Thursday, 25 August 2011

Shaun Tan visits Seven Stories

Well, despite a marathon flight over from Melbourne to Edinburgh, there was no sign of fatigue or jet lag from Shaun Tan as he met his first audience at the book festival last night. As ever, everyone was entranced with his story of how he works, the themes of his books and the wonderful miscellaneous stories he willingly offers up. Still full of energy he joined the rest of the Templar team for a late night meal. Pick up at 9.30 am this morning, Wednesday to catch the 10 o clock train down to Newcastle. For Shaun, a treat - as he hasn't been out of London on previous visits to the UK - so a chance to catch the stunning scenery on the journey south, through Berwick on Tweed. We were met at Newcastle by Alison Gwynn from Seven Stories who took us to the centre's special collection depository. A quick coffee and a choccie biscuit and then we were being shown amazing original artwork and notebooks by Edward Ardizzone right through to Polly Dunbar's work. Onwards to the Seven Stories building itself and a quick tour round the current Anthony Browne exhibition before getting ready for the event itself.

To a packed room, Shaun started his event guiding us through a pictorial description of 'A Day in the Life...of Shaun Tan'. Where letting iguanas out in the morning refers to a part of his normal domestic life before his starts his 'job'. We all sat in wonder as suddenly the little things in our daily lives could be seen in such an extraordinary way if we just make a small 'adjustment' to the familiar. We were further amazed as we were shown pictures Shaun had drawn through his childhood – Star Wars-like spaceships by the age of 12!

The following 60 minutes, we were treated to insights into the creation of The Lost Thing, both book and award winning film. The Arrival and why it didn't need words. The Red Tree and it's ability to be valued by people in many different ways.

A short 'questions and answers' session was following by a very long queue for a unique Shaun Tan signature! Definitely worth the wait!


  1. It was truly a highlight of my year - thank you for giving us a peek behind the scenes.

  2. i'm from wa and (despite being the most exciting place in aus!!!) we don't really get a lot of shaun tan exhibitions or they are too expensive for my slim wallet to bear, so thank you so much for treating me to an insight of what it was like.