People far too often claim that children would like this picture book or would reject that one ... but who are these children they are talking about? Nobody ever says adults would like this or that kind of book! As with adults, there are children with a well developed taste and others with a lesser developed taste in books – children who might be visually illiterate. There is, therefore, surely place for both the picture books with pink bunnies and the ones telling complicated tales about cannibals.
Die Burger, 20 September 2004.
Interview with Francois Smith, South Africa
There are almost always birds in my illustrations. They are my favourites in the animal kingdom. A bird is the ideal animal; it carries no baggage along, it sees so much more than any other animal. It may sound silly, but it has happened a couple of times that a bird perched on my shoulder ... once even on my head ... and soon afterwards, something exciting happened to me. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I must have been a bird in a previous life.
Rotterdams Dagblad, 23 April 2005.
Interview with Dijlan van Vlimmeren, Netherlands
Your works are being exhibited in the Kunsthal museum for contemporary art in Rotterdam at the moment. Are you happy about this recognition? Grobler has to smile about this. “Yes, that is true, one does enjoy this and it is certainly an honour and a form of recognition. It is really great that the Kunsthal also exhibits other forms of art than what is traditionally considered to be art works. In the post-modernist spirit the clearly defined boundaries between the art genres are disappearing. I find that refreshing. But I have no mission. The medium for my art is in the end a picture book and not a museum wall.”
Trouw, 24 July 2002.
Interview with Iris Ludeker, Netherlands
“The reader has to realise that there is so much more to a book than what is contained between two covers”, says Grobler “The book should take you on a journey and should widen your own horizon.” With the workshops he presents, Grobler is doing exactly that: he teaches children amongst other things to make fantasy elements out of redundant objects and he also takes them along on a book journey.
“To many children books are things they only see at schools. I would like people to realise that books should not be confined to schools as they are part of our everyday life.”
Interview with Stephanie Nieuwoudt,
His previous picture book ‘Please frog, just one sip’, had a certain moral: One can choose to solve problems with humour instead of conflict. There doesn’t seem to be any message in Little bird’s ABC? “No, but even with Please frog ... it was not deliberate. It was simply folklore which I changed into a
story. If you want to hear a message, go to church. If you want to learn something, go to school. But when you read a book, you have to enjoy it. I am not asking for anything more”.
Noordhollands Dagblad, 26 April 2005.
Interview with Hanneke van den Berg,
Statements on the artist’s contribution to SA children’s literature, written for the dossier of the Hans Christian Andersen nomination:
Piet Grobler has a characteristic personal style and consistently produces work of high quality. He stubbornly refuses to settle for anything inferior, whether it is in selecting the tools of his craft, selecting suitable stories, or dealing with publishers. He has the ability to adapt to the special requirements of each text he works with; working fast but taking his time to get the atmosphere of the story exactly right, and then adding his own subtext in the background details to the story. His illustrations are truly works of art; subtle, refined and imaginative. Painstaking attention is given to the minutest details. And there is a noticeably humorous touch: slightly off-beat and sometimes absurd, playful, satirical, intensely creative, engaging and without pretence.
Head of Children’s Services: Bellville Library; vice-president: IBBY South Africa. May 2007.
The world created in Piet Grobler’s illustrations is a happy one that brims with life. It is a gentle world full of humour and love, a world without prejudice where a mixture of people, angels, birds and beasts communicate and act on equal footing. It is a fantasy world, guaranteed to make you smile….
…. Grobler’s illustrations not only complement the meaning of the verbal text visually. They become an aesthetic code in themselves that changes the narrative dramatically and/or supplies an additional meaning. His work is a densely interwoven structure where cultural, verbal and visual codes are inextricably linked.
Maritha Snyman, Professor in Information Science, University of Pretoria