Elaine Forrestal

Small Acts of Kindness

Cover of In Flander’s Fields by Norman Jorgensen and Brian Harrison-Lever

In order to show how small acts of kindness can have a profound and lasting effect on the world, the team at Spare Parts Puppet Theatre has devised a very different school holiday experience.

Using as a starting point the story of the spontaneous Christmas Truce in 1914, which took place in no-mans-land between the German and English lines, participants (there is essentially no audience in this show) choose between four different ‘pathways’. Each pathway takes them through the Shipwreck Gallery in Fremantle. On their journey they are invited to explore various installations, some static, some alive, and reach a point where they can engage with the actors and volunteers to make soup, knit a sock, or wade through a muddy trench – helping each other along the way and hopefully, in the end, finding the missing sock of WWI soldier, Tom Vickers.

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre Director, Philip Mitchell, has been developing this idea for four years. Having been involved in one of the two Preview/Rehearsals, I can see that the potential for this complex show to go off the rails is enormous. On the other hand it could develop into something exciting and uniquely satisfying. Knowing the creative abilities of the Spare Parts team as I do, I am confident that all will be well. After these two weeks at the Shipwreck Gallery the show is booked to go on tour to Geraldton and Albany, so plenty of opportunities to do the fine tuning and, after all, nothing ventured, nothing gained….

Well done Spare Parts. Break a leg. 

How could signing books be dangerous?

Normand Jorgensen, Dianne wolfer, Elaine Forrestal

Signing books for my readers is always a great joy. I get to meet them, chat to them. Sometimes I can even tell them a bit about the book and the dangers the characters face in the story. I don’t expect any ‘danger’ to escape from the pages and perch itself behind me. But that’s what happened.

On Sunday Dianne Wolfer, Norman Jorgensen and I were signing books for people who had attended our West Australian Storytellers session at The Literature Centre. It was a beautiful sunny day and our signing tables were set up on the grass just outside the marquee where we had been speaking. Our sessions had gone well. We had talked about the different ways each of us goes about finding a character, or how they find us. Then we discussed the process of getting to know our character, finding their individual voice and bringing them back to life. Sometimes the story of how the book came about is almost as interesting as the story told inside it.

The three of us were happily signing books when one of our fans asked if she could take a photo. Her son came around to our side of the table and stood between Norman and me. She looked through the lens of her camera and started laughing. Then she showed us the photo she had taken.


Stories in Light and Shade

We are Between Earth and Sea, by Masayuki Sugiyama for Sculptures By the Sea 2018

Every year Sculptures by the Sea comes to Cottesloe Beach. And every year the exhibition is full of stories.

After the immediate visual impact of each sculpture, whether it be surprise, delight, revulsion or disbelief, we are drawn to explore it. We examine its shape, its colours, the way it moves. In some cases we are given permission to touch the surface, to feel the texture and examine the way the light falls on it and the way it sits in relation to its temporary home by the sea. Inevitably we look for answers to our questions of how, what, when, where and why? Just as we do with the stories we read. Because the sculptures are so arresting visually they draw us in to their world, stimulate our imagination and spark off other stories for us. Ones which may, or may not, have anything to do with the artist’s printed story about materials, method and time spent in creating this particular work.

The best story I found from this year’s exhibition links back to last year when a 5 year old boy from Perth became so intrigued by a sculpture by Japanese artist Masayuki Sugiyama that he wrote a letter and posted it, via the organisers, to the artist’s home in Japan. The boy was fascinated by the shadows thrown onto the sand by Masayuki’s sculpture and wanted to know more about it. Masayuki Sugiyama replied, of course, and not just in words sent through the post. Inspired by the boy’s delight in his work he made a new sculpture and entered it in the 2018 exhibition. Elegantly constructed, with strong clean lines wrought in stainless steel, this new work is titled We are Between Sun and Earth. Viewed from different angles it could be an abstract cow, a crescent moon, a cycle helmet with a floating plume. Examining it at ground level, who would guess that once a day the shadows thrown by these two pieces of twisted steel would form two perfect circles on the sand?

I can’t wait for the next collection of stories created by remarkable artists from around the world.

Australian Storytellers Festival

Flyer for Australian Storytellers Festival, 8th April 2018

Gone (thank goodness) are the days when the majority of the books Australians read and the stories presented to us on TV came from overseas.

Actually ‘goodness’, whoever or whatever that is, had nothing to do with it. Lesley Reece, on the other hand, has had a great deal to do with what we read now and with making our own West Australian and Australian writers and illustrators known to the world.

On Sunday 8th April she will be doing one of the things she is best at. One of the most important parts of what makes The Literature Centre such a vibrant and lively place. Lesley will gather us all together and give us the opportunity to tell our stories. We will be giving some insights into how we work, discussing our craft, reading from our books and making pictures digitally and on paper. It will be a very big day and, no doubt, a lot of funny things will happen – leading to even more stories.

Hope to see you there.

The Literature Centre: 25 years and still travelling on

Norman Jorgensen, Moira Court (Illustrator) Jan Nichols in front of the exhibition, at The Literature Centre, of Miss Lewellyn-Jones by Elaine Forrestal

The Literature Centre is celebrating 25 years of nurturing, inspiring and educating writers, illustrators and students from all over Australia and beyond. Western Australia is often said to have the largest and most prolific group of authors and illustrators in the country. There is no doubt in my mind that it’s true and that, without The Literature Centre, it would not be so.

As a full-time author I would not have survived without the professional stimulation and support of the Director,  Lesley Reece, and her dedicated team. Many of the workshops I do in schools and libraries come about, directly or indirectly, because The Literature Centre exists and people contact them for advice. My books are available in the TLC Bookshop and I regularly sign copies for individuals and for the bookshop shelves. Not only that, the moral support, the shoulder to cry on and the venue for Book Launches and other celebrations are equally important in my struggle to earn a living as an author.

The Literature Centre is the brainchild and life’s work of Lesley Reece. But she never forgets to acknowledge her dedicated team of workers and her close working relationships with the Children’s Book Council WA Branch, WritingWA and SCBWI West. The Centre is a constant light shining in an often dark and treacherous world. The quality and integrity of its work is never compromised and it deserves the highest praise for bringing the joys of good literature to so many people of all ages.

Here’s to the first 25 years of The Literature Centre! Long may it survive and flourish.