Tan lines

THE Literature Centre in Fremantle has been overwhelmed by interest in an exhibition of original artwork by world-renowned illustrator Shaun Tan.

The author of The Arrival, The Lost Thing and Tales from Outer Suburbia cut his teeth at the centre, and although he now lives in Melbourne, local interest in his new book Cicada is so great the literature centre has had to extend an exhibition of the artworks used in the book’s creation.

About 1900 people indicated they might attend the Book Week event this Wednesday (August 22), but to avoid sardine-like conditions inside the TLC’s modest gallery space an extra night has been put on for Thursday August 23 from 4-8pm.

• The Literature Centre’s assistant curator Kath Wisken and staffer Louisa Wales with Cicada, star of Shaun Tan’s latest book, a metamorphic look at bullying and alienation. Photo by Steve Grant

TLC staffer Louisa Wales revealed she’d had a brush with Tan in 1993 – before his career had taken off – and says his talent was obvious.

“When I was editor of the newspaper at UWA Shaun was contributing delightful, slightly twisted and comical cartoons to the paper and his talent shone through as a rare and precious thing.”

Tan himself says the TLC was an “indispensable port-of-call” in his early years as a freelancer, even though when he first arrived he was mistaken for a 14-year-old participant in one of the centre’s writing courses.

• Shaun Tan. File photo

He says most of the country’s illustrators can thank the centre at least in part for their success.

It turns out the Herald also played a big role in Tan’s life.

He met his wife Inari at the gallery opening for his 1998 book The Rabbits after she saw the event publicised in the Chook.

The Literature Centre is in the old Fremantle Prison, with access off Knutsford Street.

by STEVE GRANT

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