Dromkeen Open Day and the John Barrow Collection

Dromkeen lives! The wonderful Bernadette and Tony have brought Dromkeen back to life after it was sold 18 months ago. It’s looking grand. The first exhibition is this one – The John Barrow Collection – curated by Books Illustrated (Ann and Ann).

John Barrow was a teacher and principal and picture book art collector and upon his death, he willed the collection to Books Illustrated. This is the first time this very extensive collection of picture book art from the 80s, 90s and 00s has been on show, and it’s a ripper!

The trees are still here.

And the view from the new chook house is amazing. Get yourself there for a look. Dromkeen is open Thursday to Sunday 10 – 4 pm.

New beginnings

What’s the connection between these two images?
The first is Grandma Poss from Possum Magic.
The second is Queen’s Hall, part of the original building of the State Library of Victoria.

Grandma Poss has most recently been resident in the gardens of Dromkeen, a wonderful place for immersion in children’s literature, particularly the art of children’s literature.

Sadly, Dromkeen is for sale.
Fortunately, the SLV has become the new custodian of the amazing collection of original picture book art that was housed there.
Even more fortunately, the SLV is interested in continuing the work of Dromkeen, that of bringing readers and creators together.

On Wednesday, writers, illustrators and library experts gathered to begin the discussion about just how to keep alive some of the Dromkeen programs, and how to shape and develop them in the future.

Stay posted.


ps Our meeting on Wednesday was in this glorious space, Queen’s Hall.
pps Grandma Poss is now in Melbourne .

Last Friday was the Spring meeting of the Victorian SCBWI group. We had two member speakers (both illustrators) Marjory Gardner and Andrew Plant – and a guest speaker, Kaye Keck who is the Director of Dromkeen. Usually we hold these meetings on Saturday afternoon and this was our trial of a Friday night alternative.

Marjory and Andrew inspired us with their passion and their experience and then once more with the examples of their work. It’s fantastic to hear how others work, how they started, how they continue. It’s also interesting to learn of the myriad pathways into our industry, Marjory through Graphic Design, Andrew through Zoology.

We build in a long break in the middle to facilitate that wonderful beast ‘networking’. Call it what you will, there’s a chance to catch up with familar faces, match faces to known names, and to meet new people. At this meeting we had visitors from NSW and New Zealand and a medical illustrator in addition to mostly familiar faces. And sometimes, as occured this time, attendees happen upon people they’ve known in a ‘previous life’.

Kaye Keck spoke about Dromkeen, wonderful house and gallery in Riddell’s Creek, just out of Melbourne, and their collection of children’s picture book art. The collection includes more than 7000 items and includes sketches, roughs, dummy books, storyboards as well as finished artwork. Kaye brought some amazing miniatures (detailed dummy books, sometimes in colour) that stand as art pieces in their own right. Dromkeen is well worth a visit, with sculptures scattered around the grounds and galleries inside. Kaye also mentioned they are establishing links with ‘Seven Stories’ in Newcastle UK and the Eric Carle Musuem in the US.

…and the point of the pic above? None really. I just like it.