Gumnut Babies Sculpture

Gumnut Babies Sculpture, Stirling Gardens, Perth, Western Australia

Public Art : Gumnut Babies

Sculptor : © Claire Bailey

Date : 2001

Description : Two bronze Gumnut Babies frollicking in the garden. The two gumnuts are based on the characters Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie created by author and illustrator May Gibbs in 1918.

Location : Hidden in the vegetation (Barrack Street side) of Stirling Gardens, Perth, Western Australia.

Inscription :

Gumnut Babies
Sculpture based on the work of
MAY GIBBS 1877-1969
Author and Artist
May Gibbs spent some of her childhood in WA.
The Gumnut babies were created from her memories of
Western Australia's flowers, to encourage children to love
the Australian bush.
"Winky took the Nuts out into the busy streets of the
bad city. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie looked about them
in amazement. There was so much to see."

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie 1918


History of the Gumnut Babies : Cecilia May Gibbs (17th January, 1877 – 27th November, 1969) was an Australian children's author, illustrator, and cartoonist, best known for her gumnut babies (also known as "bush babies" or "bush fairies"), and the book Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

May Gibbs was born in Kent , England but in 1881 she and her family moved to South Australia. Not particularly enamored with the harsh environment, May's mother, Cecilia, took the children and sailed home to England. In 1885 they returned and moved to a farm property in Harvey, Western Australia.

At around 8 years of age May took to painting and writing about her surroundings in Harvey. This bush setting would lay the foundations for her future work. May and her family left the south west community when she was 10. For several years she traveled back and forth from England before finally settling in Sydney in 1913.

It was 1913 when the gumnut babies made their first appearance, on the cover of a children's book "Missing Buttons" written by Ethel Turner (Famous for penning Seven Little Australians) which May had illustrated. In 1918 May's first book about the gumnut babies, appropriately titled Gumnut Babies was published. This was followed two years later with her most loved book, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, the adventures of two mischievious gumnut babies.

While also writing and illustrating children's books May also maintained two comic strips, Bib and Bub 1924-1967 and Tiggy Touchwood 1925-1931, for opposition newspapers.

When May Gibbs died in 1969 she bequeathed the copyright from the designs of her bush characters and her stories to UNICEF,  Northcott Disability Services (formerly The NSW Society for Crippled Children) and The Spastic Centre of NSW.

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