Matt Ottley’s New Multi-Modal Release

Polymath Matt Ottley is a prize-winning author, illustrator and composer whose latest creation The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness is a cutting edge, large-scale, multi-modal project weaving together the worlds of literature, music and visual art in the poignant story of one boy’s journey into mental illness.

A mesmerising visual and auditory tour de force about beauty and resilience, society and belief, its central hope is for a greater understanding and embracing of difference. The narrative unfolds around the metaphor of a tree, growing within the boy, whose flower is ecstasy and whose fruit is sadness.

This luminous, multi-faceted work published by Dirt Lane Press, is inspired by the experiences of Ottley, himself who has lived with bipolar disorder all his life and been hospitalised on numerous occasions in mental health facilities. Having first-hand experience of the prejudices and challenges of mental illness, Matt’s aim is to offer a sensory insight through words, music and images into the experiences of those who suffer from such debilitating illnesses, particularly psychosis.

Ottley lives in Bundjalung country in northern NSW. His most recent picture book, How to make a bird (with Meg McKinlay), won the CBCA’s Picture Book of the Year Award and was joint winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Children’s Literature. Matt has also composed scores for many of his picture books, which have been performed by orchestras and musicians across Australia and internationally.

The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness comes with a CD recording of Matt Ottley’s symphony, which forms pat of this multi-modal work.

Suitable for age 15+

More information at

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