Bringing literature to life

Girl On Wire accompanied by Elise Hurst's illustrations. Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Jed Lanyon

Coinciding with the Yarra Valley Writers Festival, YAVA Gallery and Arts Hub has released its latest exhibition titled, RE-COVERED.

YAVA’s gallery director Dakini Maddock explained the meaning behind RE-COVERED.

“RE-COVERED was set up by Andrew Chew (YAVA’s outgoing director) in response to the Yarra Valley Writers Festival,” she said. “I think it’s nice to have that cross pollination and be mutually supportive of each other.

“Brook (Powell) does amazing work with her partner Michael Vietch and they do a lot to support the writing element of the arts in the Yarra Valley and it’s a really nice crossover and collaboration between the visual arts and the written word.”

The exhibition features illustrations by artist Elise Hurst, who is the illustrator of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman and Girl on Wire by Lucy Estela.

“We’re very excited about it,” Ms Maddock said. “She’s a Melbourne based illustrator and her work is very beautiful and moving. Some of her books are quite profound. When I read Girl on Wire for the first time I actually cried because it’s a great story for everybody, even though it’s a children’s book, I thought it was very inspiring in overcoming fears.

“Especially as the theme for the writer’s festival is all about resilience. Having the year we’ve had with Covid, we’ve all had to draw deeply on that resilience.”

Ms Hirst’s art sits alongside works from 18 of YAVA’s member artists, which are inspired by a reimagining of their favourite book, poem or book cover.

“I hope it allows people to see deeper their relationship with literature. I think literature creates pictures in your head and we’re fortunate enough to have a lot of talented artists who can actually draw that picture from the story.

“I think people will go away with thinking about literature in a slightly different way and maybe going back and reflecting on their own favourite books. Maybe it will inspire them to start creating works of art the next time they sit down with a good book.”

Warburton photographer Suzanne Phoenix produced an image inspired by the work of fellow Warburton writer Maya Ward and her novel Comfort of Water: A River Pilgrimage.

Ms Phoenix described the book in beng “instrumental” in her moving to Warburton.

“That’s a really nice pairing and they’re both speaking at the Yarra Valley Writers Festival,” Ms Maddock said.

RE-COVERED will be exhibiting at YAVA Gallery and Arts Hub from 8 June to 1 August.