It's early on a wet Saturday Sydney morning. Here in Australia it's been a very political week in a way that I, for one, really hadn't seen coming. Of course I knew that there was a possibility, but it wasn't high on my radar. I had too many other things on my mind, including deadlines.
This morning I don't feel like being too intense, so instead a somewhat random wander through things that have sparked interest in that random maze that masquerades as the Belshaw mind.
The week more or less began with Sunday Essay - musings on the death of Jeffrey Smart. I enjoyed writing that post in part because of the art, in part because it took me back into elements of my past. In a comment on that post, JCW wrote about her own Australian art collection:
I still have mine, and have been lucky enough to be able to add to it. I love it, even though, yes it is limited (although highly eclectic) and undoubtedly old fashioned, and the art historians with whom I worked would sneer (except about the Proctor). After 40 odd (no comment from the peanut gallery) years of collecting, almost out of wall space and have had to install gallery hanging. Introducing me to Oz art is all your doing, so thank you.
In writing the Smart post I had been thinking in part of the importance of sharing. This Lionel Lindsay print, by the way, Goat and rhododendron, was one painting in my collection.
JCW, she was then JC, and I trawled the art galleries of Sydney looking for works. Another friend and I went to Canberra auctions and our favourite old book store to look for pieces to decorate the walls of Ross Road.
In a little arcade in Manuka was to be found one of the first galleries in Australia specialising in Aboriginal art. I didn't actually buy anything there although I was buying every antiquarian book I could on the Aborigines, but I loved the work.
That same day, Sunday, marked another trip down memory lane with My New England 5 - jumpers and jackets with the occasional pearls.
In that post I said of the girls "Actually, I was a bit frightened of their sophistication. I sometimes felt so gauche!" Actually, to use the same starting word, that's a bit of an understatement. Try terrified!
In April in a short post, Boarding, boarding trains & the return of boarding, I mentioned that I met my first real girlfriend on one of the boarding school trains that used to leave Armidale at the end of term. Memo to self. Best to tell that story as a short story. That way I can capture the feel without being bound by facts!
I suppose that once nostalgia sets in it continues, Tuesday my attention was caught by a new exhibition in Sydney, Historic Gardens of New England exhibition, Potts Point, Sydney. This photo shows a school garden, looking south.
New England is known for its gardens, something that I have also written about from time to time. It's not easy gardening country on the higher Tablelands, but gardens were everywhere. Some were formal, sweeping lawns and avenues, others focused on vegetables and fruits. Loved it!
I have been searching my way through New England's gold fields as part of my research for my main current book project, a history of New England over 50,000 years. I wonder if I will ever finish? The book now bears only limited relationship to the original concept, changing as I learn more. It has become a sprawling full scale history telling the story of an area and its peoples from multiple perspectives. Yet gaps remain.
To those supporters who just want me to finish, who have been asking about the book, I have set myself another deadline. to have a copy ready for pre-publishing edit by July of next year.
I digress. Returning to the gold fields, one feature of goldfields life across New England, as it was in other parts of society. were the race meetings. So I decided that next week's Armidale Express column should be on horse racing and race meetings. That column is done, but it drew me into nostalgic recollections of picnic race meetings. I kept the column itself broader, but picnic races themselves are another short story possibility.
The problems in Canberra and Ms Gillard's sudden demise drew me back to to the present. But I might leave further comments here for a later post.