MOIRA Court was motivated to write and illustrate her latest picture book Antarctica for her niece Winnie to right a wrong.
“I noticed that there was far too much merchandise around with penguins and polar bears put together,” Court, of Kalamunda, said.
“Or penguins and igloos, or penguins and arctic foxes. All cute but very incorrect.”
Working in her home studio, Court brings Antarctica to life in the Fremantle Press book for three to five-year-olds, combining counting with lyrical prose and amazing artwork.
The story concept came first and then the illustrations.
“I used a variety of printmaking techniques to create the illustrations, which included screen printing with paper stencils, block prints carved from lino, collagraphs made from food packaging and woodcuts utilising off-cuts of marine ply,” she said.
“I combined these techniques with collage, and used pieces of old and faulty screen prints, lino prints and woodcuts.
“Most turned out ok after the first attempt, but usually after adding more layers and tweaking than I initially expected.
“The most troublesome illustration was the southern right whales where I did the background about four times before I was happy with it.
“My favourite Antarctic animal to illustrate was the emperor penguins; I love the shape of them and their plumage.”
Court did not get to travel to Antarctica to research her book and mainly found inspiration in BBC Frozen Planet: A World Beyond Imagination by Alastair Fothergill and Vanessa Berlowitz borrowed from her local library.
“I also used information from the Australian Antarctic Division website and other nuggets of information from a myriad of other websites and wildlife books,” she said.
“My favourite Antarctic fact is that Antarctica is a desert. There is barely any rainfall throughout the year, and an area called the Dry Valleys hasn’t had any rain for two million years.”
Court said Antarctica’s enormous effect on the world’s climate and oceans was just one reason it was important for children to learn about the cold continent that had no permanent human residents.
“It also has a fascinating and diverse amount of animals that live there and only there,” she said.
“And the amazing landscape with its buried secrets. There is nowhere else like it.”
Antarctica is available now.