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Shaun Tan's 'The Lost Thing' Exhibition

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by Brydie Wright (subscribe)
I'm a children's book author and freelance writer. Check out www.brydiewright.com for more about "Daddy and the World's Longest Poo" and my family lifestyle blogs, articles and book reviews. https://www.facebook.com/DaddyandtheWorldsLongestPoo/
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Acclaimed Picture Book Turned Oscar Winning Film
The key to any picture book's appeal, is the quality of its illustrations. A touring exhibition from Books Illustrated brings us one of the best modern examples of this, in Shaun Tan: The Lost Thing. It's currently in residence at Hurstville Museum & Gallery until 16 July.

Shaun Tan The Lost Thing Exhibition, Shaun Tan, The Lost Thing, Books Illustrated, Hurstville Museum & Gallery, Passion Pictures Australia, picture book, author, illustrator, family exhibition, art exhibition, community exhibition
The Hurstville Museum & Gallery is a beautiful creative space in the heart of the community


A visit to this unique community space, operated by Georges River Council, is a treat in itself. It's of Tudor-esque design, with a colourful history, from its days as a doctor's practice built in 1929, rugby clubhouse in the 60s, theatre restaurant in the 80s and its modern day incarnation as local cultural hub since 2003.

The Museum and Gallery's curator, Dr Birgit Heilmann, is delighted to host this exhibition from Melbourne, celebrating the artistic excellence of multi award-winning Australian author and illustrator Shaun Tan. Heilmann says it brings a great opportunity for the local Hurstville community (and its visitors) to view the original artwork of a well-known literary figure.

Shaun Tan The Lost Thing Exhibition, Shaun Tan, The Lost Thing, Books Illustrated, Hurstville Museum & Gallery, Passion Pictures Australia, picture book, author, illustrator, family exhibition, art exhibition, community exhibition
A copy of The Lost Thing is on display with original sketches by Shaun Tan


The Lost Thing is a lauded picture book published in 2000 by Lothian Books. It is known for its dystopian image of a futuristic Australian city and the conundrum faced by a young boy who finds a lost and unwanted 'pet' of very strange proportions. The exhibition follows The Lost Thing's journey from a series of incredibly detailed book sketches by Tan, to its development as an animated feature by Passion Pictures Australia. This cycle took 10 years. The author/illustrator's tireless passion for the project was significantly rewarded in 2011, with an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film at the 83rd Academy Awards.

Shaun Tan The Lost Thing Exhibition, Shaun Tan, The Lost Thing, Books Illustrated, Hurstville Museum & Gallery, Passion Pictures Australia, picture book, author, illustrator, family exhibition, art exhibition, community exhibition
The Lost Thing short film can be viewed by visitors to the exhibition


This is an inspirational story and as a picture book author myself, I have the utmost respect for the artistry required by Tan and the film animators. The exhibition shares the secrets of The Lost Thing's tradecraft, through the original samples on display, including drawings, paintings and experimentations with artistic textures.

Shaun Tan The Lost Thing Exhibition, Shaun Tan, The Lost Thing, Books Illustrated, Hurstville Museum & Gallery, Passion Pictures Australia, picture book, author, illustrator, family exhibition, art exhibition, community exhibition
The exhibition is designed to be interactive with questions tailored for different age groups


Books Illustrated has designed the display to be as interactive as possible and Hurstville Museum & Gallery is offering Creative Public Programs for kids, adults and seniors. For example, there are 'Tactile' and 'Highlights' Tours available for mature visitors and art classes and story time sessions for the kids. And don't miss a special morning on Saturday 17 June with storyteller Deborah Kelly and a craft station to entertain the children. Most of these optional tours and activities are free or charging minimal entry, in the spirit of a community-focussed exhibition. And though open most days, it is advisable to plan your visit ahead, as the museum requires bookings for some activities. (Check the website or call for details).

Shaun Tan The Lost Thing Exhibition, Shaun Tan, The Lost Thing, Books Illustrated, Hurstville Museum & Gallery, Passion Pictures Australia, picture book, author, illustrator, family exhibition, art exhibition, community exhibition
The artwork timeline devotes a section to Utopia - the 'home of lost things'


I don't mind admitting that I was a relative newcomer to Shaun Tan's work when I visited this exhibition and I valued the skilful curation which takes a timeline approach to The Lost Thing's journey from book to film. Artworks are grouped meaningfully and if you follow chronologically, you will be well rewarded at the end by a viewing of the short film itself.

I don't think you have to be a Shaun Tan fan to visit and enjoy this self-contained exhibition but even if you don't arrive as a convert, expect that you might leave as one, such is the excellence of his craft. An insightful exhibition indeed.
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*Brydie Wright was invited as a guest
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Why? Showcase of art from acclaimed Australian book and its film adaptation
When: 22 April to 16 July 2017 (Tues - Sat 10am - 4pm and Sun 2pm - 5pm)
Phone: (02) 9330 6444
Where: Hurstville Museum & Gallery, 14 MacMahon Street, Hurstville 2220
Cost: Most exhibition events are free. Some activities have small cover charges.
Your Comment
Great Article Brydie, you have convinced me to go! What age kids would enjoy this exhibition the most?
by My Splendid Family (score: 1|52) 42 days ago
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