May Gibbs

May Gibbs – her life and works

Date: Thursday 15th April 2021
Time: 1:30 pm to 3 pm
Location: COA Hall 25 Rowe Street Woollahra

Most Australians know May Gibbs’ iconic gumnuts. First introduced in 1913 as illustrations for a magazine story by Ethel Turner, the first book length book of their adventures, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie was published in 1918 selling thousands despite Australia’s relatively small population at the time.

Generations of Australian children have grown up with her charming gumnuts (and not so charming Big Bad Banksia Men). Along with other books about the gumnuts, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie has always remained in print.

However, the gumnuts are only part of May Gibbs works. During her 92 year life she produced many other works including paintings, comic strips*, satirical illustrations, calendars and postcards. Her first published work was at the age of 12 and her last at the age of 90. May Gibbs always considered herself an artist rather than a writer or illustrator.

This course will introduce her remarkable output along with the major events in her life from her birth in England to her last years in Sydney’s Neutral Bay via her childhood in Western Australia.

May Gibbs – her cartoons and comic strips – almost forgotten treasures

Date: Thursday 22nd April 2021
Time: 1:30 pm to 3 pm
Location: COA Hall 25 Rowe Street Woollahra

May Gibbs’ seminal Snugglepot and Cuddlepie was published in 1918 and in the years immediately following several more gumnut books were eagerly devoured by her readers. However before these May Gibbs produced cartoons for a variety of publications in Australia and England.

In August 1924, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie were transformed into Bib and Bub a comic strip first appearing in Adelaide’s Mail and Sydney’s Sunday News. Bib and Bub ran until May Gibbs was 90. She also wrote a second strip – Tiggy Touchwood. Their development is complex as the comic strips illustrations and text were recycled and the format varied from city to city. They also reflect May Gibbs’ interaction with the events and activities around her.

Stewart Reed began his research into May Gibbs’ cartoons and comics when doing research for an exhibition in 2004. With over fifteen years experience he has an unique insight into her life and works.

He has used the wealth of May Gibbs’ material in various collections where there are dozens of boxes of notes, correspondence, original drawings, cuttings and proofs for her comic scripts. Unfortunately some of the original material is no longer extant – an unfortunate by-product of the May’s working methods.

Two hour free parking is available at Westfield Centre, Bondi Junction
Bookings: Not required
Enquiries: Mary Healy-North
Maryhealynorth1@bigpond.com