Images and stories Australian children grew up with and heard each bedtime are off the bookshelves, out of storage and into sight once more.
Now the largest and most noteworthy collection of original framed artworks from Australian children's literature is set to go on display in Canberra as part of a new exhibition by the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature (formerly the Lu Rees Archives).
The Seeing Stories exhibition features works from 10 artists, including Leigh Hobbs, author and illustrator of Old Tom and Horrible Harriet; Julie Vivas, who illustrated Possum Magic by Mem Fox; and Terry Denton, known for his collaboration with Andy Griffiths for Just Tricking and Just Stupid.
Dr Belle Alderman, director of the centre, said the children's art told its own story.
"The words tell the story but the pictures have a resonance that words don't always have," she said.
"They tell perhaps multiple stories."
Dr Alderman said the exhibition captured an important time for Australian children's books.
It was "the very beginning of a bubbling and fermenting of ideas and styles", she said.
She said people would recognise stories and images from their childhood when they entered the exhibition.
The artworks are part of the John Barrows Collection, which consists of more than 130 pieces in total.
They were collected from 1980 to 2005 by teacher and principal John Barrows.
Over 40 pieces were chosen to exhibit and it was important to cover the 25-year timespan of the collection.
"We wanted to showcase a small portion of the gems," Dr Alderman said.
The idea was to show the diversity of styles and media used by artists across their careers.
Dr Alderman's favourite piece is from the book Grandad's Magic, by author and illustrator Bob Graham. His simple drawings conveyed a lot to children without words.
"I love that he's able to tell the story with just the minimal amount of effort," she said.
There is space within the gallery for children to create their own artworks, with one wall dedicated to display these creations.
Books by the artists are also in the space to read after viewing the original images.
The centre is interested in eventually touring the collection around the country.
Opening April 29, Seeing Stories: Exhibition of the John Barrow Collection is on at the University of Canberra Hub Exhibition Space in Bruce until the end of Children's Book Week on August 26.
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