Narelle Oliver was born in 1960 and grew up in Toowoomba, Queensland. Her father was a keen amateur photographer and her mother a watercolourist and art teacher. As a child Narelle was constantly exposed to the delights of artistic creativity, and not surprisingly she herself enjoyed drawing, painting and reading. A highlight of her childhood was regular family trips into the countryside to gather ideas and material for various artworks.
When she began to study for a Bachelor of Education degree, Narelle majored in design and printmaking. It was during this period that she discovered the world of contemporary children’s picture books. After graduating she taught for several years at the Queensland School for the Deaf, ‘living and breathing picture books and sign language’. She also tutored in the Language and Children’s Literature courses offered by the Faculty of Education at the University of Southern Queensland.
Narelle is unusual among Australian illustrators in that she writes all her own books. Interestingly, she has published a book that she has written but not illustrated! – a title in the Omnibus Solo series, What a Goat!, illustrated by fellow Queenslander David Cox. Narelle lives in Brisbane with her husband Greg, an environmental scientist, and their children Jessie and Liam.
Most of the illustrations in Narelle’s picture books use linocut prints and linocut rubbings often combined with other media such as coloured pencil, water colour, pastel, collage and even photography – depending on the feel required for the story.