Last Saturday this delightful new picture book was launched at Arts Project Australia by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Minister for the Arts.
I was delighted to be asked by Josef’s Mum, Sue Crawford, to read A Place to Call Home at the Book Launch. I have known Sue and Josef since I taught him at kindergarten twenty years ago.
A Place to Call Home is the story of the quest of an artist with an intellectual disability in search of ‘a place called home’. Sue was inspired by Josef’s illustrations to create a children’s picture book. She asked writer Jessica Redmond write the story, and Kate Mansell to design the book.
Diagnosed with an intellectual disability at age 4, Josef has channelled much of his natural curiosity and love of life into his artwork, joining the Northcote-based Arts Project Australia in 2008. Josef works in texta and paint, building up layers of colour to create harmonic patterns and subtle forms which beautifully capture a child’s awe and wonder about the world around us.
The questions about where the seahorse or the owl live reflect a yearning for home that is universal in all of us and for that reason the work should appeal to any family. But the special purpose of the work was to promote positive aspects of disability and demonstrate the value and potential of collaboration with intellectually-disabled artists. It’s a simple story on a profound theme and it lives in Josef’s imagination — the rest of us have just helped to bring it to a wider audience. Sue Crawford.
Arts Project Australia is a centre of excellence that supports artists with intellectual disabilities, promoting their work and advocating for inclusion within contemporary art practice.
A Place to Call Home is published by Sue Crawford. It costs $25.00, and all proceeds of the book’s sales will go to Arts Project Australia to support its artists in the studio and gallery.
Please contact Arts Project Australia further information. Tel: 61 3 9482 4484, Arts Project Australia