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Magabala announces Australia’s first Indigenous illustrator award

Wed, Jul 05, 2017

Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award

Photo: Artwork from Steve goes to Carnival by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells

Magabala Books is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a call for entries to the inaugural Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award.

The winner of the biennial award will receive $10,000, a mentorship and the opportunity to illustrate a children’s story by renowned author and illustrator, Sally Morgan.
Judges for the award include children’s book industry icons – Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs and celebrated illustrators Bronwyn Bancroft and Ann James. 

Magabala Publisher, Rachel Bin Salleh, who will also serve as judge, spoke about the award and her hopes for it to ‘address industry demand for Indigenous illustrators’.

‘The award will support emerging illustrators to develop their craft, and encourage Indigenous artists who haven’t illustrated before’, she said. 

On a recent trip to Magabala Books, Leigh Hobbs and Ann James met with Indigenous illustrator, Joshua Button. As a young person, Joshua was mentored with the support of Magabala and has since published three children’s books, including Steve Goes to Carnival with Robyn Wells.

Steve goes to Carnival is a really terrific picture book in all ways – cover to cover. It’s a marvellous example of the value of mentoring. I can’t wait to see what new talent this award uncovers’, says Hobbs.

The award is funded by the Kestin Family Foundation. The Foundation’s representative, Harry Kestin, first discovered the work of Magabala Books when he visited its Broome bookshop in 2008. ‘I was blown away by the quality of their children’s books and commitment to career development of Indigenous illustrators and authors,' he said.

'We are excited by the potential to expand creative career options for Indigenous artists. It brings together our family’s interest in fine art, storytelling and Indigenous empowerment.’ 

Over the last 30 years, Magabala Books has supported Indigenous storytellers, authors and illustrators to publish more than 250 titles, sold international book rights and built an impressive resume of award-winning titles including Bruce Pascoe’s best-selling work Dark Emu. The Kestin Award expands Magabala Books’ program of professional development opportunities for Indigenous authors and illustrators.

Application packages for the Kestin Indigenous Illustrator Award can be requested by emailing Publisher, Rachel Bin Salleh at