It was such a delight to chat with debut author and illustrator Wanda Gibson about her new release, ‘Three Dresses’. Wanda’s energy comes through in her story based on her childhood and holidays with her family in Far North Queensland. Her illustrations capture the joy of simple things such as walks on the beach, climbing sand hills and wearing her favourite new dress.

Thank you for sharing your story, Wanda! 🙂

About the Author/Illustrator:

Wanda Gibson is a Nukgal Wurra woman of the Guugu Yimithirr people (on her mum’s side) and lives in Hope Vale on the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. Her dad is a Yuuethawarra man and his country is around Cape Melville. Both of Wanda’s parents were Stolen Generation and were brought to Cape Bedford Mission when they were ten or twelve.

Wanda is a master weaver – she weaves baskets, birds and fish from dried grass. She is also a painter and completed a Diploma of Visual Arts at Cairns TAFE in 2014. Wanda has five kids, eleven grandkids and five great-grandkids.

Three Dresses can be purchased through UQP | Riverbend Books

WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?

Author and Illustrator Wanda Gibson, published by University of Queensland Press, 2024.

WHAT is your book about?

My book ‘Three Dresses’ is about holidaying and taking washing down the creek. Really, it’s about what we used to get in the early days when the Lutheran Church was responsible for us, they would send us a chest of second-hand clothes and toys. Every six months they wrapped up clothes and gave them to us for Christmas.

What is your favourite part of your book?

We were brought up to cherish those clothes, we used to enjoy wearing the new dresses that we got. It was a little sacred thing for us, we weren’t allowed to break or tear them. We used to treasure these things. I had a favourite blue dress with little yellow flowers (the one on the cover).

WHEN and how did you begin writing this book?

Author Maggie Hutchings found my story and art at Magpie Goose and she rang me up and said it was a good story for a children’s story book and I was surprised, it was just a little story for myself. I was just mucking around and I read it to her and she said, ‘That’s the story that I’m looking for!’ So, I kept on writing it.

WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?

Maggie liked my story, so I kept on writing and didn’t know how it would turn out. I wrote little stories at school and did competitions. I always liked to draw and I did paintings at the Hope Vale Art Centre.

WHY is this book meaningful to you?

These were the times that we treasured. Nowadays, we just jump in the car and go. In those days we enjoyed walks on the beach and having holidays there. It was also about survival as well. These days children are all on the phones, in our time we had to work to get something that we want. We had no money, we had to look for food, and there were rations.

OTHER information or experiences you’d like to share?

I wanted to do something that I never did before and tell people that if I can do this at the age of 77, they can do it while they are young and try and do something for themselves. If you want to do something get out there and do it because you are never too old to do anything.

Thank you, Wanda! It’s been an honour! 🙂

With thanks to Gemma Creegan for conducting this interview.

#threedresses #childhoodmemories #family #indigenousart #storytelling #picturebooks

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