An exhibition of the original artwork from several of Australia's best loved children's books has opened at the University of Canberra.
Featuring illustrations from Graeme Base, Bob Graham, Shaun Tan and Kerry Argent, among others, the exhibition is a rare insight into the creative process behind children's books.
Curated by Dr Belle Alderman, Emeritus Professor of Children's Literature, and the director of the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature at UC, Imagine If provides the opportunity to view these detailed works up close.
The artworks, as well as several manuscripts, storyboards and posters from Children's Book Week are all part of the collection of the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature.
"What we want to do is share the riches of Australian children's literature with everyone," Dr Alderman said.
The centre's collection has grown over 40 years to include some 30,000 books, as well as illustrations, manuscripts, photographs, reviews and research files.
Earlier this year a rare original painting of gumnut babies by May Gibbs was donated to the centre.
"Unless we can show these things people will never learn about the riches of this creative process," Dr Aldermann said.
"We hope we're fostering the development of creativity, encouraging the next generation of authors, designers, illustrators, by showing them the amazing things that you can create.
"The imagination that goes into these artworks takes your breath away."
Other illustrators included in the exhibition include Freya Blackwood, Ron Brooks, Neil Curtis, Kylie Dunstan, Vivienne Goodman, Peter Gouldthorpe, Brian Harrison-Lever, Elizabeth Honey, Patricia Mullins, Narelle Oliver, Matt Ottley, Gregory Rogers, Anne Spudvilas, Jane Tanner and Steven Woolman.
Bob Graham has created an original artwork which the centre is raffling to support the exhibition, available for $5 a ticket from the centre and at the exhibition.
Imagine If runs until August 30, taking in Children's Book Week which runs from August 18-25. This year's theme is Escape to Everywhere. Book Week has been running since 1945.
Dr Alderman hopes the exhibition showcases the work of the centre which had its origins back in 1974, when the then president of the ACT branch of the CBCA Lu Rees donated her personal collection of more than 500 books. Originally known as the Lu Reeves Archives, it moved into the then Canberra College of Advanced Education Library in 1979 and in 2015 became known as the national centre.
"We would love to have a rich beautiful place where we could have theatre performances of say Jackie French's wombat books, a place where kids could come and watch curators working on art, where we could have a children's book shop, a little spot where people could have a coffee and talk about books, art rooms and places for people to read, artists in residence and research capabilities.
"That's my dream, we're working to make it happen."
The exhibition is open until August 30, 2017, Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm, in the Clive Price Suite, upstairs in the Refectory, at the University of Canberra.