Michael Leunig is best loved as our wizard of whimsy, creator of quirky characters like Mr Curly, the duck and Vasco Pyjama. Asked how those creations were born, he says, ‘I felt maybe society lacked ... some enchanting quality, little mysteries and little poetic elements’.
But he’s no stranger to controversy, either, standing by his provocative cartoons on infant childcare and Israel, and receiving hate mail in response to his strong stance against the Iraq war. Above all, Leunig is the cartoonist who has consistently chronicled contemporary Australian life as he sees it – applying liberal doses of mystery, joy and provocation.
In conversation with Michael Williams at the Capitol Theatre, this event is a rare opportunity to watch one of our most beloved artists draw live – and to join him in looking back on his brilliant career.
Michael Leunig has been drawing and writing for Australian newspapers since 1965. He was born in Melbourne and now lives on a farm in north-eastern Victoria. His work has been widely published overseas and has been adapted in Australia for television, theatre and radio.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.
He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian and elsewhere.