QnA with Gaye Chapman

In the lead up to Scapes, we asked the artists involved some questions and are very happy to share our first responses, from the fascinating Gaye Chapman:

Hi Gaye,
What is the first drawing that you remember doing?

The first drawing I remember doing is a self portrait as ballerina. I am wearing a princess crown-like tiara and dancing on very pointy legs. I embroidered the drawing onto my sleeping doll, Suzon's, cushion (not Susan). I still have the drawing and often include it in my fine art self portraits – and I still have Suzon.
Gaye Chapman Self portrait as a ballerina Portia Geach Prize

Gaye Chapman
Self portrait as a ballerina
Portia Geach Prize

Was there a special book for you growing up, and what was it?

Yes. It was a book about fairies (no author or illustrator named) sent to me by my father's parents in Sydney - who did not share my Mother's progressive child rearing views. My Mother read us poetry rather than bed-time stories, Bellbirds by Henry Kendall and Salt-Water Poems And Ballads, by John Masefield. I am still transported when I open that magical fairy-book; but also when I hear 'I must go down to the sea again', or 'down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling'!
Gaye Champan's Fairy Book circa 1950s

Gaye Champan's Fairy Book circa 1950s

How does it feel to excite young minds and do you consider yourself as a child when creating your images?

It's the most wonderful feeling and I always imagine my reader as an individual sitting up in bed and pouring over every detail of the illustrations; so I like to hide little surprises and give them plenty to see. I do not imagine myself as a child when I am actually illustrating as too many other grown up people keep interfering. But I am a child when I imagine what might be possible to do, and I am a child again mixing paint and making lovely colours.

How does your work keep you young ... or doesn't it?

The work does not keep me young, too many cooks in the broth reminding me I must do my homework. I get very giggly though when I discover a characters real face and body and often say 'hello'. Meeting children once the book is published keeps me young, I get to do a lot of silly things, dress up and jump about a lot and yell. At school I was too dramatic and was always told to "grow up" and "stop showing off", so I particularly encourage children to show off as much as possible and I love not being grown up!

What was the experience seeing your work published in a book for the first time?

I was very proud of the illustrations inside my first real picture book 'Heart of the Tiger' with Glenda Millard, and I still think it is some of my best work. But I didn't get excited then and I never do now, because I always think of what it could have been. 

And lastly, can you let us know what's currently in your CD player/ on your Turntable/ in your Spotify queue?

My starred favourites on Spotify right now are:
"Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" Good Charlotte;
"Hole" album Courtney Love; 
"Nessun dorma" Luciano Pavarotti;
"London Calling" The Clash
and "Superheroes" The Script.

Thanks for taking the time to answer, Gaye!
We can all see Gaye's work at the Scapes opening, 6PM, August 19. See you there.