Dub Leffler: Darkish
On January 28, Kluge-Ruhe will open Dub Leffler: Darkish, a selection of watercolors made for illustrations in children’s literature and other related works. Darkish explores how Indigenous children are represented in children’s literature, and the term “darkish” was used by the adoption agency to describe the artist himself as a child. Historically, Aboriginal children have been stereotyped in children’s literature or excluded altogether, not unlike their adult counterparts in non-Indigenous fiction over the last 200 years. Leffler’s work expands the image of the Aboriginal child to encompass the diversity of Indigenous Australia, allowing the opportunity for all Aboriginal children to see themselves and their histories reflected in the books that help shape who they become. These delicately drawn and subtly painted works challenge the notion that children’s book illustrations aren’t art in and of themselves, breaking down Eurocentric constructions of what is and is not included in the exclusive category of “fine art.”
The exhibition will also be available to explore virtually, and this virtual exhibition will open in the spring. Watch the video below to hear a reading of the book Sorry Day, read by Leffler and the author Coral Vass; many of the illustrations from this book are featured in Darkish.
Dub Leffler will participate in a virtual artist residency at Kluge-Ruhe from February 4 – May 25, 2021. He will present an artist talk and will be a central speaker in panel discussions around the importance of diversity in children’s literature, how illustration is a form of art, and issues of representation for Indigenous Australians in the arts. He will also guest-lecture to several courses at UVA and will participate in the Virginia Festival of the Book.
This exhibition and residency are supported by Australia Council for the Arts, the UVA Mellon Indigenous Arts Initiative and UVA Vice Provost for the Arts. We are grateful to Joan Kindig for sharing her guidance and expertise in the planning and development of Leffler’s virtual residency.
ABOUT Dub Leffler
Dub Leffler (Bigambul, Mandandanji) is an illustrator, writer, animator and mixed media artist, working in the arts through books, film, television, muralism and art education. He has taught and workshopped illustration in Australia, Scotland, Indonesia and the United States. He is a prominent children’s book illustrator and author, collaborating with Sally Morgan, Banksy, Coral Vass and others, and is known for his soft realistic portraits and emotional landscapes. In addition to his Aboriginal heritage of southwest Queensland, he is also descended of French, Syrian and Irish heritage. He lives on the Central Coast of New South Wales with his daughter and family of chickens, in sight of Brisbane Water. His award-winning bestseller picture book Once There Was A Boy (2011) received international recognition, was acquired by the Library of Congress and was featured several times at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. More recently Leffler illustrated Sorry Day (2018), written by Coral Vass, which won the 2019 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books from the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Black Cockatoo (2018), which he illustrated, was also an Honour Book that year. Bindi (2020) and Strangers on Country (2020) are his most recent titles. At last count Dub has created 25 books.