“Birds of a Feather”- exhibition of Iranian children’s literature illustrations

“Representations of birds are not all that make Iranian illustration unique. There are more elusive elements at play. It is these elements that make Iranian illustrators among the most acclaimed in the world, and that infuse Iranian illustration with their mix of novelty and familiarity.” Margrete Lamond

“Lost in Books” team has barely said goodbye to IBBY’s “Silent Books” exhibition” and is already delivering another fantastic exhibition. “Birds of a Feather” is a display of 56 illustrations by Iranian artists. It explores the rich tradition and contemporary practice of Iranian children’s literature illustration, which is among the most acclaimed in the world.

The show has been curated by Margrete Lamond who I regard as one of my heroes and whose intelligence I’ve always admired. In her own words “loves to over-think and over-feel about the power of art, literature and beauty, their roles in our lives, and their importance for our young compatriots who depend on our sharing the very best with them”. I can wholeheartedly relate to and sympathise with these concerns.

“Birds of a Feather”, Margrete notes, was a culmination of her “creeping obsession with the works of a unique group of artists and a growing desire to share their works with a wider community.”

The exhibition travels around Australia with the support of Dirt Lane Press (Margrete’s own children’s books publishing house), Kia Literary Agency and WestWords.

In the introduction to the exhibition catalogue, Margrete Lamond notes: “…birds have been a fundamental component of Persian culture and philosophy for millennia. Birds of a Feather has become not just a thematic focus for a particular practice of contemporary illustration. It is also an expression of a unique cultural tradition.”

Here are some images from the exhibition opening night on 30 April. It’s been such a privilege to hear the opening talk by Dr Pedram Khosronejad, curator of Persian Arts at Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and a professor in socio-cultural anthropology, speak on the role of visual imagery in Persian culture starting from the ancient story-telling tradition and through to its impact on contemporary artistic practices.

The opening night was fantastic and organised in the usual high spirit of generosity and hospitality that the “Lost in Books” folk are known for. In addition to the engaging conversation and being surrounded by stunning Iranian art and floor-to-ceiling shelves of books , Persian food was served in absolute abundance. Having been too engrossed in the artwork and books however, I was too slow to take a photo of the tasty cuisine before it was devoured.

The exhibition is on till 30 May 2021 at “Lost in Books” (before travelling to other venues) and if you’re in Sydney it so well worth your visit! 15 works are on display each week and will change weekly until all 56 works have been shown.

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