South Korea Tour

Nami Island_MattOttley

In November I was invited to showcase my musical works for some of my picture books in South Korea.

The trip included performances at the Suncheon Picture Book Library in Suncheon, Gususan Library in Daegu, and a collaborative musical workshop with the South Korean Picturebook Association in Seoul. I was also fortunate to present a workshop for families and future teachers in Seoul as part of the South Korea Teacher’s College.

The trip was rewarding in so many ways, in particular having the opportunity to collaborate with other multi-modal artists in South Korea, Hyunjung Jang & Yumi Shin as well as many other musicians who accompanied me in my performances. I was inspired by the creativity, artistry and sophistication of picture books being created in South Korea.

I also had the opportunity to spend a relaxing day with our incredible host and organiser, Bomsan, on Nami Island – where I had performed previously in 2013 as part of the Nami Island International Children’s Festival. The island was as stunning as I had remembered it with all of the trees in full autumn splendor.

A huge thank you to Bomsan, and each of the organisations and individuals who helped make this tour so special for me.


Sound of Picture Books – 2019

The Sound of Picture Books returned to Perth for two weeks in September, 2019.

The first week featured the premier performance of my new composition in collaboration with Valanga Khoza, Dumazi and the Big Yellow Lion. This 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).

In the second week I worked with the wonderful author Kirli Saunders with my composition for The Incredible Freedom Machines.  All performances featured the West Australia Symphony Orchestra’s (WASO) superb string quintet, Yamaha’s Alf Demasi, my illustrations and music and Kirli’s narration.

We were fortunate to tour The Sound of Picture Books to Bunbury, where Home & Away (written by John Marsden) was also performed to help raise awareness around asylum seekers and refugee issues.

We look forward to the Sound of Picture Books being performed again in 2020, including a premier of a new work. If you or your school would like to see the performances please contact The Literature Centre for details.

Sound of Picture Books – September 2018

In September 2018 The Literature Centre, WASO and Yamaha undertook the biggest Sound of Picture Books collaboration to date. I had the privilege of four of my musical works, accompanied by my artworks from the books, being performed over a two week period to just under 5,000 students across Western Australia. I was thrilled to work with the author of The Incredible Freedom Machines, Kirli Saunders and the amazing Danny Parker (Tree & Parachute) to bring these picture books to life.

As issues surrounding asylum seekers and refugees continue to be of concern, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to perform Home & Away (written by John Marsden) to help create discussion around this complex issue.

The musicians from WASO were outstanding as ever, and Alf Demasi from Yamaha with both his prowess on the piano and his tech abilities, held the productions together. Thank you Alf.

We look forward to the Sound of Picture Books being performed again in 2019, including a new work Dumazi and the Lion, a collaboration between myself an Valanga Khoza. If you or your school would like to see the performances please contact The Literature Centre for details.

Teacup – Fringe Festival Free Performance

Teacup Perth Fringe Festival performance

I am so honoured to have been asked by Music Book to produce a 40 minute multi-model piece for the 2017 Perth Fringe Festival.

Working with some incredibly talented musicians, I have combined an original musical score, recorded sounds, projected images, narration and song to create a 40 minute adaptation of the award winning children’s book Teacup by Rebecca Young.  The original oil paintings that I completed for Teacup are now part of the State Library of WA‘s Peter Williams Collection and will be exhibited to the public from 20th January through to 24th March.

This will be the world premiere production of Teacup – One Boy’s Story, supported by the City of Perth, and it is something I hope will be enjoyed by all ages.  It is free for everyone to attend.

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'

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.

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.

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.