THREE years ago, the not-so-magnificent seven of us were sitting around, drinking coffee and eating crackers laden with chili-cheese dip.
We were gathered in the comfortable recreation room – actually a detached building – at the home of Arts Alliance president Ken Armstrong.
It was one of monthly committee meetings of the alliance we had formed two years earlier as an umbrella organisation to represent the artists of our local area.
President Ken did not have to travel to meetings at his place and, in exchange for that comfort, he supplied the excellent coffee, tasty dips and the occasional small glasses of red wine.
Representing the arts community, those of us who enjoyed a quiet drink felt it was fitting to indulge in the traditional arty red rather than a white cousin.
Theatrical representative Ray Swenson suggested the Alliance put together an anthology of short stories from local writers.
Artists Ken Armstrong and Daniel Wagner said we should illustrate each story. The annual arts alliance anthology was born. Ken and Dan produced the covers for the first anthologies.
Ken took on the role of Illustrations Editor at our usual rate of pay – priceless appreciation for a love job well done.
An anthology of short stories, each with original illustration, is a rare beast. I am yet to see one from the Big Six mainstream publishers. Such a creation fulfils for the vow of Bent Banana Books to produce books that are different.
I present a selection of the art from our 2010 and 2011 anthologies
Elena Ventura creates a technologically enhanced citizen for Brenda Simcox-Hunt’s sardonic tale 2060 Woman. Elena was a finalist in the prestigious Australian award (since 1949) Blake Prize for Religious Art named after the poet/ artist William Blake who some believe was a Druid priest. It is from the anthology Can you believe it…
Multi award winning artist Michelle Caitens renders an impressionistic urban landscape for the story The Other Side of Life, written by the artist’s daughter, Jenna Caitens for The Writing on the Wall, the anthology coming soon as an eBook through Bent Banana Books. The story and artwork are now available in 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall.
This Ken Armstrong illustration is for Audrey Sanderson’s The Anniversary (available in The Writing on the Wall and 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall.) I like the sense of joy Ken has captured as the young woman tries on a new pair of shoes.
Another one from Elena illustrates Best Mates by Anne Olsson from Can you believe it.
Elena’s skill has rendered a vivid portrait from the back. Can’t you just see the sunset or the lagoon the contented couple are looking at.
Michelle’s sketch of a young woman has such fine detail in the eyes, the mouth and the clutched note. You just have to love how Michelle has captured the state of the young woman’s mind in the hair. It is for Too Late for Heroes, written by 18-year-old Maddi Mitchell and found in Can you believe it.
Another from Ken for Peter Bowler’s Tempting the Devil (available in The Writing on the Wall and 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall.)
Yet another from Ken, this one illustrating my story Codpiece and Chips from Can you believe it. My anti-hero Steele Hill has three loves – horse-racing, rock music and girlfriend,Natalie, unfortunately, in that order. A meal of fish and chips is prominent in the yarn.
You have probably gathered Ken is very much hands-on as an illustrations editor. This is is his artwork for L. G. Dalton’s A Once Upon a Time Tale in Can you believe it.