Georgia Waples with Warwick West State School librarian Sue Higgins and Sophie Follett.
Georgia Waples with Warwick West State School librarian Sue Higgins and Sophie Follett.

Artwork central to library revamp

PARIS has the Mona Lisa, Stanthorpe boasts an original Picasso and now Warwick can claim one of the largest artworks by renowned Australian author and illustrator Stephen Michael King.

The towering creation is the centrepiece of the new Building The Education Revolution-funded Warwick West State School library.

While the artist is not the sort to talk up his work he admitted being honoured when asked to make a creative contribution to the local learning centre.

Mr King’s newest piece of public art is a whimsical purple tree taking up an entire wall of the library and “shading” red-shag pile carpet grass in a reading area designed to captivate the most reticent young student.

Enticing the nationally acclaimed illustrator, whose work has won a swag of literary awards including the prestigious Children’s Book Council of Australia prize, to contribute was the school’s librarian Sue Higgins.

“I had some very definite plans for the library and at the centre of those was a tree,” Mrs Higgins said.

“What is nicer than sitting under a tree and reading a great book?

“Trees are also symbolic in the sense that’s where paper and books comes from.”

So as a long-time Mr King fan the local librarian did what most dare not do and sent the illustrator an invitation to be involved in the Warwick West project.

“Mr King responded almost immediately and said he’d be honoured to be involved,” Mrs Higgins said.

“So we consulted and I told him what I would like and he came up with a typically whimsical, perfectly appealing tree.”

The tree is the perfect compliment to an area Mrs Higgins describes as a flexible learning space with wireless connections and moveable shelving and furniture.

But while the newly finished library might boast apple-shaped tables, petal floor cushions and a swag of new books some elements remain unchanged.

Like the enduring fictional favourites and those books Mrs Higgins would never part with.

Among her personal preferences are the ageing, yet still “very relevant” Dictionary of Chivalry, which includes lists of chivalrous things.

“I knew the library looked good when the kids described it as ‘cool’,” Mrs Higgins said.

At a classroom level she was confident the new centre would fuel student interest in library use.

“We have had a 150 percent increase in borrowing over the past three years. With the right resources you can hook any kids into becoming borrowers.”



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