Thursday, November 27, 2014

Northern Rivers Energy – power to the locals

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.

Is a NSW cultural policy possible? How would New England fit in?

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

James Harris becomes UNE's ninth Chancellor

James Harris has been appointed as the ninth Chancellor of the University of New England. He takes over from Geoff Fox who has been acting Chancellor since the Hon. John Watkins resigned in June.

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

ABC cuts - Newcastle loses metro radio status, jobs and local programming

I wonder if ABC Newcastle's Carol Duncan is still talking to Malcolm Turnbull after the axing of her popular show on 1233 ABC Newcastle ? This photo was taken in happier days.

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

Munificence – the Story of the Howard Hinton Collection

Rupert Bunny  A Sunny Day 1922

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

The 24 states of Australia

Noric Dilanchian pointed me to this one from Maps on the Web. It's not quite accurate. You would have had two new states in Queensland, North Queensland in the north, Capricornia in the center. Both had long running new state movements. South Coast was more normally called Monaro. Interesting all the same.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New England writing - launch of Sophie Masson's Trinity series

Good to see that the first of Sophie Masson's Trinity series has finally found a publisher. I quote from her piece on Writer Unboxed:

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

The North's growing disadvantage - increasing poverty, lower life expectancies

Depressing, I suppose, but I should have expected it. We already knew that the lowest income areas in NSW or indeed Australia had a particular concentration in Northern New South Wales. Now we learn from Data of death: Remote NSW life expectancy as bad as North Korea's that life expectancy is just as bad. Indeed, five of the worst ten NSW LGAs are in the North, eight of the next twenty. 

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

Another New England artist – Thea Proctor (Armidale)

Thea Proctor drawn by George Lambert

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

The need for a New England investment bank

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

New England artists - Anne Dangar (Kempsey) and Grace Crowley (Cobbadah and Barraba)

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 Dangar Moroccan tea set

  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

New England writing - Maynard on Lycett, Clarence Valley Women & Betty Mumbler's The Long Way Home

The AIATSIS (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies library facebook page is
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.

"True Light and Shade is filled with beautiful images by convict artist Joseph Lycett that powerfully capture in intimate detail Aboriginal life, a rare record of Aboriginal people within the vicinity of Newcastle and how they adapted to European settlement before cultural destruction impacted on these groups.
(Worimi man) John Maynard writes an engaging short biography of Lycett and his life in Australia and follows this with a detailed commentary on each of the 20 images in the album. Each image is reproduced in full on a double page spread and then, on the spreads following, details have been enlarged to accompany John's text as he takes us through exactly what is happening in every picture: ceremony, hunting and fishing, carrying food (carving up whalemeat), land management and burning, interactions with Europeans, family life, dances, funeral rituals, and punishment. When you return again to examine the full image, you see it in a completely different light. John also includes written records from the time that corroborate Lycett's views."
Colleen Hattersley and Robynne Bancroft's Clarence Valley Women ( Clarence Valley Women Inc, 2011) adds to the growing volume of North Coast personal and oral histories.
The book incorporates interviews with nine Clarence Valley women interviewed, three of whom were Indigenous. Most of those interviewed had a very modest view of their contribution and were reluctant to draw attention to their own lives and achievements. "The diverse lives portrayed in this book represent a valuable insight into life in the Clarence Valley for well over a century".
Beryl Joyce (Betty) Mumbler grew up on a large property on the Tingha Road 12 kms from Guyra. The Dhungutti people (Macleay Valley) and her personal heritage fuelled a desire to record many hours of what the elders had to say. The result was The long way home: my Dreaming (2012). 
Betty’s Mumbler passed away before this book was published. She is remembered as a pivotal member of the community who was admired by everybody.  The Long Way Home: My Dreaming highlights the efforts undertaken by Betty as a bridge builder in the community, and the importance of reconciliation to her. 
Local writer Carma Eckersley helped Betty put the book together.The women met at a U3A Aboriginal Studies workshop and Betty asked for Carma’s help in starting the book. 
Like many of these books, The long way home: my Dreaming, had a limited print run. It's a real frustration from my perspective because it makes it so to capture and consolidate all the writing that has been done.
This is where the AIATSIS library is so valuable, for within its scope it does try to collect copies of all publications. Still, I could wish that there was a single point of collection for all the writings connected with the broader New England.  .