Art & creativity  |  8 Aug 2019

A Christchurch Art Gallery book that aims to inspire creativity and curiosity in young minds has won top honours at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Art-tastic, created and written by the Gallery’s Publications Co-ordinator Sarah Pepperle, won the Best First Book Award and the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction at an awards ceremony at Te Papa last night.

The judges said the book, which is aimed at eight to 12-year-olds, made learning about art effortless and was “instantly engaging, slyly educational and peppered with a sense of humour”.

“This is a rare book that makes art – in this case the iconic works in the Christchurch Art Gallery – accessible and fun for young readers and shows how it can touch all aspects of our lives.”

The book is packed with ideas and activities and includes work by Rita Angus, Steve Carr, Martin Creed, Tony Fomison, Michael Parekowhai, Yvonne Todd and others, along with kid-friendly features such as zombies and blood splatters.

The concept was sparked by Ms Pepperle’s daughter, who she says likes things that are a “little subversive”. “So I started tinkering around with ideas for an art book with attitude.”

She is thrilled by the awards. "We want kids to connect with art and really enjoy looking at it, not just making it – so with a starting point of some exceptional works from Christchurch Art Gallery’s collection I wrote about serious art concepts in a fun way.''

Ms Pepperle worked with Aaron Beehre, senior lecturer in design at the University of Canterbury’s Ilam School of Fine Arts, and three graduates on the design for Art-tastic.

It has already been recognised with the Best Children’s Book award at the Museums Australasia Multimedia and Publication Design Awards in Australia and made the Storylines Notable Books 2019 list.