided a little raised platform all around the room to place the younger children at just the right viewing height.
Never fear little fingers as each piece is enclosed in a nice thick acrylic casing.
My “Mr Computer” just looooved the computer featured in the Moroccan story. The family goes to the market to sell a rug and purchases a computer. While I was studying the intricate details of the collage, Ethan was comparing the computer setups in each story. Oh so typical of my eldest man.
It wasn’t until we moved to the Australian side of the room that we started to notice little stories running through the illustrations. There are so many features in the Australian illustrations – let’s face it, us Aussies have a lot of ‘stuff’ -that we spent ages at each picture hunting for interesting side stories.
As well as recognising the places we knew and had been.
And then we started to notice the links between each story and were dashing – okay not dashing, it was the art gallery remember – back and forth across the room to confirm our hunches. I bet we could look at these pictures a dozen times and see something new each time.
I spent a lot of time just marveling at the three dimensional nature of the artworks. It gives such a sense of reality, as though you are in the picture with them.
The dimensional element was probably my favourite part of the exhibition. The illustrations don’t give the same depth in the books.
I have a much greater appreciation of Jeannie’s work after seeing her original artworks.
To complement the exhibit the gallery had a collage area for the children to try their hand at their own collages.
Of course my little men set right to work.
They spent ages creating. Another benefit of having the whole art gallery to ourselves.
Ethan created a flying carpet and a car demonstrating two different modes of transport
…and Brayden…as can be expected from my ‘Star Wars’ obsessed child…created a light saber fight scene.
So if you’re in the vicinity of the Ipswich Art Gallery before the 2nd October, I would definitely recommend a visit to the “Mirror” exhibition.
If you’re going to make a day of it and drive a long distance to see it, maybe stop in and spend some time at the Ipswich Nature Centre, Queens Park and Denmark Hill Conservation Park as well. These are some of our favourite Ipswich highlights…other than visiting Grandma and Grandad of course.