Featured Illustration – ‘Feeding Time’ by Shaun Tan

As those of you who have been through the Front Office recently will know, we have recently launched a new Art Partnership with Books Illustrated in Melbourne.  This wonderful organisation makes prints and the originals of many Australian children’s illustrators available to the public, and we’re pleased to say that Canberra Montessori School is their latest mini-exhibition space!  Each semester we will swap the prints over, so there will always be new ones available to enjoy.  It’s a great way to start a conversation about art and literature with people of any age, and they are available for purchase – in fact, we’ve already had several sales!  All proceeds do, of course, go back to supporting our school.

We’ll feature each illustration and the accompanying book in turn on our website, and we’re kicking off with Feeding Time from ‘The Lost Thing’, written and illustrated by Shaun Tan.

Illustration of The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

‘Feeding Time’ by Shaun Tan from ‘The Lost Thing’ (Lothian Books) . Giclee print from the original oil and acrylic paint on paper. Print Price $195


This is a fabulous book with a million and one small, extra details that children will love finding as they read it – in particular, keep an eye out for the arrows. It’s the story of a boy who, while searching for additions to his bottle top collection, finds a strange and unusual creature on the beach. And not just any creature – a gigantic, red, half-coffee pot, half-crab-octopus organism. It intrigues him, and he decides it is lost. The story then unfolds as the boy tries to work out where this creature belongs. What makes this book particularly fascinating is the wonderful contrast between the heavily industrialised, mechanised and organised world that the boy lives in and the colourful, organic-yet-mechanical weirdness of the Lost Thing. In the illustration on display at the school, the Boy has hidden the Lost Thing in his shed. After many attempts, the Boy finally works out that the Lost Thing is hungry for Christmas decorations.

Shaun Tan later adapted this book to become an animation that then went onto win many, many awards, including the 2011 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.

What’s great about the illustrative style in this particular book is not only the classic Shaun Tan style, but also the detailed use of collage and photographic elements. In addition, Shaun Tan used contemporary Australian artworks as the foundation for many of his scenes in this book. Compare the illustration of The Lost Thing walking down a street with John Bracks’ famous Collins St, 5pm. Or the cover illustration with Jeffrey Smart’s Cahill Expressway.

Come and see Feeding Time, and all our other prints for this semester, by visiting the Front Office.  And if you’d like to order a print for yourself or a loved one, please complete our order form and return it to the Front Office.