Monday, December 29, 2014
This work, Brolga Chorus 1 is by Gumbaynggirr woman Alison Williams. While born in Sydney in 1968, Alison has obviously retained her North Coast connections.
Do have a browse of the Gallery's site. There are some very nice pieces there My thanks to Regional Arts NSW (@RegionalArtsNSW) for introducing me to the Gallery.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Binks Turnbull Dowling’s For crying out loud (published by the author, Dorrigo 1997) is another of those autobiographical memoirs of early life and young adulthood that have so enriched our understanding of New England life and history. It’s also a good if sometimes confusing read.
The book is broken into somewhat overlapping chronological segments. In part, these explore and describe Binks’ life up to her marriage. However, For crying out loud is also an examination of her parents, their personalities and the complexities of relationship, seeking to understand. The book is dedicated to the father that she greatly loved, a father she rarely saw after she was sent to Kotupna at the age of five, a father who died when she was fifteen. Finally, the book centres on life on Kotupna itself, a large station in the Fall country to the east of Armidale and the heart of the large extended Turnbull family.
In some ways, the book is a story of loss, one replicated by other New England writers including Judith Wright and Judith Wallace. Loss of family connection, decline and finally loss of Kotupna itself.
There are sad elements in the story that made me uncomfortable, a reminder of the uncertainties and complexities of life. Apart from the story of her parents, I wondered about the inarticulate nature of the Turnbull men, about the break-ups and relationship failures. Sometimes, it seemed to me that Kotupna had become a devouring beast.
I know that members of the Turnbull family would probably not share that perception. When Binks asked her mother years’ later why she stayed at Kotupna, Jean looked at her strangely and said simply “But I was happy”. The love they all had for Koputna, Binks is no exception, shines through.
The book ends with Binks’ marriage to Ian and the establishment of a long and obviously happy relationship. The book was written because their children insisted. I am glad they did.
In the next post in this series I will look in more detail at the book itself.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
For those who do not know Walcha, it is a small town (population about 1,600) on the southern New England Tablelands.
Some time ago, the Council decided to turn Walcha into an open air sculpture gallery.
While I already knew of Stephen King and had seem some of the sculptures,, I had no idea of their extent. In fact, a friend and I discovered all this by accident.
We were coming back from Armidale and stopped in Walcha for breakfast. After breakfast, we went for a short walk and discovered just some of the sculptures.
We had to go, a long drive lay in front of us, but we said that we would come back.
I have still to manage the time, although each time I go through Walcha I find a little more.
My friend and I have agreed and soon. We are coming back for a whole day just to walk the sculptures.
Monday, December 08, 2014
Australian sculptor Bronwyn Joy Oliver (née Gooda) 22 February 1959 – 11 July 2006) was born at Gum Flat, west of Inverell, Her parents were Milton, a farmer turned greenkeeper, and Wendy, who worked in a pharmacy. As a child, she attended weekend art classes in Inverell run by Ian Howard. Howard went on to become dean of Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education, now the University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts, where Oliver would later study and would become her mentor.
As dux of her school, her parents expected her to go on to university. However, Oliver wished to pursue a creative career. When she told her parents of her plans, her mother replied, "Darling, your father and I are very pleased you're going to art school, but if you'd been a son, I think we'd be a little disappointed.! A rift subsequently developed between her and her family that resulted in her having no contact with them for 25 years.
Graduating from Alexander Mackie, Oliver won a New South Wales Travelling Art Scholarship in 1981, completing a Masters degree at Chelsea School of Art in 1983. Her work was influenced by Richard Deacon, Antony Gormley and Martin Puryear under whom she studied while in England. In 1984 she won a Moet & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship, then In 1988 she was granted a period as artist-in-residence in the city of Brest on the coast of Brittany, where she studied Celtic metalworking techniques.
A sculptor for her entire artistic career, Oliver used paper, cane or fibreglass for her early works. However, she found "fibreglass hazardous and paper too impermanent", and for most of her career she worked in metal.
The metals used for her creations varied: the monumental Vine, a 16.5-metre-high sculpture in the Sydney Hilton (photo), was fabricated in aluminium, as was the Brisbane sculpture Big Feathers; however most, such as Palm and the 2002 sculpture Lock, were crafted in copper. All 25 works included in the 1995 publication, Bronwyn Oliver: mnemonic chords, were made in copper, though a handful also utilised other materials such as bronze, lead or, in one case, fibreglass.
Oliver was always preoccupied with "what materials will do". Fink observed that "[f]rom the beginning, Oliver has been interested in things that are made from the inside out, and her works often give cryptic evidence of their manufacture". That evidence of manufacture was not confined to the works themselves: friends and art critics observed the injuries and marks she carried as a result of working with such unforgiving material.
Oliver's sculptures are admired for their tactile nature, their aesthetics, and the technical skills demonstrated in their production. In her later career, most of her pieces were commissions, both public and private. Recognition of her work included selection as a finalist in the inaugural Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award in 2000, inclusion in the National Gallery of Australia's 2002 National Sculpture Prize exhibition, and being shortlisted for the 2006 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award. Her works are held in major Australian collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Oliver did not intellectualise her creativity: she preferred to talk about the process of creating her artworks rather than their meanings. Asked about how she approached her art, she stated:
My work is about structure and order. It is a pursuit of a kind of logic: a formal, sculptural logic and poetic logic. It is a conceptual and physical process of building and taking away at the same time. I set out to strip the ideas and associations down to (physically and metaphorically) just the bones, exposing the life still held inside.
While Oliver was reluctant to discuss meaning in her works, critics have identified recurring themes. Hannah Fink, like art critic John McDonald, noted that there is a pattern to the shapes and structures in Oliver's work. Fink described this as "a consistent vocabulary of elemental forms – the spiral, meander, loop and sphere – in a repertoire of signature archetypes", while McDonald referred to them as organisms, or their remains.
Ideas were often first sketched by Oliver, before she moved to construction in three dimensions. When preparing commissions, she would draw on the ideas of clients or the nature of the site. For large works she created maquettes (or models), sometimes in plasticine, on other occasions using copper wire or, in the case of her 2002 sculpture Globe, wood and metal.
Major pieces were created at Crawfords Casting foundry in Enfield in Sydney's inner western suburbs. Although the foundry would fabricate the elements of the sculptures, Oliver would still undertake the initial stages, training foundry staff and supervising their activity. Some of the pieces assembled to create the sculptures were made using copper rod, while others were formed using the lost-wax casting technique. Individual pieces would take up to two months to complete.
Oliver would produce the more delicate works herself. Many were created by crafting and joining wire to create abstract forms. These were built around moulds, twisting the metal into place with pliers, before severing it with wirecutters. Joins were soldered or brazed (though in some pieces, the wire was woven). In Web (2002), copper pieces were sewn together using wire.
In her early twenties, Bronwyn Gooda married fellow sculptor and film maker Leslie Oliver. The marriage ended in what Oliver would describe as a “ a distressing divorce". Later she established a long term relationship with wine writer Huon Hooke.
Oliver was sometimes characterised as reclusive in both the artistic and social worlds. Her teacher and long-time associate Professor Ian Howard described her as having "an underlying and at times painful distrust of the relationships that are part of our everyday lives". In the last period of her life she seems to have experienced increasing personal difficulties, becoming "reclusive, obsessive, anxious" as well as "difficult and impatient, and completely obsessed with her diet."
Bronwyn committed suicide on 11 July 2006. Trying to understand, Ian Howard ended her obituary in this way:
Perhaps I go too far in the writing of an obituary. But you must understand, Bronwyn was one of COFA's own, one of our very best. And much earlier, she was the brilliant little 10 year-old kid I taught in Saturday morning art classes in rural NSW, already clearly destined for great successes, but not this singular failure.
In 2011, it was announced that a sculpture gallery at the College would be named after her.
Note on sources
This piece draws very heavily from the Wikipedia article on Bronwyn. Other sources are individually identified.
Friday, December 05, 2014
Tamworth retailer Bruce Treloar died on Saturday 16 August 2014 aged 88 after a period of ill health ended by a recent battle with cancer and finally pneumonia.
The night before he had shared a beer with two of his sons John and James. The photo from the Northern Daily Leader shows the three (John, Bruce, James) in 2011 at the 120th celebrations of the Treloars’ retailing history.
According to his sons, Bruce Treloar’s defining characteristics were his love and pride for his family, for his school, for his business and for his hometown.
“I think that defining quality was his love and pride for what he became involved in and the words that come together to best describe Bruce Treloar are that everything he loved, he was so proud of,” John Treloar said at the time of his father’s death.
“And that extended to things like rugby, his schools, the development corporation, the chamber, the council.”
Bruce Morison Treloar was born in Tamworth on July 23, 1926, the second son of Thomas John Treloar (Jack) and his wife, Mollie (nee Woodhill). As well as serving in the First World War and running the family business, T J Treloar and Company founded in 1889, Jack also served as the federal member for Gwydir from 1949 to 1953.
From an early age, Bruce was aware that although he had a comfortable upbringing, many others were not so lucky. At Tamworth Public School during the Depression, he used to take his shoes off on the way to school and hide them under a hedge. He would then go barefoot, as many of the other children did, and put his shoes back on, on the way home.
Bruce attended Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) for a short time before joining The Armidale School (TAS) where, under the watchful eye of the headmaster, Gordon Fisher, he flourished. He was appointed a prefect, played in the first rugby and cricket teams and retained a close association with the school for the rest of his life.
Back in 2007, I made a short comment from my perspective on Gordon Fisher’s influence ( The Armidale School - G A (Gordon) Fisher). Interesting to see the influence of GAF on Mr Treloar’s life.
Amy Ripley records that in October 1944 Treloar left Armidale and enlisted in the navy. I blinked a little at this. Armidale? Surely Tamworth? Then I realised that he must have joined the navy straight from TAS. That was a strange time at the school; many of the boys saw school as an interregnum before joining the services. They were meant to study and comply with rules now, but with the knowledge that soon all bets would be off. This affected every aspect of school life.
Bruce Treloar served on HMAS Warramunga in the Pacific, and was in Tokyo Bay on the day the Japanese signed the Peace Treaty. He never forgot this time, and when the Treloar company subdivided land in East Tamworth, he used Warramunga, Arunta and Eight Bells as street names.
After his discharge in 1946, Treloar headed home to begin his career in the family business. He proved to have a natural aptitude for retail, was committed, enthusiastic and instinctively understood his customers. In 1949, always thinking of the bigger picture, Treloar travelled to Europe to look at the latest retailing trends. It turned out to be a fruitful trip in another way, too, as he met Jan Henderson on the ship coming home. They were married in 1950.
Jack Treloar died in 1953. Bruce, aged 27, became managing director,of the family firm. He was a considerable success, growing the company to become one of the state's leading department stores, holding its own against bigger rivals.
By the mid-'60s, Treloar’s was very profitable with 165 employees. However, Treloar was always thinking about ways to develop the company. Believing that to give their country customers competitive prices, businesses needed to band together, he led the drive to establish buying groups. By 1975, Treloars was a member of seven different buying groups, some of which still exist today, such as Mitre 10 and Frontline.
Again in contextual terms, this was a feature of many country businesses seeking to content with challenges of scale and distance. It was also a special feature of the entrepreneurial climate within Tamworth. The Higginbotham controlled Broadcast Amalgamated was wrestling with the same challenges and responding in similar ways.
Bruce Treloar was also active in industry and community matters. He served as a councillor of the Retail Traders Association (RTA) of NSW for 36 years and was the only country member to have served as president of the RTA. This contribution to retailing was recognised in 1993, when he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to business and commerce.
Treloar was also the founding president of the Tamworth Chamber of Commerce and served as the inaugural chairman of the Tamworth Development Corporation. He was on the board of, and chairman of, the Northern Daily Leader, a director of New England Network Television and the Tamworth Building & Investment Society, and a president of Tamworth Legacy.
Despite his busy professional life, Treloar's heart was at the family home in Raglan Street. He and Jan, who was always at his side, had four children and, as his eldest son, John, said: "He was loving, supportive and so very proud of us."
Bruce Treloar is survived by children Jane, John, James and Bruce and their partners, eight grandchildren and sister Gai. Jan died in 2011.
This story is drawn especially from Amy Ripley’s obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald of 25 November 2014, supplemented by the Northern Daily Leader report of 19 August 2014. Background interpretation is my own.
As I wrote it I was thinking especially of James Treloar and Rob Richardson, among others. In 2011, the name Treloar finally vanished from the Tamworth retailing scene in the face of continuing change. We have to adjust to change, but it can be very hard to keep the family tradition of contribution continuing in the face of change. To my mind, James and Rob have done that, as I have tried to. I admire their efforts.
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
The new carrier is based in Brisbane rather than Tamworth, but Paul is still focusing on New England routes including the Tamworth-Brisbane service.
This post is just an entry post. I will add a little of the history and policy context later.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
A short note to record something that I don’t have time to follow up now.
The ABC reports that Byron Bay residents are pushing for Australia's first community-owned clean energy generator. I am not sure that it is the first, I saw a reference earlier to a Victorian plan, but it’s still an interesting concept; a regional not-for-profit energy company - Northern Rivers Energy – that hopes to rival the big retailers.
At the end of 2013, Arts NSW called for responses to a discussion paper on a proposed NSW cultural policy. It seemed a very Sydney centric document that also tried to stitch together all sorts of other policy objectives and activities. That’s actually a feature of all the NSW mega agency clusters. They want to integrate what they do into an apparently coherent narrative even where things are in fact not, or were not, connected.
In January 2014 the New England Writers’ Centre responded. We summarised our approach in this way:
As a broad general comment, we found some difficulty in determining the relevance of the paper to the Centre’s role in the promotion of writers and writing in Northern New South Wales and indeed, more broadly, to the development of arts and cultural activities within Northern New South Wales. Similar issues arose in the context of the various action plans referred to in the discussion paper, plans that are meant to be integrated in some way with an arts and cultural policy.
Part of the problem lies in the division within the strategies between Sydney and NSW, combined with a top down approach that seeks to interlink Sydney and the rest of the state in the form of a cobweb with the different strands centered on Sydney. One consequence is insufficient recognition of diversity within NSW and the way this affects the on-ground patterns of life, including interactions between areas outside Sydney. To pursue the cobweb analogy, there are many smaller overlapping webs within NSW that exist independently of any interconnection with Sydney and may indeed be in competition with Sydney.
The brief comments that follow amplify this point. We have tried to structure them to be helpful to the general intent of the strategy, while also pointing to the deficiencies as we see them in the current approach.
In response to a comment on another blog, I promised to put the paper on line. I have now posted it to Scribd. It’s not a very long submission, a bit over ten pages. I think that its quite good.
If you can find the time, have a browse and give me your reactions.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Mr Harris owns and operates a large successful grazing operation in the New England and has had a long association with the University, having served on its Council since 1994. He is the great-grandson of Thomas Richmond Forster, who donated the land and homestead from which the University of New England was established. His mother, Anne Harris, also had a long association with the University.
Vice-Chancellor Annabelle Duncan said Mr Harris has made an outstanding contribution to the University while serving on Council and was an excellent choice as Chancellor.
“Mr Harris has the vision, knowledge and understanding of the higher education sector to lead the University of New England in an increasingly competitive, complex and changing environment,” Professor Duncan said.
“His strong commitment to this University is evident through his work on Council, as Chair of various Council Committees and as Deputy Chancellor from 2001-2007.”
Mr Harris said it was an honour to be appointed as Chancellor.
“My involvement with UNE spans two decades and in that time I have seen the University grow and prosper. The University is an integral part of the fabric of the New England and plays an important role in providing education to people in regional areas,” Mr Harris said.
“I am proud to be part of the UNE community and I am passionate about ensuring this University remains competitive and innovative. I look forward to working with Professor Duncan in shaping the strategic direction of the University.”
Jan McClelland has been appointed as the Deputy Chancellor of UNE Council.
Ms McClelland is an experienced chief executive and senior executive in government administration, management consultant, chairman and non-executive director of organisations in the government, private and not for profit sectors.
She has been a member of the UNE Council since 2000
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Under the overall cuts, the ABC will shed almost 400 jobs, close five regional radio outposts, shut its Adelaide television production studio and all-non news television production outside of Sydney and Melbourne.
At local level, 1233 ABC is being downgraded from a metropolitan to regional station. As a consequence, it will lose 9 of its 27 staff plus have shows axed. Carol Duncan's show will be replaced by the James Valentine show from Sydney.
looking at the Newcastle reaction, I'm not sure which hurts most, the status downgrade or the job and program losses. Whichever way it goes, it is another reduction in the capacity of the media in general to report at local and regional level.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
In today’s short post on my personal blog, How to browse the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) collection, I provided a link to a new way to explore at least some of NERAM’s large collection. In this post, I want to look at one current exhibition, The story of munificence. This painting from the exhibition is Rupert Bunny’s 1922 work, A Sunny Day.
The new exhibition is being held to mark the launch of Munificence: the Story of the Howard Hinton Collection. This fascinating book includes essays by Barry Pearce and Caroline Downer, reproductions of over one hundred of the key works from the collection, including paintings, prints and drawings, and a complete catalogue listing of the collection.
A proper book on the Hinton Collection is long overdue. There was one earlier, a somewhat sumptuous piece, but its been out of print for many decades.
The book is available from NERAM for $39.95. (Friends of NERAM $34.95). It’s not quite clear how you should buy the book if, like me, you are outside Armidale. I think that the best bet is to contact NERAM via their web site.
As an aside to NERAM and indeed all New England institutions, remember that the New England diaspora is actually far larger than you immediate local audience. Please make it as easy as you can for us to interact with you (and buy!).
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
This week, my new adult novel, first in a big new series called Trinity, is coming out.
I’m going to be celebrating even more than usual, because this one’s had a long hard road to publication, with nearly four years and several rejections before it was accepted. Even though I’m a well-established author with many books to my name, it looked like this one was fated to remain homeless. ‘Too different’ seemed to be the verdict. A mix of urban fantasy, romance and conspiracy thriller, set in modern Russia, it was outside of my usual genre of YA fiction, and clearly also outside the comfort zone of many publishers.Follow the link above for more details.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Just in case you think that this is only an issue in the west, Tenterfield has the 10th worst life expectancy, Cessnock the 12th.Many things contribute to this result. However, there is little doubt that diminishing services, reduced economic opportunities and growing poverty are major factors.
I wouldn't mind as much if we had at least a measure of control of our own destiny. Then it would in part be our own fault. But we don't. There is very little we can do to address the problem in a direct sense. We just have to put up with it, at least for the moment. .
Sunday, November 09, 2014
Continuing from New England artists - Anne Dangar (Kempsey) and Grace Crowley (Cobbadah and Barraba), Thea Proctor was another artist with New England connections. This drawing of her is by George Lambert.
The story that follows is drawn from the ADB entry (link above) on Thea Proctor.
Alethea Mary (Thea) Proctor (1879-1966) was born on 2 October 1879 at Armidale, elder child of William Consett Proctor, English-born solicitor and member of the Legislative Assembly (1880-87), and his Queensland-born wife Kathleen Janet Louisa, née Roberts.
The family soon moved to Sydney where they lived at Hunters Hill. In 1889 Thea was sent to board at Armidale’s New England Girls School. Her parents separated in 1892 (and were divorced in 1897). With her mother and brother she went to live at Bowral with her maternal grandparents who encouraged her artistic pursuits.
From 1896 she attended Julian Ashton's art school, which emphasized drawing and the latest decorative ideas in composition. Fellow students included Elioth Gruner, George Lambert and Sydney Long (to whom she was briefly engaged in 1898). In 1903 Thea Proctor went to London, studying at St John's Wood Art Schools and with Lambert. 'Beautiful, tall, dark-haired, languorous and dignified', she posed for him and frequented his household. Their exact relationship remains an enigma, but she was 'doggedly devoted' to him and found him intellectually stimulating: their friendship was lifelong.
Associating also with other expatriate Australian artists, notably Charles Conder, Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts, she was influenced by Conder's fan-designs, Japanese prints and the drawing of Ingres. Preoccupied with line, colour and form, she concentrated on drawing and painting in watercolours. Her interest in decorative work was highlighted by the Chelsea Arts Club balls with their elaborate costumes. On seeing the Ballet Russe in 1911 she exclaimed: 'it would be difficult to imagine anything more beautiful and inspiring'. Her decorative fans and drawings, usually watercolours on silk, were well received when exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts and the New English Art Club.
Returning to Australia in 1912, Thea Proctor exhibited in Sydney and Melbourne; both the National galleries of Victoria and New South Wales bought works, but she was disappointed with the general response and returned to England late in 1914. She soon produced her first lithographs which, although she continued to paint, established her reputation when exhibited by the Senefelder Club. Later she exhibited also with the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers and at the Goupil Gallery.
Like many expatriates, including Lambert, Proctor settled in Australia after the war. Arriving in Melbourne in 1921, she tried to popularize lithography, but found little interest and returned to Sydney. She joined the Society of Artists and voted with Lambert to award the society's travelling scholarship to Roy de Maistre in 1923. In 1926 Lambert, Thea and others formed the Contemporary Group to encourage young avant-garde artists. The previous year she andMargaret Preston held a joint exhibition in Sydney and Melbourne: both artists included brightly coloured woodcuts in scarlet frames. Although Proctor's work was comparatively conservative, in Australia it was considered 'dangerously modern'. This exhibition and her covers for theHome brought her recognition but little financial reward. In 1932 Art in Australia devoted an issue to her work. She taught design at Ashton's Sydney Art School and privately, introducing many young artists to linocut printing, and in the 1940s taught drawing for the Society of Arts and Crafts.
Considered an arbiter of taste and always elegantly dressed, Thea Proctor wrote on fashion, flower arranging, colours for cars and interior decoration. She organized artists' balls in the 1920s, designed the fashionably modern Lacquer Room restaurant (1932) for Farmer & Co. Ltd and produced theatre décor in the 1940s. In her latter years she continued to encourage young and innovative artists and to paint, in a looser, sensuous manner, carried out portrait commissions, exhibited regularly with the Macquarie Galleries and promoted the neglected work of her relation John Peter Russell. She commented: 'I am not the sort of person who could sit at home and knit socks'.
Unmarried, Thea Proctor died at Potts Point on 29 July 1966.
Saturday, November 08, 2014
It doesn’t take rocket science to know why localities and regions decline. You just have to look at patterns.
In a post on my personal blog I asked: Monday Forum - why is there an investment strike? Here My focus was national, global, macro, but you can see the effect at local level.
Over the second half of the twentieth century, the number of locally or regionally owned businesses declined across Northern NSW. This broke the nexus between local savings and investment. Previously, local savings moved to local investment via the channel created by local businesses. Those businesses no longer exist. Local profits accrue to externally controlled enterprises. Local personal savings and especially superannuation go to external entities that cannot afford to focus locally.
Obviously, I am generalising, but I think that it’s a pretty fair summary. So what do we do about it? One option would be the creation of a New England investment bank to create a new channel. This is a far from perfect idea, but it might be a start.
What do you think?
Friday, November 07, 2014
I am always trying to trace artists or writers with New England connections. Reading, I came across a reference to painter and potter Anne Dangar (and here). I wondered whether or not she was part of the Dangar pastoral family. Checking, she was not, but she did have a New England connection. Here I quote from the Australian Dictionary biography entry on her:
Anne Garvin Dangar (1885-1951), painter and potter, was born on 1 December 1885 at Kempsey, New South Wales, fifth child of native-born parents Otho Orde Dangar, auctioneer and member (1889-93) of the Legislative Assembly, and his wife Elizabeth, née Garvin. Called Nancy by her family, she attended East Kempsey Public School and in 1906 took art lessons in Sydney under Horace Moore-Jones. She joined Julian Ashton's Sydney Art School before 1916 and taught there from 1920; meantime, she worked at Angus & Robertson Ltd by day. An adventurous reader, she discovered Cézanne and exchanged modernist ideas with her colleagues Dorrit Black,'Rah' Fizelle and Grace Crowley. Dangar shared a cottage at Vaucluse with Crowley who became her dearest friend—yet they were never to meet after 1930.
Grace Crowley (link in quote), it appears, was another artist with New England connections, in her case Cobbadah and Barraba. Dangar stayed on in France, Crowley returned to Australia. Both form part of that remarkable group of Australian women artists who came to prominence in the first decades of the twentieth century.
Both left New England young, neither returned. But if Australia can claim Dangar, surely New England can claim both?
Sunday, November 02, 2014
a very good way of keeping in touch with writing connected with Australia's Aboriginal peoples. This post draws from the page to provide an update on writing linked in some ways to New England's Aboriginal peoples.
A new publication is john Maynard's True Light and Shade (National Library of Australia, 2014). Here I quote in part from the linked review.
Monday, October 06, 2014
On 24 September in Musings on a visit to Armidale – art and all that stuff. I featured in part the art of Anna Henderson that was on display at the New England Regional Art Museum.
You can understand then why I was pleased to learn that Anna had won the 2014 $15,000 Norvill Art Prize held in Murrurundi, in New England’s Upper Hunter.This is a shot of her in front of her painting "Drover's Ridge".
I see that Murrundi now bills itself as the "artistic village". I don’t have a problem with that. It’s part of the process of change that has seen the rise of other centres such as Bellingen or Byron Bay. That said, I would like to see more differentiation, more focus on the differences between, New England centres.
I was excited to see Anna’s paintings in part because of their apparent locale. They form part of the evolving tapestry that marks the emergence of a differentiated art. Few if any artists would see themselves in that way, After all, the New England that I write about does not exist in any formal sense. But, standing back, I can see it.
Monday, September 01, 2014
On Thursday 18 September, Scotland will vote on independence. This wikipedia article provides a good introduction.
I have mixed feelings on the vote. I am not sure that full independence is in Scotland’s best interests. However, two things are important from a New England self-government perspective.
The first is that Scotland has already achieved the thing that we have been fighting for, self government within Australia. They did so despite continued opposition from Westminster and the established elites.
The second is that the vote on independence is treated as the self-evident right of the Scots to make their own decisions.
We New Englanders are entitled to no less. If we take control, we will certainly make mistakes, but they will be our mistakes. We will have only ourselves to blame.
Surely it is not too much to ask to give us another vote? Are we to be treated as less than the Scots? After all, it is our right too.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The ICAC (Independent Commission against Corruption) Inquiry has now claimed the resignations of two Liberal Party MPs, Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell (photo right) and Newcastle MP Tim Owen.
I haven’t commented to this point, but its really quite amazing, Having broken back into the traditionally Labor dominated Newcastle and the Lower Hunter, the Liberal Party has effectively imploded on the techniques used to gain election.
This piece from the Newcastle Herald provides a reasonably good introduction to the issues. Its hard to see how Newcastle Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy can possibly survive all this given his role in the whole affair.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
This photo shows wool industry representatives gathered for the final Newcastle wool sale in February 2013.
In my History Revisited column in the Armidale Express I looked at the history of wool sales in Newcastle. The posts are:
- History revisited – the shears stop in Newcastle
- History Revisited – NENCO, Newcastle & wool sales part 2
The sale marked the end of an era. Wool selling began at Newcastle because Northern growers demanded it and fought for it. It stopped in the end because the combination of technology with the decline of wool and wool growing made it unviable.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
There are hundreds of small halls scattered across New England. They are neither pretty nor pretentious, but they form one core of local life.
Raleigh is a small settlement near Urunga, not far from Bellingen, in the Bellinger Valley. All sorts of functions are held there, including the Raleigh Rumblings. This is one clip. Comments follow the clip.
i have been in so many of those halls over the years. The acoustics are often dreadful. Sometimes they can be bloody cold, but they help bind the community together.
As I research more into the history of New England, I find that that’s one of the things that really counts.
Monday, June 23, 2014
The NSW Legislative Council’s State Development Committee is presently conducting an inquiry into regional aviation services in NSW. The Inquiry was established on 13 December 2013 following receipt of terms of reference from Andrew Stoner, Deputy Premier and National Party Leader.
Just for something different, the photo shows Sunderland flying boats on the Clarence River when they were conducting a service from Grafton to Sydney.
You will find the entry page for the Committee here including terms of reference, submissions and transcripts of evidence.
It’s all remarkably difficult. As the economics of flying shifts, fewer and fewer New England towns have access to air travel. Those that do, have to pay high prices. It affects every aspect of daily life and severely disadvantages tourism.
While there is no easy solution, if we had our own Government then we might have a chance of preparing a development plan. We could think of Newcastle and Coffs as international ports. We could look at limited selective subsidisation of services such as Tamworth or Armidale to Brisbane just to build base traffic. We could use our tourism promotion to build our traffic rather than being simply submerged in NSW.
It is unrealistic to think that we can have the services we once had, but we could do better if we didn’t have to accommodate all those NSW interests.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
I make no apologies for being one eyed about the things that I care about. Sometimes there is a negative element in this, such as when I attack what I perceive to be the evils of modern management or the rise of what I see as harshness, censoriousness or blind cruelty in modern Australian life.
Sometimes I just want to tell a story, to share things that I care about.
I have had various goes at this. I start, stop, and then go on. I am human. I get distracted by the now. I find it difficult to maintain focus. I start projects and then stop. Despite the failures and inconsistencies, there is a coherence, a focus, in the things that I write about.
Accepting my failures and inconsistencies, I have decided to start a new series called Visions of New England to try to integrate some of my material. This first video clip is an example. It features my old home town and the immediate surrounding areas. Further comments follow the clip.
Armidale is a very pretty place. It is also a lucky place because of past efforts that have created the many things that Armidale people take for granted today.
To integrate the series. Visions of New England is the top sort. Then I will drop down to local areas such as Visions of New England Armidale or Newcastle or subject areas such as wool.
New England has become much diminished. Just at present, I live in Sydney. The things and places that I love have declined in recognition and importance. It would be nice to think that I could restore them to some degree. I will need help. I want visual material in particular. So let’s see how we go.
Friday, June 20, 2014
Friday, June 13, 2014
Friday, May 23, 2014
Very few people know that St John’s Theological College in Armidale was, in fact, the first tertiary institution in the North. St John’s acted as a trigger for a post on my personal blog: Populating a landscape – writers and writing. This History Revisited post, History revisited – college a capital idea, tells a little of the early story.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Continuing the story from Journey to the Hunter – Saturday 19 April 2014: St Patrick’s Singleton, we drove out of Singleton in the late morning on our way to Morpeth for a late lunch. I hadn’t been to Morpeth before, and had been wanting to go for years.
The first part of our journey took us along the newly opened Hunter Expressway towards Maitland. I am sure that it’s convenient, certainly it’s quicker, but it imposes its own blankness on the landscape. In fact, this was a problem for the whole trip. I knew the Hunter very well and had done so for many years. However, the new roads and the spread of the urban landscape in the Lower Hunter created a very special spatial dislocation as my mind warred between the scenes I saw now and my previous memories.
For those who don’t know the Hunter Valley, it’s 29,145 sq km (11,252.9 sq mi) in size. The population is over 620,000, of which the great bulk lives in the Lower Hunter. We left the Expressway to drive into Maitland. Founded in 1820, Maitland (more precisely West Maitland) was the second largest town in Australia until the gold rushes, acting as the main entrepot point for Northern New South Wales. Established in 1843, the Maitland Mercury is the second oldest surviving newspaper in Australia after the Sydney Morning Herald.
Maitland has many historic buildings, but this time we couldn’t stop. I wanted to get to Morpeth. Had we stayed on the main road, the signs would have taken us there. Me being me, I decided to try to follow the river, promptly getting lost. We ended up in a place called Bulwarra with some fascinating old buildings in the midst of the more modern houses. I had never heard of it,
Sadly my photos didn’t come out properly, but this will give you a feel. By now it was quite late, my companion wasn’t feeling well, and we needed to get to Morpeth to eat. I walked across the road and asked a woman for directions. She was very friendly. “I went to school here,” she said. “ I wanted to come back, but it took us a very long time to find a house. There just aren’t any for sale.”
She explained that the house we were looking at was indeed one of the original big houses built during the convict period. With directions, we drove on, coming into Morpeth across the river bridge.
I should now introduce Morpeth. It was founded around 1831 by Edward Close at the head of navigation on the Hunter River. Smaller craft could go on to Maitland, but Morpeth was the effective head of navigation. At the time Morpeth was established, the main connection between Sydney and the Hunter Valley lay over the difficult inland route. In 1825, convicts began building the Great North Road to provide a better connection. Finished in 1836, the road was a major engineering feat, However, by then technology had changed.
In May 1831, the Sophia Jane arrived in Sydney Harbour from England. the first working steamer to be seen in Sydney Harbour. Built by Barnes and Millar in 1826, she was 153 tons and had one engine of 50 horse power. Three years earlier in 1828, two experienced shipbuilders, William Lowe and James Marshall, had arrived in the Colony. Under the guidance of entrepreneur Sydney merchant John Hickey Grose they selected land on the bank of the Williams River at Clarence Town and by 1830 had set up a shipyard complete with a wet dock cawed from a convenient creek. After building a few small boats to get the feel of the local wood they laid the keel of the first Australian steamship, the 'William the Fourth, in early Feb. 1831.
These ships were small, but they transformed trade. Sailing ships has struggled to travel the sometimes narrow and winding Hunter. Now goods and people could be carried with a degree of certainty al the way up the river to Morpeth and the main population centres, Morpeth grew rapidly.
Today, it is actually hard to imagine the bustling town and its busy river port. We unpacked the picnic basket on a spot overlooking where the main wharves had been. There is still river traffic, more than I expected, but it is all leisure craft now, We were both tired, so we sat there quietly eating bread and pate, cheese, olives with a glass of wine in hand watching the other picnickers.
Packing the picnic basket, we drove back up the hill to find a place to park. The town stretches in a longish strip along the river bank, The buildings vary in age, with the usual mix of domestic and the monumental you might expect from the town’s previous importance. This is the old court house.
And this will give you a feeling for the screetscape in the town centre. Cupz and Crepes is, we were told, currently the most fashionable locale in Morpeth!
Morpeth was packed with tourists there for the Easter Weekend. Feeling tired, we joined the queue to find a spot for coffee looking down towards the river. It was time to return back to Pokolbin and dinner.
The drive back gave me something of the same feeling of disconnect that I had had in the morning. I wanted to go a different way home, but found myself driving through miles of suburban sprawl.
Then came dinner at the resort. Because it was a holiday period, they added a 15 per cent price premium. Later, I saw a sign at reception advising of this, but it wasn’t on the menu nor signed in any way at the restaurant. We wouldn’t have minded so much if the food was good, but it was the worst cooked steak I have ever eaten. It was horrid!
I was annoyed. It cast a damper over what had, in fact, been a very good day.
For those who want to follow along with the story, you will find the entry point for all the posts here.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Continuing the story from Journey to the Hunter – Saturday 19 April 2014: Broke Fordwich, we left the mines behind and drove down the Putty Road to Singleton through the bright morning sun. Singleton has changed so much as a consequence of the mining boom that the very pattern of the streets seems different. Still, I knew where I wanted to go.
Last year I read Michael Sternbeck’s history of the Catholic Church In Singleton: The Catholic Church In Singleton: an historical look at its people and progress (published by the author, c1981.) Now I wanted to visit the church complex with its church, convent and schools.
The buildings lie on a quite narrow strip donated by John Browne. Browne, originally just Brown, was a prominent lay person whose donations helped fund much of the early development of the Church in Singleton.
The photo shows the Church. The towers themselves were added in 1920-21. The building behind dates from 1859-1860, In March 1859, Archbishop Polding laid the foundation stone. In February 1860 he returned to open the building.
Both the church and the buildings around it have grown by accretion over the years. I wandered trying to work out what was what. Actually, it wasn’t easy. I didn’t have the history with me, so wasn’t sure just which building was what. Slowly, a pattern started to form. Meantime, my friend had vanished to do her own thing.
I wandered around the corner after her, finding that most valuable of things, a a toilet. Normally shut except during services, it was open that day because the church was being prepared for Easter Services. The side door was open, so I wandered inside, finding my friend standing watching a group of women preparing flowers.
It is a truly Beautiful church. This is the view in the old church looking towards the front door. The gallery you see was built in 1874-75 at a cost of 366 pounds.
Looking forward in the church, you can see the flowers being prepared for the Easter Service. On the left of the photo, a later extension provides a private area where the Sisters of Mercy from the Convent can participate in services. A quiet covered way links the extension with the Convent.
It was peaceful, but we had to move on. Next step Morpeth, and the vibrant world of commerce in the first half of the nineteenth century.
For those who want to follow along with the story, you will find the entry point for all the posts here.
Sunday, May 04, 2014
Breakfast over. we headed back to the little village of Broke. Given my companion’s cold, we needed to stop at the little general store for supplies and especially bottled water!
While water was being gathered, I wandered across the road to the little war memorial. Your find these in all Australian country towns, but this one was more domestic, less monumental, than most.
Broke lies on Wollombi Brook. Marked yellow on the map, Wollombi Brook rises below Mount Warrawolong in the Watagan Mountains. Starting at an elevation of 426m, it flows north-east for 118km before joining the Hunter River, dropping 378m. Our journey to the Hunter the day before (Journey to the Hunter – Friday 18 April 2014: the adventure starts) had tracked the Brook and its little villages. There is some beautiful country with many byways, although this time we were just travelling through to Pokolbin.
I had wanted to visit the Broke Fordwich region for a number of reasons. One was the desire just to see the place, a second to see for myself the changes that were taking place, including the conflict between agricultural and industrial activities.
When I first started driving between Armidale and Sydney or Canberra, I drove the Putty Road. That’s the red line on the top left of the map, heading south west from Singleton through Bulga and Howes Valley to Windsor on the outskirts of Sydney. Later, I discovered the Wollombi-Broke Road, the road tracing the course of Wollombi Brook. This was considerably shorter, but included long stretches of often dusty dirt/gravel roads. I grew up driving on dirt roads and liked them, leaning how to navigate the mix of potholes (go slow) and corrugations (go fast), how to manage the loose gravel or dirt that could easily cause the car to spin. Mind you, it wasn’t necessarily good for the car, with the flying gravel effectively stripping the lower paint away.
At the time I first drove these roads, this was an area frozen in time. Its period as the main route north was long gone, quickly replaced by cheaper sea and river transport to Morpeth on the Hunter. This freezing in time effect had preserved many of the older buildings, the early historical framework, making for an interesting drive.
This was now to change. In 1963, Dr Max Lake established Lake’s Folly, the first of the new boutique wineries in the Hunter. In 1968 or 1969, I have seen both dates used, Len Evans established Rothbury Wines. In that year, Graham Kerr launched his Galloping Gourmet TV program. The age of fine dining, the extravagant four bottle business lunch of the 1970s, was dawning.
The start of the 1980s saw the explosion of what would come to be called the sea change/tree change phenomenon. As part of this, boutique wineries spread across the Hunter, finally spreading to the quiet Wollombi Valley. With this came new agricultural activities and food stuffs, including especially the now ubiquitous olives. Then came the resorts.
The scale of all this is illustrated by the photo of the Broke Fordwich tourism display. You won’t be able to read the names; the significant thing is the just the number. None of this existed when I first drove through Broke all those years ago.
The area retains its natural beauty. This is illustrated by the following photo, a pastoral scene of black Angus cattle with the Broken Back range in the background. The wineries have added further texture to this beauty.
Aeons ago, a shallow inland sea existed in what is now called the Gondwana Supercontinent. There coral and other animal or plant stuff formed deep sediments. As Gondwana was torn apart by huge geological shifts, those sediments were covered and transformed, finally forming extensive coal deposits. Today, we call this the Sydney-Gunnedah-Bowen Basin.
The next shows< think, the Warkworth open cut coal mine just to the north of Broke on the other side of the Putty Road. There are, in act, two mines. The first is the Warkworth Mine north of the Putty Road. On the other side, you have the Mount Thorley mine running down towards Broke. Both mine are run as one by Rio Tinto subsidiary Coal & Allied Industries. The little village of Bulga on the Putty Road lies between them.
The photo shows the sheer scale of industrial activity. Those coal trucks at the bottom left of the photo are clearly big, but you only really get a feel for their size if you let your eyes stand back a little and look at them against the scale of the mine. They really are big. Further comments follow the photo.
As a New England historian, I am interested in the role that King Coal has played in New England history. There is an untold story here of national significance that I am only just coming to grips with. That was part of the reason for this trip. As an economist. I am interested in the economic aspects of coal development. As a traveller and somewhat one-eyed New England patriot, I am interested in the current impact and what it means for the future.
Warkworth vs Bulga is a hot current story, part of the environmental wars that have swept Northern NSW, my broader New England. Should the mine be allowed to expand if it threatens, as it does, the very survival of Bulga as a village and the beautiful country around it? That is the key issue in current court cases and political activism in the area.
I will leave the story of our trip here, continuing in the next instalment.
For those who want to follow along with the story, you will find the entry point for all the posts here.
My latest History Revisited column is on surfing: History revisited – how an era began. That reminded me that I need to do something about pulling together the limited writing I have done on the history of sport in New England.
To this point, the posts are:
- 19 August 2011 A visit to a Cessnock boxing tent
- 13 October 2011 The importance of tennis
- 30 October 2011 Grafton to Inverell cycling classic turns 51
- 10 July 2013 History Revisited - our love affair with racing
- 21 August 2013 History revisited - rhyme and reason for bicycle mania
- 4 September 2013 History revisited - punching sky high for big dreams in region – boxing
- 3 October 2013 History revisited - New England rode high in rodeo past
- 30 April 2014 History revisited – how an era began surfing
- 28 May 2014 History revisited – remnants of a past era – side saddle
I will try to add to this post as I go along.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
My friend had not been well, so we agreed that I would pick her up at eleven. First, I had to pack the picnic basket with assorted goodies. I don’t often do this, the picnic basket that is, but we wanted to be able to stop where we liked.
A little after eleven, we headed north along the Pacific Highway. It was a gorgeous day, bright sun but not too hot. The expressway was crowded, so I was glad to get off that road and take the Peats Ridge Road. As I drove, I thought of past trips along this road, something that I started to describe in Secrets of New England - along the Fossickers Way Day One back in 2006.
We stopped at Kulnura for a late lunch. The bikes were out in force. We got out the picnic basket with its various goodies, opened the wine.
Settlement around Kulnura is actually quite new. The Great North Road, the original road to New England, ran further west and north. It was much later the settlers came to build their farms and, now, their metro escape havens.
From Kulnura. we drove on to the junction with the convict built Great North Road. I didn’t take photos; I need to go back to just explore and document, We drove on through Wollombi to Broke. Looking at the Wollombi entry on Wikipedia, I was stuck by the reference that suggested the Great North Road formed one part of the Greater Blue Mountains Drive. Get real, mate. This is another example of an a-historical southern takeover.
At Broke, I stood lookng up at Yellow Rock, part of the Broken Back Range, while my friend went to the store to buy some more water.
The Broken Back Range was to puzzle me throughout the trip. All the tourist material talks about it, but nowhere is there a decent description of its exact location! I had to try to work it out while we were driving around.
From Broke, we headed onto the Cessnock Road looking for the turnoff to Hermitage Road. Our destination, the Tuscany Wine Estate Resort lay up that road. It took us a little while to find it, but we were happy with the view from our room. There are some lovely vistas in the Hunter Valley. That’s the Broken Back Range in the background.
Neither of us felt like doing much, so we got out the picnic basket and settled down with some wine and assorted goodies for dinner in the late afternoon sun.
If you want to continue following the story of this trip, here are the later posts: