May Gibbs

May Gibbs: an Australian classic

Posters, postcards and magazines

Our babies

In 1920 May Gibbs received one of the most important commissions of her career, when the NSW Department of Public Health asked her to design a promotional poster for its first Baby Week.

Gibbs would more than fulfil the brief, producing one of her largest artistic works and, arguably, her most celebrated and recognisable image: Dr Stork and Mrs Kookaburra.

[Dr Stork poster, 1918] / May Gibbs

The 'Dr Stork and Mrs Kookaburra' poster was an immediate success and had enduring popularity. 

To create this now iconic image, Gibbs took the traditional nursery tale notion of a newborn baby's delivery by stork and gave it an Australian twist with her addition of a kookaburra and gumleaf borders.   

The Public Health Department's Division of Maternal Welfare was keen to encourage mothers to attend the baby clinics then being established across the state. A smaller version of the poster was produced for widespread display anywhere that might catch the public eye. 

In 1931, when the Public Health Department issued its first handbook for mothers, Our Babies, its first handbook for mothers, this iconic image was used as the cover illustration, and it remained in use until 1959.

I hardly like delivering the goods, Mrs Kookaburra, them humans is so careless of 'em [picture]

Lone Hand

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Patriotic postcards

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This story has been developed with the support of the NSW Library Foundation

Made possible through a partnership with the Nutcote Trust and Graham & Charlene Bradley, and various benefactors.

Graham & Charlene Bradley,  Nutcote Trust,  Caroline Minogue,   Neutral Bay Public School,   Rob Thomas,  Rosemary Adams, Eve Bagnall, Philip Maxwell & Jane Tham, Kerry Jukes,  Peter Meurer,  Val Gowen,  David Frecker, Christine Fraser,  Jean Ashton,  Jenny Hall,  Catherine G Percy,  Elsa Atkin,  Henry Maurice Saxby,  Susan Byrnes,  Beth Lewis,  Ron Dupen,  J L Vigo,  Julia Selby,  Patricia Burgess, Millie Mills, Nancy Manefield, Marilyn Christiansen,  Jane Brummitt, Francis Hooper, Caryl G Fearnley Billinghurst, Christine Fraser, Genevieve Gibbs

Image copyright 

© The Northcott Society and Cerebral Palsy Alliance 2016

For further information on May Gibbs please visit the May Gibbs website and https://www.maygibbs.com.au/Nutcote, May Gibbs' former home.