What do Dick Bruna and James Bond have in common? It took a guided tour of the current Miffy & friends exhibition at the QUT Art Gallery to answer that riddle. Apparently, Mr Bruna's family publishing house called on him to design the covers for a variety of authors, including Ian Fleming and Simenon of Maigret fame.
Sarah, Public Programs Officer at QUT, took a group of Miffy fans around the exhibits and opened our eyes to the storybook nijntje's (little white bunny) background and beginnings. Bruna was a Dad who told bedtime stories to his son, and these transferred easily to the printed and illustrated word. In his brightly illustrated books which immediately appeal to the little folk, Bruna has been greatly influenced by the primary colours and collage cut-outs used by Matisse. You will never see a pink or purple in any of Bruna's Miffy books.
A bonus for Christmas shoppers was the bright commerce available - "Exit through the gift shop" as Banksy's movie entreats us. Available for sale were some inexpensive attractive stocking fillers. I chose the pencil case for an artistic member of the family, a bargain at $8.
Also on display are Australian artworks heavily influenced by Bruna. Carla McCrae has constructed a number of miniatures which reflect various aspects of Bruna's artistic life. Of course, the typewriter dominates. Note the coloured keys. McCrae appreciates the fact that Bruna leaves a lot to the imagination with his simple minimalist drawings of basic shapes and primary colours.
Brian Robinson's linocut in typical Torres Strait Island artistic style also presents a puzzle. How many popular images from literature, gaming and movies can you find hidden in this artwork? What famous painting was his inspiration?
As a septuagenarian, I have become very techno in my old age and the age of Covid. My visit to Miffy & friends presented me with another opportunity to extend this knowledge through an app called Eyejack. This can be used to take advantage of several augmented reality squares strategically placed around the exhibition. These are an integral part of the Day out with Miffy activity geared to younger visitors, but I'm sure the older set will enjoy them also. Two activity sheets are available to guide the munchkins around the exhibits and involve them in the displays. A scavenger hunt will also keep them busy.