An internationally renowned illustrator, artist David Elliot’s illustrations for The Whistling Bull at the Ashburton Art Gallery, pay tribute to Jack Lasenby (1931 – 2019) the author of more than 30 children’s books, eleven of them illustrated by Elliot.
The Whistling Bull serves as a survey of Lasenby’s imaginative writing, an artist whose formal public recognition includes the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary achievement for Fiction in 2014. In addition to Elliot’s own illustrations for The Whistling Bull the exhibition also draws from the Ashburton Art Gallery’s permanent collection of Elliot’s works on paper on long-term loan from the artist and the Ashburton Museum/Historical Society’s archives.
The exhibition features a number of illustrations for Lasenby’s books, including early ideas in drawings that document and reveal aspects of Elliot’s working processes as an illustrator and his relationship with Lasenby and own practice as a writer of children’s books. The gallery describes Elliot’s illustrations as reflecting ‘the fantastical nature of Jack’s writing. Whether depicting events from the stories or imagining his own scenes out of Jack’s creative ferment, David’s drawings illustrate both the humour and the poignancy of the books.’
Growing up in Ashburton, Elliot graduated from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1978, and initially worked as a designer for a company manufacturing interior designs for hotels, prior to travelling overseas. In 1979 he worked at the transit base for ‘Operation Deep Freeze’ flights at Scott Base on Ross Island. (He acknowledges that this did include ‘a few drawings for scientists).
This contributed to supporting further travel through Australia, South East Asia and then to Europe and the United Kingdom, where he was employed as Gatekeeper at the Edinburgh Zoo, contributing to his now long-standing role as an artist and illustrator, with a dedicated interest in animals as subjects for his work. The appearance of animals at Edinburgh zoo maintaining a low presence during the day yet coming out at night and making a sudden appearance and included; badgers, foxes, owls, squirrels and rats. Collectively, they were an important influence for Elliot. ‘It was here that I first started to take the idea of illustration seriously, putting together the beginnings of a portfolio.’ (For more on Elliot see: David Elliot | Redwall Wiki | Brian Jacques and Redwall Information | Fandom)
David Elliot, The Whistling Bull
Ashburton Art Gallery, 327 West Street
8 June – 17 August
- David Elliot, The Whistling Bull, mixed media on paper