Not just books and theatre at the Athenaeum

Renowned Melbourne cartoonist, artist, writer and children’s book creator Judy Horacek will be the artist-in-residence at the Athenaeum during the Melbourne Rare Book Week and throughout July. 

Ms Horacek is well known for her cartoons that touch on political topics such as climate change and her children’s books, including Where is the Green Sheep, are household names in Australia. She is also a regular freelance cartoonist for Fairfax.

Ms Horacek said she hoped to get inspiration from the residency program at the Athenaeum, one of Melbourne’s oldest libraries and theatres.

“It would be a privilege to work in this building and be inspired by the books and history,” she said.

“It would be very different, working live and having people coming in to see me working. A lot of my regular work is just staring out the window or taking random notes.”

“But setting up the studio here can help me engage with the audience more.”

“I really enjoy talking to people about my work, especially with people who are wanting to get into art. The residency could show people an alternative way of life,” she said.

Being a well-rounded artist and writer, Ms Horacek said she loved expressing political views through cartoons.

“I love the immediacy of cartoons and the possibility of making political comments around issues such as climate change, asylum seekers and feminism,” she said.

Ms Horacek will also launch her new cartoon book Random Life on June 29.

Her ninth cartoon collection, Random Life features everything from anxiety to superheroes and to zebras, with different political themes. The foreword is by the late satirist John Clarke.

During the artist residency program, guest artists are invited to set up their studio at the Athenaeum Library and put their artworks on display. The program offers artists time and space to present, reflect and produce their work.

Ms Horacek will showcase Random Life, some of her recent cartoon prints, including one commissioned by the Athenaeum, and her previous books during the residency.

Athenaeum’s business manager Sue Westwood said the residency program could add an extra cultural element to the venue, which was already rich in history and literature.

“We want to offer more than just books. To be able to have Judy’s work on display is a great reason for people to visit,” Ms Westwood said.

“We hope a change of environment could provide a different kind of scene for the creative process. Also, people are always intrigued by some behind-the-scene access.”

The Rare Book Week will run at various locations from June 30 to July 9.

Ms Horacek will be in residence from July 3-7, although her work is on display throughout July.  She is also giving a free talk about cartooning and collaborating on Wednesday, July 5 at 6.00pm.  Bookings are essential on 9650 3100.

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