Small Things exhibition of original drawings on at John Curtin Gallery


Lynette Tregonning and John Curtin Gallery director Chris Malcolm look at illustrations from Small Things. Picture: Will Russell www.communitypix.com.au   d474209
Lynette Tregonning and John Curtin Gallery director Chris Malcolm look at illustrations from Small Things. Picture: Will Russell www.communitypix.com.au d474209

THE John Curtin Gallery will present an exhibition of original drawings from the graphic novel Small Things.

The award-winning book was created by Curtin alumna and graphic illustrator Mel Tregonning.

The exhibition coincides with Mental Health Week, October 7 to 14, as Mel took her own life after battling depression in 2014.

Perth-born artist Shaun Tan drew the final three pages to complete the book the family was determined to see finished and Small Things was published by Allen & Unwin in September last year.

“In the beginning she used to drive us mad, always wanting to photograph us to prepare the initial drawings for the book,” Mel’s mum Lynette Tregonning said.

“She was meticulous; she wanted to get the details and composition just right. She worked on the novel for about six years, starting with the photographs and even creating a draft for the publishers, all the while working full-time as an illustrator.

She said the family was delighted the exhibition was at John Curtin Art Gallery.

“It’s really one of the most important places for the works to be shown as she absolutely loved her time at Curtin,” she said.

“She made many friends here and was very involved at the art school.”

Small Things won the 2016 Librarians’ Choice Award, the Gold Ledger Award this year and it was shortlisted for the Crichton Award for New Illustrators 2017.

There are no words in the book but its black-and-white drawings feature a young boy who struggles to shake the monsters that follow him everywhere, but it also reveals help is never far away.

John Curtin Gallery director Chris Malcolm said art therapy had long been recognised as a way to help improve wellbeing.

“These works on show speak on many levels,” he said.

“I know it has had a profound effect on teachers and mental health professionals who see the educational potential to use Small Things as a tool to launch into many topics of discussion and study.”

There will be a mental health panel discussion on October 10 to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

The panel will include Mel’s sister, Violet Tregonning.

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