South Perth celebrates national treasure May Gibbs with a Snugglepot and Cuddlepie 100th anniversary exhibition

Lynn O'Hara is the President of the City of South Perth Historical Society. Photo: David Baylis
Lynn O'Hara is the President of the City of South Perth Historical Society. Photo: David Baylis

THE work of national treasure May Gibbs is being celebrated in South Perth, where she grew up, to mark the 100th anniversary of her most recognised characters, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

Gibbs’ iconic stories are brought to life as part of the South Perth Historical Society’s Snugglepot and Cuddlepie 100 Not Out exhibition at the Heritage House Cultural Centre until February 24, 2019.

A Snugglepot and Cuddlepie exhibition is taking place at Heritage House in South Perth. Photo: David Baylis

The exhibition includes more than 50 pieces of original artwork from the City of South Perth’s collection and the Gibbs family, including 14 items that have never been seen before.

Society president Lynn O’Hara said Gibbs’ work, inspired by Australia’s native fauna, had captured the hearts of countless generations and continued to do so 100 years on.

She said having the exhibition in South Perth was poignant as the Gibbs family settled in the City in 1889, with May growing up between South Perth and London, where she went to art school.

May’s great niece Julie Gibbs, who helped set up the exhibition, said the renowned illustrator-author was considered a “genius” by the family.

“May was a national treasure and a trailblazer,” she said. “She was a naturalist, conservationist and involved in the suffragette movement in London. As a woman who moved to Sydney to have a career, May fought to get what she wanted published the way she wanted and to get the recognition she deserved.

May Gibbs’ great great nieces and nephew Caitlin, Elysha, Jaxon and Angelique.

“I hope the next generation is equally charmed with her work.”

The display coincides with the launch of the 100th anniversary edition of the book, on sale at the centre.

May Gibbs’ great nieces Genevieve Gibbs, Susan Pantall and Julie Gibbs.