Pinerolo - Interview (April 2019)
Where did the idea for Pinerolo come from?
In spite of what some people think, opening this place was never a lifelong dream. We bought the property in Blackheath in 2000 and there was an old two-bedroom cottage already here. Max wanted to build his dream stone Italian farmhouse, so we lived in the cottage for the six years it took him to build. In June 2010, we moved into the new house, then wondered what we’d do with the cottage. Because I had a large collection of original artwork, I decided to turn it into a children’s book centre. So we worked furiously, painting and renovating, framing and hanging pictures and the official opening was in November 2010. It is the only centre for children’s books in NSW. We promote Australian children’s picture books and their creators and educate adults and children about them and I am proud to share my collection and my knowledge with people.
What services does it offer to children’s authors or illustrators?
The collection of original artwork by many of Australia’s award-winning illustrators is good enough reason for authors and illustrators to visit. I am still so impressed with the wealth of talent we have in Australia, how versatile our illustrators are and how they can work in so many different media. In these days when so much artwork for picture books is done digitally there are not so many pieces of beautiful, original, hand done artwork to frame and hang. So my collection is a treasure trove. I began my ‘Illustrators in Residence’ program several years ago. I realised there are several ‘Authors in Residence’ programs available but no residencies for illustrators, especially with a live-in mentor! So I received funding from the Copyright Agency for a few years.
How are your Illustrator’s in Residence selected?
‘Illustrators in Residence’ are now funded by WestWords. We advertise the program and invite applications. Based on the applications, the selection panel, representing WestWords, Pinerolo and a publisher, choose the illustrators based on their potential as picture book illustrators and their submitted samples. Illustrators in Residence live in the cottage for a week and I spend at least a few hours with them every day. This mentorship, based on my lengthy experience as a picture book publisher, editor and designer, helps them develop their work, practise their drawing, compile their portfolio or even work on ideas for a picture book, especially if they’ve already got a publishing contract.
Can anyone visit Pinerolo?
Yes, we live in the house adjacent to the cottage. Although the cottage isn’t open on a daily basis, we are happy to receive visitors. A phone call is all that is needed to check that we’ll be here. Ideally, a group of people will arrange a visit and I’ll be able to give them a talk on how picture books are made.
There’s information about group visits and bookings on the website: www.pinerolo.com.au/PDF/Groups.pdf
What is the Picture Books @ Pinerolo program?
Picture Books @ Pinerolo began in 2007, even before our new house was built. Dee Huxley and I presented regular one-day courses to small groups. Now, because the cottage is totally dedicated as a children’s book centre, there are probably up to six a year. The day begins at 10am and concludes at 4pm. Sessions are split between me, talking about picture books from a publishing perspective and I am joined by an award-winning author or illustrator who talks about their work. There’s always a ‘show and tell’ session at the end of the day where anyone can share their work with us. It’s very satisfying that these courses have run for so long and that participants find them so inspiring. There are several who came as aspiring authors and have gone on to be successfully published. That’s very satisfying for me as it’s wonderful that I’ve been able to set someone on the path to publication. The next Picture Books @ Pinerolo will be on 30 March, with the incredibly talented Tohby Riddle. Not only will Tohby impress us with his breadth of experience as an author, illustrator and editor, he will have two new picture books to discuss and describe their development. These are ‘Here Comes Stinkbug’ and ‘Yahoo Creek’.
There is a booking form on the website: www.pinerolo.com.au/PDF/Riddle.pdf
Does Pinerolo receive any funding?
Apart from the Illustrators in Residence program, which is funded by WestWords, we receive no funding. We rely on word of mouth, on participants in our courses and sales of books and artwork. I’ve recently joined Airbnb and that is proving to bring in a few much-needed dollars! People who stay here will have the opportunity to see one of the best collections of original artwork in Australia. How about that?
How can people get involved with Pinerolo?
I do a newsletter every second month and have a large mailing list. I not only keep readers up to date with happenings in the children’s book world, but I receive review copies of new picture books from publishers, so have a list of those that I recommend. So anyone wishing to receive this newsletter should email me to be added to the list. They will also be the first to receive notices about upcoming courses and events. The February newsletter had recently gone out.
What’s next for Pinerolo?
2020 will mark our tenth birthday. I’m surprised that we’re still going strong and that there are still people who are interested in how to write, illustrate and publish a picture book. Picture books are alive and well in Australia. Our publishers produce beautiful picture books which are a satisfying, tactile experience to be shared with children. So maybe I’ll plan a 10th anniversary party and think about what I’ll do after that. I AM supposed to be retired!