Our babies | State Library of New South Wales

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 fulfill the brief, producing one of her largest artistic works and, arguably, her most celebrated and recognisable image: Dr Stork and Mrs Kookaburra

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 poster was an immediate success but the popularity of this image did not end there. 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. So 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, this iconic image was used as the cover illustration, and it remained in use until 1959.