Melbourne, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington and London. Whitcombe & Tombs Limited, no date .
A fine copy of this book of poetry about a gum-leaf chewing koala written and illustrated by Harold Gaze, known for his ‘distinct personal style’. (Muir, A history of Australian childrens book illustration, p. 77) The Chewg-um-blewg-um is the third part of the “Mite Merry” series, valued for its rich colour plates. The imaginative and atmospheric fairyscapes of Gaze’s expressive watercolours reproduce beautifully.
Born in New Zealand in 1885, a whimsical artist with outstanding talent, Harold Gaze is one of the more elusive children's writers and illustrators. We know little with exactitude about his life. After being rejected for active service, Gaze reputedly studied at various art schools in London for a period before publishing his first (recorded) book illustrations in New York in 1917: I Wish I Could Fly by Rose Strong Hubbell. At the close of World War I, Gaze moved to Melbourne and launched his career with The Wicked Winkapong in 1918.
Ever opting to paint to a scale suitable for exhibition, Gaze exhibited at the Victorian Artists Society Annual Exhibition in May 1919, the same year as The Chewg-um-blewg-um was released. His work over the next few years "established him as the most original illustrator of children's books after Ida Rentoul Outhwaite." (Holden, Robert. A Golden Age: Visions of Fantasy, p. 82)
In 1927, commercial publishing success in the United States led Gaze to settle in Pasadena where he continued his dual career as a munitions expert, either remaining here until his death in 1962 or returning to England in 1959 and settling in Hampstead for his final years, dying in 1963. Solo shows of his fantasy paintings in Los Angeles earned him the appellation of ‘The Bubble Man’. It is said that Gaze worked with the Disney studios on Fantasia. Work by Harold Gaze is held in the National Museum of American Illustration, the Pasadena Museum of History, and the San Diego Museum of Art, among others.
Quarto, 245 x 180 mm, three tipped-in plates (two in full colour), 32 pages, black & white drawings in text; a fine copy, stitch-sewn, with the pictorial wrappers tied on with the original blue ribbon. Copies in such fine condition are extremely scarce.
Price (AUD): $1,200.00 other currencies