Making a mural at the Perth Writers Festival


The Perth Writers Festival is over for another year. The weekend goes by so quick! I was very happy to be back this year as a presenter on the schools’ day and family day, and this year I also got to work on something a bit different – a massive mural.

Schools’ Day

PWF always has a dedicated day of sessions for schools on the Thursday, with the public elements of the Festival beginning on the Friday. I had a session with fellow Perth artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers where we talked about our differing approaches to illustration.

Then we got started on the mural.

Kyle’s latest picture book is On A Small Island and mine is The Last Viking Returns. Our books both relate to boats and water, and that’s probably all they have in common. So the basic idea was to paint a seascape – half in Kyle’s style, half in mine. Kids would help out during the festival by either colouring in a boat template we had prepared, or designing their own. Once they had cut out their boat they could stick it onto the mural. At the end of the festival we would have a collaborative community artwork.

We started off by painting the ocean. Kyle came prepared – he brought painting clothes. I did not.

“so, uh … what are we doing again?”

The mural begins to take shape (no pun intended)

the finished background


 The Giant Book

Visitors to the Festival could also look through a copy of the enormous book that was given to the Little Girl Giant. Kyle and I helped local primary school students put the book together late last year.

Family Day

This was our busiest day by far. We started at the mural at 9am and had a steady stream of kids helping to add boats until 3pm.

Here are some pics from the day.

I also got to do a talk for families, all about Vikings and Norse gods.

sketching Thor and Mjollnir
lifting an invisible box

Then I got to sign some books!

While I was at the signing table, my girlfriend rolled up the sketches from my talk and brought them over to me. I didn’t notice her arrive because I was busy signing and talking to kids, but she told me she placed the sketches on the table to my right. I never noticed the sketches. They weren’t on the table when I had finished signing. But my girlfriend swore she dropped them there; she even had a photo to prove it. And when she looked at the photo again, she noticed something she hadn’t seen the first time … and everything made sense.

signing books while a small child lifts my sketches

Thanks to the Perth Writers’ Festival for having me back this year – I had a great time. And thanks to everyone who came to my talk, or helped with the mural, or came to get a book signed.


Author: James Foley

James Foley makes children’s books for children who read books. If you’re a child and you’re eating his books, you’re doing it wrong. His books include Brobot, Dungzilla, Gastronauts, Chickensaurus, Toffle Towers, My Dead Bunny and There's Something Weird About Lena. James lives in Perth with his wife, 2 kids, and a labrador. He is a massive Marvel movie nerd and comes from a long line of queuing enthusiasts. Follow him on FB/twitter/insta/youtube @jamesfoleybooks, or at .

2 thoughts on “Making a mural at the Perth Writers Festival”

  1. Didn’t you give some sketches away after the talk? Anyway, thanks for the entertaining and informative talk.

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