‘Faith’ Soundtrack

'Faith' by Eve Jeffery, soundtrack by Matt Ottley

I had the pleasure of working with Eve Jeffery and David Lowe in the short, gripping documentary ‘Faith’, recently showcased at the St Kilda Short Film Festival.  ‘Faith’ was one of six short films chosen for the Olympus Film-maker Challenge.

It was an incredible experience to write seven pieces of music in just a few days. I also worked with the wonderful cellist Claire Yerbury on the music.

The film is currently doing the national and international circuit and will be available in the next twelve months online.

CBCA Book of the Year Awards: ‘Suri’s Wall’ & ‘Teacup’

The King's ship digital print by Matt Ottley

I am pleased to announce that my most recent book, Suri’s Wall, written by Lucy Estela and published by Penguin/Viking has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards.

Teacup was also listed as a notable.  The winner of the CBCA awards will be announced on August 19th.

Congratulations to Lucy Estela for being shortlisted on her very first picture book. It’s a truly beautiful text. My heartfelt thanks to Heather Curdie and all the team at Penguin Random House.

The artworks from Suri’s Wall will be on exhibition at The Literature Centre in WA in the fourth term.

Unmasking the Wild

Matt Ottley mask for Isobelle Carmody's Unmasking the Wild Exhibition

I have recently participated in the Unmasking the Wild Exhibition created by Author Isobelle Carmody in celebration of the Obernewtyn Chronicles.

The Exhibition features painted masks created by well known Children’s book Illustrators. The masks are currently being auctioned off to help raise funds for the Children in Crisis Fund and Animals Asia.

You can view or bid on my mask here, or bid on other artist’s fantastic creations.

Congratulations to Isobelle for the incredible work she has put into this very worthwhile project.

The Sound of Picture Books: Perth

The Sound of Picture Books

I feel very privileged to once again be participating in the “Sound of Picture Books”. This continual collaboration with The Literature Centre, WASO and Yamaha is very exciting for me as it allows me to compose music and create an additional sensorial element to my Children’s Books.

This year  the book Tree, sensitively written by Danny Parker and illustrated by me will be performed by WASO in Perth in June, 2016.

If you or your children are interested in seeing this performance limited tickets are still available through The Literature Centre, or you can purchase the DVD from my website.

View additional details here.

Details of the 'Sound of Picture Books'

Writing & Illustration Masterclasses

Children's Book writing workshop with Matt Ottley

In February and March 2016 I will be hosting two Children’s Book masterclasses, one for writing and one for illustration.  These masterclasses will be held over a weekend and will cover all aspects of the creative and publishing process for Children’s Books.

The workshops are limited to 5 places each, enabling a strong personal approach to be given. Each workshop also includes a one-on-one hour long session with me to discuss your very own work.

Further details are available from Heidi’s Place Bookstore.

  • Click here to learn more about the Writing Masterclass – Feb 27-28th, 2016
  • Click here to learn more about the Illustration Masterclass – Mar 5-6th, 2016

To make a booking click here.

Book Launch – Suri’s Wall

Illustration from Suri's Wall by Lucy Estela and Matt Ottley

Book Launch – Suri’s Wall

My new book, Suri’s Wall, a collaboration with writer Lucy Estela, published by Penguin, was released in August, and officially launched at Heidi’s Place in October by the wonderful Jo Spiller. Lucy’s text for Suri’s Wall is very powerful and the book makes a beautiful sister work to my collaborations with John Marsden and Rebecca Young (Home and Away and Teacup).

In their own way each book is about displacement, compassion, empathy and the innate wisdom and strength of the human spirit. Lucy has created a fantastic website featuring Suri’s Wall, which you can see by clicking here.

Limited Edition Prints

Limited edition signed prints are currently available from my website in the “Shop”, at Heidi’s Place Bookstore in Murwillumbah NSW and The Literature Centre in Fremantle, WA.

Sound of Picture Books – Geraldton

Sound of Picture Books tour to Geraldton

Sound of Picture Books – Geraldton

‘WOW!  What an incredible tour to Geraldton we all experienced!  A huge thank you to everyone who donated and assisted with funding the tour.’ Lesley Reece, Director of The Literature Centre  

The Sound of Picture Books, a collaboration between WASO, The Literature Centre and Yamaha, is a unique multi-modal workshop that brings story books to life through a journey of sound and imagery. The Sound of Picture Books workshops were presented to students in Geraldton on 22nd-24th September, 2015.  

The tour gave families in regional WA an innovative learning experience that we hope left them excited about the boundless possibilities of music, art and literature. We featured Tree, my collaboration with Danny Parker, published by Little Hare Books. Tree is a poignant story that explores the cycles of life, the turn of seasons, familial love and the delicacy of the natural world.

The children heard Danny narrate his text accompanied by my illustrations projected on a large screen, with my music performed by a WASO string quintet and Yamaha pianist Alf Demasi. Following a short introduction to their instruments by each of the musicians, Danny then interacted with the audience in a sometimes hilarious, sometimes moving explanation of the creative processes involved in the making of Danny’s text, my paintings and musical score. We were all thrilled by the wonderful reception we received in Geraldton.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the Tree DVD click here.



Home and Away DVD showcased in Sydney

Home and Away by John Marsden and Matt Ottley

Home and Away DVD showcased in Sydney

In July I was honoured to have the Home and Away DVD shown in Sydney in an event organised by RACS at Canterbury Girls High School. Maja Hallett spoke very movingly about her experiences of being a refugee and two of the young actors from the TV series Home and Away spoke beautifully about the need for compassion and empathy.

To purchase a copy of the DVD or book click here.

Book Launch – Teacup

Teacup, a children's book by Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley

Book Launch – Teacup

The official launch of my new picture book in collaboration with Rebecca YoungTeacup, took place in Murwillumbah at Heidi’s Place Bookstore in July. We are delighted that it has received such positive reviews (see below for some examples) and particularly excited that it was nominated for the Queensland Literary Awards in the Griffith University Children’s Book Award.

Rebecca’s text for Teacup is one of the most glorious picture book texts I’ve ever read and both Rebecca and Ana Vivas were brilliant editors to work with. I’m very grateful to Nicole and the design team at Scholastic who worked so sensitively with Rebecca’s text and my paintings, and to my partner, Tina for her superb photographs of the paintings.

The original oil paintings are all from 1 to 2 metres wide and are currently on display at The Literature Centre in Fremantle, WA. They are also for sale. Limited edition signed prints are available from my store, Heidi’s Place and The Literature Centre.


Thank you to everyone for the heartfelt reviews of Teacup. We are so proud to be able to share this work with you.


Heidi’s Place Bookstore Opening

Mural at Heidi's Place Bookstore by Matt Ottley and Tina Wilson

Heidi’s Place Bookstore Mural

One of the exciting projects I was involved with this year, was the collaborative painting of my very first mural. There is a bookstore in our local town, Murwillumbah, called Heidi’s Place, which recently moved to the main street and took on a complete makeover as a specialist children’s book store. The two lovely people who run Heidi’s Place, Heidi and Renae, asked my partner Tina and I to paint a floor and wall mural for the new premises. It was an enormously rewarding experience and we completed the mural in three days.

I was honoured to be asked to open Heidi’s Place at a ceremony on it’s first day of trading in the new location, and doubly honoured to have Heidi’s Place formally launch Teacup on the same day: their first official event.  Here are some images of Tina and I creating the mural.

Home and Away DVD Launch

Home and Away by John Marsden and Matt Ottley

Home and Away DVD Launch in Murwillumbah, NSW

On Thursday 13th November 2014, the Uki Refugee Group, which is a refugee friendship group based in my local community, launched the Home and Away DVD and reprint of the book at the Regent Cinema in Murwillumbah. The book Home and Away, written by John Marsden and illustrated by me is a book that has always been dear to me. It is a hard hitting story that aims to help people imagine what it is like to be a refugee, hopefully engendering a sense of empathy and feelings of compassion. The story is in the form of a young person’s diary, and tells of an Australian family fleeing from a terrifying war and the trials of their lives as asylum seekers. The Home and Away DVD is a musical setting of the book, containing images and music for a small symphony orchestra. The DVD features narration by Kyle Green, a young man from my local community who was, at the time of recording, the same age as the diarist in the book, and Nina Baumer, a stunning young soprano, who sings selected lines from the text. I spoke to the attendees about the book’s images and how they explore the refugee issue, and spoke of my own personal experiences visiting Christmas Island Detention Centre.

The DVD was launched by Jo Spiller, teacher-librarian at the Uki School with a well-crafted and thought provoking speech.

The launch of the DVD was followed by a showing of the short film “New Land, New Life” with inspiring accounts of how some African refugees have built successful lives in Australia. The whole event was a benefit event and raised significant funds for the Uki Refugee Project and was seen as “stimulating and challenging” by those who attended. A huge thank you to my publisher, Hachette, for providing copies of Home and Away to help raise funds and to the Regent Cinema for hosting us. My personal thanks also to Jo for such an inspirational speech.

Sound of Picture Books – Home and Away Launch

John Marsden and Matt Ottley signing copies of Home and Away

Sound of Picture Books – Home and Away DVD Launch

The second book to be featured as part of the “Sound of Picture Books” series is Home and Away, written by John Marsden and illustrated by me.

This is a book that has always been dear to me. The Home and Away DVD is a musical setting of the book, containing narration, images and music for a small symphony orchestra. A huge thank you to teenagers Nina Baumer (a talented young soprano) and Kyle Green (narrator) for their work on the DVD.

The DVD was launched at The Literature Centre’s conference in October 2014 with author John Marsden in attendance, and was also launched in Uki, NSW, in November to help raise funds for the Uki Refugee Project.

To purchase a copy of the Home and Away DVD click here.

Creation of “Teacup” Paintings

Original painting for Teacup by Matt Ottley

Creation of “Teacup” paintings

Working on Rebecca Young’s beautiful and sensitive picture book Teacup was a magical experience for me. I was given full creative control by Scholastic and chose to paint the images as large oil paintings.

The process was a very long and involved one and some of the paintings took over a month to complete, with the artwork as a whole taking over 9 months (whilst working on other projects).

I wanted to create a sense of the great expanses of the ocean, of the raging moods of the sea, but all contained within a mood of stillness. The works are a mediation on loss, freedom, hope and belonging. My inspiration for this approach was Rebecca’s absolutely gorgeous and poetic text.

Signed limited edition prints and the book itself can be purchased from my website through the shop.

Below are some pictures of me working on the artworks to give you a sense of there scale.

The Inaugural “Sound of Picture Books”

WASO performing Tree by Danny Parker and Matt Ottley

The Sound of Picture Books

Tree, a multi-modal collaboration between The Literature Centre, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) and Yamaha Music was an outstanding success as our inaugural “Sound of Picture Books” held at The Literature Centre in Fremantle, WA. Musicians from the WASO orchestra, with Alf Demasi from Yamaha playing piano, performed my score Tree, a musical interpretation of  Danny Parker’s book, Tree, illustrated by myself. Over 1000 students ranging from school years 1 to 12 attended the performances and workshops and the response from students has been overwhelming.

The “Sound of Picture Books” performances are a coming together of music, words, images and drama in an unprecedented way. The students (and adults) attain insights into the creative process as Danny Parker introduces them to theatre and physical movement set to live music and I take them through the creative process of composing and painting. Tree, becomes a multi-modal and rich multi-sensorial experience.

Here are some photos from the inaugural “Sound of Picture Books”, Tree.

Yamaha Endorsed Musician

Matt Ottley composing music on Yamaha piano

Yamaha Endorsed Musician Yamaha sponsored artist Matt Ottley

In 2014 I was incredibly honoured to become a Yamaha endorsed musician for Australia.

To date I have written four musical works to accompany some of my children’s books, three of those (TreeParachute and Home & Away) using Yamaha’s extraordinary keyboard technology, in particular the The CVP 609. This exciting multi-modal series of works is known as “The Sound of Picture Books” with the works being performed across Australia.

I am currently working with Alf Demasi from Yamaha on a very exciting performance/film work based on the history of western music. Stay tuned…

For the musicians out there, the quote from me below is about the beautiful piano from Yamaha that I work with.

“Along with Cubase the CVP 609 offers an extraordinarily powerful armory for composers. For work-shopping ideas it is intuitive and there is no disruption to the creative flow. With a few finger taps I can change orchestrations, pushing my ideas to the limit. Mozart would’ve killed for an instrument like this and doubled his output.”