Richard Roxburgh Book Launch: Artie and the Grime Wave

18 October 2016

In Canberra for a book launch, signing and an intimate lunch held at Teatro Vivaldi Richard Roxburgh was back at his alma mater, the Australian National University, in the ‘theatre precinct’ where he spent many a happy time doing what he loved better than studying economics. He honed his acting skills at NIDA and that career has brought us exceptional characterisations of Clever Green in Rake and playing Roger Rogerson on television, on film in Moulin Rouge and Van Helsing, performed with the Sydney Theatre Company and directed the film Romulus, My Father. The consummate professional in all media.  But Roxburgh has another talent as a story teller.

It evolved from that wonderful ritual of reading bedtime stories that give vent to our own imagination and at times take us into that other world of our own creativity with homegrown versions enhanced for the occasion.  Reading to his two boys, Rapahel and Miro, realising there were stories he could enjoy and using the opportunity to test read his own stories was the genesis of Artie and the Grime Wave.

Delving back into his own ‘free range’ lifestyle as a youngster , using his memories of Aunty-boy, the kind of spinster Aunty many of us had and creating a range of characters to delight and scare the pants off his demographic, Roxburgh created Artie and his best mate Bumshoe who take us on a adventure where good and bad, preposterous and hilarious remind of times when kids were off and about finding adventures, learning life lessons and dealing with bullies, family, school and the vicissitudes of growing up in a country town.

As the writer and illustrator this little book is fun and shows Roxburgh thoroughly enjoyed creating it. I love the illustrations that appear to be drawn “with a thumbnail dipped in tar”, as scratchy and exaggerated versions of the characters with quirky names to match and descriptions to make you laugh. The mix of family dynamics are wonderful , the language has a rhythm and Artie gamely taking his “step into the unknown” a good lesson for all youngsters too protected these days from themselves.

And a note to add that running late for this gathering meant pictures were hastily taken before Roxburgh had to race back to Sydney; all the ladies wanted pictures with the main man. I know why!