A theatre inside the book; paper engineering from the collections of the State Library of South Australia, 14th November 2015 to the end March 2016.

The State Library is creating a wonderful exhibition of pop-up books and moveable paper items from its collections. The exhibition will explores the beginnings of moveable books in academia, the history of children’s pop-up books, and the use of the moveable format across a multitude of subjects and genres including old story-time favourites, Christmas, sport, exploration, science and music. 

There are many intriguing pieces - a moveable handmade Valentine’s card made for bereaved parents, rare Don Bradman batting-action ‘Flicker’ books and a record album cover with the band members as pop-up characters. There really is something everyone can appreciate.

Other pieces in this display have been drawn from the Children’s Literature Research Collection which is one of the State Library’s most significant heritage collections. It contains over 68,000 books, 900 toys and almost 900 games. The collection has been built up over many decades by the purchase of materials and through items donated by individuals and organisations. 

*Král, Zdenek, “Magical World Made of Paper “ (Kouzelnz svety papíru ), Ahoj na sobotu, June 1988.

The feature artist is renowned Czech illustrator and paper engineer Vojtěch Kubašta (b.1914 – d.1992) whose work can be seen in the main case of the exhibit. He said of his work that he wished ‘to create for children a small theatre inside the book’*.  His signature pieces are large, brightly coloured tri-fold books with the story stapled into the centre. The great surprise is at the end, whereby the back cover folds out to reveal a gloriously vibrant pop-up, some of which stand as high as 33cms. You can spot Australian animals on Kubašta’s Noah’s Ark, a recent acquisition by the State Library and the catalyst for creating this exhibition.

The State Library corresponded with Dagmar Vrkljan, Kubašta’s daughter earlier this year. She too is an artist, living in Prague and said of her father, ‘He was such a wonderful gentleman’, and how pleased she was that people continued to take an interest in his work. This display may encourage visitors to explore the rich body of Kubašta’s work and pique interest in all kinds of paper engineering from the collections.

The free exhibition will be on public display in the Treasures Wall from Pageant Day November 14th to the end of March 2016, and online on the Treasures Wall website. For associated events and workshops, subscribe to the State Library’s What’s On e-newsletter.


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