The Czech Republic – Orchestral Score

Recording at Besedni Dum with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra

In October 2019 my partner, Tina, and I had the privilege to travel to Brno in the Czech Republic to record my 50 minute orchestral score with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Choir, Brno.

The recording will accompany my upcoming project: The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness, to be published by Dirt Lane Press.

It was an extraordinary honour to work with the orchestra and choir, under the superb conductorship of Mikel Toms, and to hear the music performed live for the first time.

I was joined by guest-composer Alf Demasi (Yamaha) and Ben Reynolds (Tenor), and was privileged to work with Jaroslav, the engineer.

This was all made possible through the generous support of the Gabby Arts Legacy Trust.

Art Post Uki – Exhibition – The art of children’s books

Art Post Uki Exhibition by Matt Ottley

In March I was very privileged to be chosen as the first artist to participate in a wonderful new initiative in our local community – Art Post Uki.

Art Post Uki is a roving exhibition of local artists works on display at the heritage post office, recently restored and renovated by the new post master, Gary Wall.  Gary is so excited to be able to bring an element of art and culture to the historic building.

“We are passionate about cultivating and fostering local home-grown talent, bringing employment opportunities and sharing a love for this historic, vibrant town, so what better way than launch a series of roving art exhibitions to support local artists.”

Located in the heart of the Northern Rivers’ historic village, Art Post Uki provides a vibrant space that integrates a passion for art and coffee within a Post Office. Built in 1909, and recently restored, the heritage-listed Uki Post Office provides a unique platform to showcase and support local artwork which reflects Uki and Northern NSW.

The exhibition featured a variety of images from my children’s books, along with prints, books and DVDs and was launched by the wonderful Lynden Stone. I feel very honored to have been the first artist to take part in this wonderful event, and look forward to seeing other local artist’s works in the future.

I hope you enjoy some of the photos from the night, courtesy of local photographers Alan and Perri Wain of Vibrant Imaging.

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

IBBY Australia Honour Book

Matt Ottley IBBY Award

I am honored to have been awarded the IBBY Australia Honour book for my illustration work in Teacup, an exquisitely written text by Rebecca Young and published by Scholastic Press.

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which helps to build bridges to international understanding through children’s books. IBBY is committed to the principles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the United Nations in 1990.

Every two years an Advisory Panel of three children’s literature experts makes the selection from all books published in the period. These outstanding books become Australia’s representative books in a traveling exhibition of about 150 international titles. The exhibition will be shown at the IBBY Congress in Athens in 2018, at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and in many other countries.

Teacup is the story of a boy ‘who had to leave home’ and his long and arduous journey by sea, bringing with him only a book, a bottle, a blanket and a teacup full of earth from the place where he grew up.


NSW Premier’s Literary Awards: ‘Teacup’

Matt Ottley painting an artwork for "Teacup" by Rebecca Young

I am delighted to announce that Teacup, a picture book written by Rebecca Young and published by Scholastic,  released mid last year, and illustrated by me, has just won the $30,000 Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature as part of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

The response by the public continues to overwhelm me. Teacup has now been printed in Catalonia and Canada, and is soon to be released in America!

The original artworks, large scale oil paintings, have been on display at The Literature Centre in Fremantle, with prints available for purchase from my website. Click here to see which prints are currently available.

A huge thank you to Rebecca Young for her soulful text, and to Ana Vivas and the fantastic team at Scholastic for agreeing to publish such a poetic work.

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.

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.

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.

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.”