Friday, 1 February 2008

Local artist profile: Anne Spudvilas

Images from The Peasant Prince (above).

Baysidemama hopes to publish regular profiles on local artists. In the first instalment, writer Clare Kennedy profiles local artist Anne Spudvilas.

The bay has long inspired the artists of Melbourne. Clarice Beckett (1887-1935) springs to mind; the early 1900s painter renown – after her death - for her misty paintings of Beaumaris. She, among others, tramped along the shoreline with her paints, capturing the Bay's many moods and shifting light.

And this body of water continues to inspire. Local resident, painter and portrait artist Anne Spudvilas recently staged an exhibition of photographs taken at the open-sea Brighton Baths.

Anne has also won acclaim as a picture-book illustrator – her most recent book The Peasant Prince, by Li Cunxin, is the children’s version of his best-selling memoir, Mao’s Last Dancer.

The picture-book traces the remarkable journey of Cunxin’s life: his poverty-stricken childhood in rural
China; being plucked from his classroom to train at the Beijing Dance Academy; his self-imposed determination to excel, and his dramatic transformation into a world-famous dancer.

Spudvilas used traditional Chinese ink and watercolour on rice-paper to capture the Chinese setting of the story, and glossy oil paints on canvas to evoke, by contrast, the glitz and glamour of America as perceived by Cunxin on his first trip there as a young man from Communist China.

She even travelled to
China with Cunxin for research, visiting his home village, the Dance Academy, and meeting his family and friends – all characters in the book.

The result is an inspiring picture-book for adults and children alike about following your dreams, brought to life by Spudvilas’s evocative illustrations.

For a look at Anne's inspiring images of the Bay and its surrounds visit:

The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin, illus. by Anne Spudvilas
Penguin Group,
Australia, 2007

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