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Matt Ottley was born in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, where he spent the first eleven and a half years of his life. His mother was a landscape artist, and as a child he and his brothers regularly travelled with her on painting excursions into the bush and around the villages of the Western Highlands.
After almost failing high school in Sydney, he lived the itinerate life of a stockman for some years on cattle stations in Queensland, before returning to Sydney to study fine arts and music. He then lived in the UK for three years, working as an equestrian artist. He is now one of Australia’s most popular children’s author/illustrators, and has been published in several different languages around the world. He also works as a composer and as a flamenco guitarist.
Matt has written and illustrated many wonderful picture books and just a few of them are: What Faust Saw (1995), Mrs Millie’s Painting (1997), Faust’s Party (2000), Faust in Space (2006) as well as illustrating Sailing Home (1996), The Bubble (2004) and Little Penguin (2005).
Matt won the Honour book award, for Luke's Way of Looking (1999) and his thought-provoking picture book with John Marsden Home and Away was awarded Honour Book of the year in 2009. Matt has won various prizes as a painter. Walker Books have published a new edition of Luke's Way of Looking as part of their classics series.
Matt’s book, Requiem for a Beast (CBCA Picture Book of the Year 2008) is a stunning piece for secondary and adult readers. This is an unprecedented work, moving between the forms of novella, picture book, graphic novel and musical work. Requiem for a Beast is a remarkable exploration of the parallels between a young man's battle for psychological freedom, and the processes that bind and blind us in society. Matt Ottley asks readers to be moved by beauty, truth, and ultimately the knowledge of their own humanity. The book contains a CD of orchestral music, composed by Matt Ottley, and Aboriginal song - another meeting of worlds like those in the words and images.
No Kind of Superman is a recent picture book collaboration between Matt and WA author Danny Parker. They also worked together to write and illustrate Tree which was launched with much fanfare by Shaun Tan at the Celebrate Reading National Conference at The Literature Centre on 26-27 October, 2012. The launch also included a live musical piece composed by Matt Ottley which accompanied images from the picture book as Danny narrated the story.
The Literature Centre is pleased to announce that Matt's original artwork for Tree will be on exhibition in Term 2, 2014. Students who participate in the Talented Young Writers' Programme in Fremantle where lucky enough to work with Matt in 2013.
In August, 2013 Danny Parker and Matt Ottley launched their latest picture book collaboration, Parachute, which is also a multi-modal work incorporating text, illustrations and music composed by Matt.
Matt Ottley was a guest presenter at the Celebrate Reading National Conference - The Inside Story on Quality Australian Literature for Children, held at The Literature Centre in Fremantle on 13-14 September, 2013.