Illustration for Gumnut Babies, 1916, May Gibbs

Celebrating 100 years of Gumnut Babies

May Gibbs exhibition at the State Library of NSW

I still have a copy of The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie from my childhood somewhere. What always intrigued me about the collection were May Gibbs’ incredibly charming illustrations depicting native Australian flora and fauna. The rough lines and earthy colours painted a wonderful picture of Australian bushland, the setting for Gibbs’ mythological world.

In a graphic design context, it’s difficult to define what makes Australian design uniquely Australian, but Gibbs’ work was truly reflective of her environment, and indeed she drew inspiration from her childhood adventures playing in bushes around her home in Perth, Western Australia.

It’s been 100 years since the publication of the classic story Gumnut Babies and to celebrate, the State Library of NSW is displaying original and reproduced artwork from Gibbs’ children’s books and other work. The exhibition is free and will run until 26 February 2017.

Coinciding with the anniversary is the release of a “Centenary Edition” of Gumnut Babies from Harper Collins, available now.