May Gibbs exhibition

May Gibbs article.jpgAustralia’s most famous babies visit Kiama Library

It’s 100 years since May Gibbs’ adorable characters found their way into the homes and hearts of Australians and Kiama Library Service is celebrating with a free travelling display featuring May Gibbs’ iconic artwork.

May Gibbs was Australia's first full-time, professionally trained children's book author and illustrator and the display features reproductions of some of her most beloved characters including the gumnut babies and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

According to State Library of NSW Senior Curator Alison Wishart: ‘Generations of Australians have fond memories of growing up with the gumnut babies and their friends and passed the books they read as children down to their own children.’

The gumnut babies became an instant hit when they first appeared on 5 December 1916 in a booklet published by Angus & Robertson and the gum-blossom babies soon followed.

The display explores May Gibbs’ early work, the characters of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Ragged Blossom and Little Obelia, her process and examples of how the war influenced her work.

‘May Gibbs was a keen environmentalist and was also fiercely patriotic’, Ms Wishart said. ‘Not many people know that during the First World War she designed a series of postcards and bookmarks featuring her popular characters to send to the soldiers overseas.’

The display will be on show at Kiama Library from 23 May until 7 June.

Illustration credit: May Gibbs Archive, State Library of NSW © The Northcott Society and Cerebral Palsy Alliance