Book Launch/Exhibition: How to Make a Bird

How to make a bird cover image

How to make a bird“, Meg McKinlay’s sublime, poetic text has just been released into the world. Due to the closed WA borders I was unable to attend the launch at the Fremantle Literature Centre in October, but witnessed the thoughtful and entertaining event opened by fellow illustrator Frane Lessac.

“How to make a bird” continues its journey out into the world via an insightful exhibition at The Painted Word – Books & Art in the northern rivers, NSW. The exhibition includes original workings, editorial notes and correspondence by Meg, along with my original sketches, roughs and final artwork.

Local artists Lisa Tiffen, Katherine Castle and Tina Wilson have also created artworks inspired by the book.

The Uki Primary School, under the guidance of librarian Jo Spiller, responded to the book via their own art, creating a colourful, meaningful display that reflects upon the books inherent message of creativity. The exhibition runs until the end of December at the M|Arts Precinct, Murwillumbah. Limited edition prints are available in the store or online via the shop on my website.

Book Release: Dumazi & The Big Yellow Lion

Dumazi and the Big Yellow Lion book cover

Dumazi & The Big Yellow Lion is my collaboration with the amazing story teller Valanga Khoza. 

Scholastic will be publishing the book with the accompanying CD – featuring a 30 minute musical work. It is due for release in September 2019.

The musical work, originally written for a small orchestra, was re-scored for a piano sextet to be performed live to Perth audiences as part of the Sound of Picture Books. The book itself contains a CD of the 30-minute musical work composed by me, with guest composition by Valanga (narration, lyrics and playing of traditional zulu instruments).

Book Release & Exhibition: Mrs Millie’s Painting

Mrs Millie's Painting - a classic children's picture book, written and illustrated by Matt Ottley

I am excited to re-release my newly designed classic children’s picture book Mrs Millie’s Painting through One Tentacle Publishing.

I have a very soft spot for Mrs Millie as her story reminds me of growing up in Papua New Guinea as a child.

An exhibition of the original artworks from the book are on display at The Literature Centre in Fremantle, WA, alongside these fabulous books: Jandamarra (Mark Greenwood & Terry Denton), The Dam (David Almond & Levi Pinfold), Missing Marvin (Sue de Gennaro) and Queen Celine (Matt Shanks).

Limited edition prints are also available from my website.

One Tentacle Publishing: Frights Book Launch

One Tentacle Publishing recently launched author/illustrator Lisa Tiffen’s fourth book FRIGHTS.

It was an exciting four day event as we were part of the Murwillumbah Arts Trail. Our One Tentacle Pop-up Gallery at Carol’s Place was buzzing with visitors and we enjoyed talking about and selling books and art and meeting new people.

It was a pleasure to be part of the Murwillumbah Arts Trail event and a lot of fun exhibiting artworks alongside Carol Robinson from Carol’s Place. The gallery was filled with so much laughter, music and crazy dancing! (despite Frights hiding everywhere).

One Tentacle Publishing – Sorrows Book Launch

Sorrows, a children's picture book by Lisa Tiffen

We were delighted to launch Lisa Tiffen’s third children’s book – Sorrows, in partnership with the fabulous Uki Post Office in December 2018.  

There was not a tear in sight at the launch of ‘Sorrows’, only the coffees had the blues, but even they were sprinkled with rainbows! The ever cheerful Carol Robinson launched the book and no tissues were needed! 

Thankyou to all the people who came with their biggest smiles and helped make the event a joyous uplifting occasion.

‘Sorrows’ is the third book in a series of quirky and fun picture books that deal with children’s emotions. We look forward to launching Lisa’s fourth book ”Frights’ in May 2019. Stay tuned for details!

You can purchase Sorrows’ by clicking here.

Exhibition: The Incredible Freedom Machines

Limited Edition Art Print by Matt Ottley from "The Incredible Freedom Machines"

My latest picture book collaboration is with the fabulously talented author and performer Kirli Saunders. The Incredible Freedom Machines is a poetic story about one young girl’s search for freedom and the liberating power of literature.

An exhibition of my original oil paintings from The Incredible Freedom Machines is currently on display at The Literature Centre (TLC) in Fremantle, alongside Shaun Tan’s Cicada, The All New Must Have Orange 430 by Michael Speechley and That Christmas Feeling by Lili Wilkinson and Amanda Francey.

The exhibition runs until the end of Term 4. Contact TLC for opening days and times. Limited edition prints are available from my website

You can purchase a signed copy of the book from my website or any major bookstore.

One Tentacle Publishing – Lovelies Book Launch

Lovelies: Children's Book Launch by Australian Author Lisa Tiffen

In partnership with the fabulous Uki Post Office we launched Lisa Tiffen’s second children’s book – ‘Lovelies’ in June 2018.  Complete with sparkles, smiles and fanfare the book was launched to an excited audience by the lovely Jo Spiller (whose speech—according to Lisa—was quite possibly suitable for the royal wedding).

Lovelies’ is the second book in a series of quirky and fun picture books that deal with children’s emotions. We look forward to launching Lisa’s third book ‘Sorrows’ later in the year.

A huge thank you to the small businesses who came on board to provide food, flowers and fabulous entertainment on the day! We appreciated the hours of preparation and thought you put in to creating such fun, beautiful and delicious displays!!

You can purchase ‘Lovelies’ from Lisa’s website by clicking here.

One Tentacle Publishing – Grumps Book Launch

Grumps Book Launch by Lisa Tiffen and One Tentacle Publishing

My partner Tina and I have recently set up a small publishing company known as One Tentacle Publishing. Our aim is to nurture budding writers/illustrators through the creation of quirky, fun and artistic picture books.

We were very pleased to launch Lisa Tiffen’s first children’s book Grumps on December 2nd in Murwillumbah, and look forward to working with her on her second book in the series – The Lovlies – stay tuned for its release in 2018!

You can purchase a copy of Grumps directly from Lisa’s website.

Click here to purchase a copy

Book Launch: Crusts

Crusts Book Launch


On August 6th we had the great pleasure of launching Crusts – the latest picture book from award winning Author Danny Parker and illustrated by me.  Heidi’s Place Books in northern NSW were the proud host, turning their store front into an intergalactic landscape – complete with aliens and a crumbling planet.  A huge thank you to Danny Parker for flying all the way from Perth to be at the launch.. and for having such a fantastic imagination to create a book about a boy who wouldn’t eat his crusts!

Jo Spiller gave the official launch, providing many wonderful facts about crusts that we weren’t aware of before.  A children’s workshop was hosted prior to the launch for people to learn about the processes behind its creation.

Click here to purchase a signed copy of Crusts.


Book Launch: ‘Crusts’

'Crusts' Book Launch. Author Danny Parker, Illustrator Matt Ottley

Crusts, written by Danny Parker and illustrated by me, published by Little Hare/Hardie Grant, will be launched by the fabulous Jo Spiller at Heidi’s Place Books in Murwillumbah on 6th August, 2016.

I will conduct two workshops, for both children and adults, in writing and illustrating a picture book. All being well, the author Danny Parker from Western Australia, will be joining us at the launch and co-conducting the workshops.

To book a place contact Renae or Heidi on (02) 6672 6881 or email

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.

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.


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.