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A shared love of books, art and children inspired Ann James and Ann Haddon to establish Books Illustrated in 1988.
Together they have a unique view of the picture book industry, seen from many angles – librarian, bookseller, gallery director, writer and illustrator.

Books Illustrated is a centre celebrating Australian children’s literature, in particular picture books and their creators. It has an interesting history that has culminated in a program of exhibitions promoting the work of Australian book illustrators throughout Australia and in international venues.

A cosy showroom in bayside Melbourne can be visited by appointment to view and purchase original illustrations, limited edition prints and a wide range of children’s books.

 
     

Ann James was an art teacher and moved into designing and illustrating education publications while establishing herself as a children’s book illustrator.

She represents illustrators on the Committee of Management of The Australian Society of Authors, and manages their website, The Style File– an online showcase of Australian book illustrators.

Ann continues to illustrate and write in her studio upstairs at Books Illustrated. Some of the books she has illustrated include, The Penny Pollard series; the Hannah series; The Midnight Gang; Shutting the Chooks In; Little Humpty; The Way I Love You; Lucy Goosey; Sadie & Ratz, the Audrey of the Outback series and Chester and Gil.

You can see some of Ann’s books on our Bookshop page.

 

Ann Haddon was a teacher librarian in primary schools for 18 years – setting up the Junior School Library at Yarra Valley Grammar School before collaborating with Ann James to establish Book Illustrated in 1988.

She is actively involved in children’s literature, including the Children's Book Council of Australia, for many years being an executive member and President of the Victorian branch and Vice President of the National CBCA Executive in 2007 & 2008.

 
Beginning at Cobden Street

Books Illustrated began as a gallery for children's book illustration in a colonial cottage in South Melbourne. This cottage was the setting for one of Ann James’s early picture books Finding Jack.

Celebrating the boom in publishing for children in Australia at that time, the first exhibition in 1988 was The Not-So-Shortlist Exhibition featuring illustrations from books entered into the 1988 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards.

Cottage in Cobden Street, South Melbourne – illustration by Ann James, Finding Jack

This exhibition went on to be an annual exhibition in our program for the next twenty years!

The small gallery soon became a hub for children’s book illustrators and the decision was made to create the Society of Book Illustrators. The inaugural meeting was held at Books Illustrated in 1988.

With over nine exhibitions a year, and the support of children’s literature enthusiasts, the gallery soon outgrew the cottage.

In 1991, Books Illustrated moved to a handsome old house at 300 Beaconsfield Parade Middle Park where we developed our education program while continuing to host exhibitions, launches and events for the children’s literature community.
300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park - Sketch by Leigh Hobbs
 
Growing at Gasworks

In 1993 Books Illustrated moved again, to Gasworks Arts Park, in Albert Park. Here, in the two- storey historic gatehouse building, we established a specialist children’s bookshop downstairs with gallery and Ann James’s open studio upstairs.

Originally the Gasworks, this precinct was developed to celebrate and promote art and artists. A large park planted with native trees is surrounded by studios occupied by artists who work in a range of disciplines.

Gatehouse Building, Gasworks Arts
Park – photo by John Barrow

For over 15 years we were involved in Gasworks Arts activities with a community arts focus, and were pleased to integrate children’s literature and arts into the programs. Books Illustrated’s own education and workshop programs developed and an audience beyond the children’s literature community was introduced to Australian books and illustration.

Our exhibitions started to extend beyond our walls to Australian Regional galleries and overseas venues, particularly in Asia, with exhibitions promoting Australian picture books and their creators in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China.

New Directions

Making the decision to refocus our activities to be able to further extend and expand our traveling exhibition program, we moved back to 300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park in May 2008.

Here our focus is still to promote and sell Australian picture books – but through our showroom, open by appointment, and our website.

Visitors can view and purchase original book illustrations and limited edition prints as well as children’s books for a wide age range – the focus and specialty still being Australian hardback picture books.

Our touring exhibition program continues to develop with exhibitions to venues around Australia and overseas.

In Australia exhibitions have been shown in many places including Melbourne, Maryborough, Alice Springs, Gladstone, Brisbane, Albury, Hobart, Fremantle and Port Hedland.

Overseas exhibitions have been toured to countries including Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan and Italy.