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Robyn Wells, Joshua Button and Senator Patrick Dodson at the launch of Steve goes to Carnival. Photo: Julia Rau Photography
Following a spirited opening performance of Rio-style percussion from the colourful Wasamba Carnival Drummers, Senator Patrick Dodson officially launched the book and Vivian Flores, a member of the local Brazilian community, welcomed the crowd in Portuguese.
Senator Dodson – who also launched Joshua's first book, Joshua and the Two Crabs in 2008 – spoke about the importance of the book in terms
of its encouraging parables about "valuing friendships, of being true to others of difference and respecting and being accepting of diversity."
"The positive messages in this book are revealed magically to us, as we go along the journey," he said.
"They are about friendship in unlikely places, acts of unexpected kindness and the power of music to transport and connect us to people and places. It [also] ultimately gives truth to that line, 'don’t judge a book by its cover', because an openness to what life has to offer is enshrined
within this book," he added.
Magabala Chairperson, Edie Wright also spoke about the positive impact that education has had on Joshua's life and the vital role that Robyn
has played in nurturing and supporting his development.
"This is what we all strive and hope for. Now Josh is a teaching assistant at St Mary’s College, a published author of two books and an accomplished artist. It has been a joy for us to witness Joshua’s artistic, personal and professional development over time," she said.
"Robyn Wells is a passionate educator and talented artist," she added. "She’s invested in supporting young people of the Kimberley to realise
their potential [and] understands the power of storytelling as a vehicle for developing curiosity and skills. Robyn is a very focused person, who allows things to take their time."
Joshua – who is descended from the Walmajarri people of the East Kimberley in WA – and Robyn – who has a degree in Fine Arts and has lived
in the Kimberley for many years – first worked together as part of a literacy program at St Mary's Primary School, the result of which was
Joshua's celebrated first picture book, Joshua and the Two Crabs when he was 14.
In 2006, through Joshua’s love of gorillas and fascination with Brazil, the duo sat down at Robyn’s kitchen table in Broome and began Steve goes to Carnival. Inspired by 1970s Rio de Janeiro, Joshua’s remarkable figurative art style and Robyn’s vivid textures and filigree have transformed the carnival city into a kaleidoscope of animals, flamboyant characters and urban streetscapes.
Over their ten-year creative journey, Joshua and Robyn's partnership has evolved from one of mentor and student, to a true artistic collaboration between adults and friends. We are immensely proud of all that they have achieved and congratulate them on their well-deserved success.