‘Hokusai Morning’ – Maslin Beach, South Australia.
John Brack (1920-1999) is one of the most important and influential Australian artists of the 20th Century. Born in Melbourne and educated at Melbourne Grammar School, Brack rose to prominence in the 1950s. He was a member of the group known as the ‘Antipodeans’ who reacted against the then popular form of ‘abstract expressionism’. Brack later became Head of the National Gallery of Victoria Art School from 1962-68. Like many artists Brack went through particular periods, re-inventing and experimenting with new forms, genres, styles and subject matter. He is an artist who makes the ordinary extraordinary. This painting – The Lift dates from 1954 and is currently on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia. In many ways it is characteristic if Brack’s major works – a very distinctive and deliberate composition; dull, drab and muted colours, his most common colour being brown. On first glance t would seem that this painting is somewhat quite ordinary and mundane. The Lift, however, is a response to the Jewish Holocaust during WW2. As described by the gallery – ‘Rather than making an anguish or impassioned response to this subject, Brack has exercised immense restraint. The unnerving quality of this work comes from imagining that the steps leading up to the seemingly ordinary lift are analogous to the tragic fate suffered by the Jewish people led to their deaths in the gas chambers of Nazi Germany’. Extraordinary.
ADELAIDE STREET ART 2016
PLAY GROUND – Hindmarsh Square
Last Sunday I re-visited Carrick Hill, a stately mansion home at the foot of the Adelaide Hills. As my companions and I walked towards the house down the long driveway the opening sentence of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938) sprang to my mind – ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Mandeley again‘. This wonderful evocation, summoning up memory, seemed very apt for a couple of reasons. When I mentioned it, my sister said that my mother had also spoken this line when she and my sister visited Carrick Hill a couple of years before my mother died. She loved du Maurier’s Rebecca; as I did (and do) Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film, with the South Australian born actress, Dame Judith Anderson (1887-19) giving a definitive, brilliant memorable performance as Mandeley‘s creepy house-keeper Mrs Danvers.
Another reason why the opening line from Rebecca seemed appropriate is in regard to what a place might represent – a place associated with memories and beauty; and as such, in my imagination, Carrick Hill is another Mandeley – a very special place.
Visiting Carrick Hill is like stepping back in time to another world, one full of great wealth, patronage of art, affluence and influence. The entire property is approximately 40 hectares and contains and old mansion-house modeled on 16th Century English Tudor country mansions houses, as well as a truly magnificent garden that surrounds the house, with views over Adelaide. It is one of the few estates of its kind in Australia that remains virtually unchanged from when it was first created in 1939, the same time that saw the publication and subsequent film of Rebecca.
The following is a short photo-record of this visit last Sunday, particularly to the main house and garden. It tries to convey the unique and magical charm of Carrick Hill which is primarily a reflection of it’s original owners.
Carrick Hill was the home of Sir Edward ‘Bill’ Hayward (1903-83) and his wife Lady Ursula Hayward (1907-1970). The land was a wedding gift from the brides family, the Barr-Smith’s – one of the ‘old money’ families of Adelaide. Bill and Ursula Hayward married in 1935, and then embarked on their honeymoon to England. It was during this honeymoon that they started collecting numerous works of art and furnishings that became part of Carrick Hill. This includes a large 16th Century central staircase that they bought from the sale of the old Tudor mansion, Beaudesert House, the ancestral home of the aristocratic Paget family, the Marquesses of Anglesey.
I couldn’t help but smile imagining these two newlyweds driving through the English countryside, buying things that took their fancy. Flashing on images of London and England in the mid-1930s, with young adults that Evelyn Waugh labelled the ‘bright young things’ – all very Noel Coward, Cole Porter and all that (British) jazz; plus, the world of P.G. Wodehouse, Christopher Isherwood, the Mitford’s – and a hell of a lot of others; exciting world in exciting times, and everything ‘frightfully gay’, when ‘gay’ meant happy and not its current usage.
From all accounts it would seem that the Haywood’s had no fixed agenda in regard to what they bought. They simply bought what they found appealing. Subsequently, as will be revealed there is a particular mixing of the ‘old’ and the ‘modern’ that at first seems rather eccentric, however, on closer examination there a ‘method in the madness’, one that places certain humanist traditions and beliefs as paramount.
Carrick House was built between 1937-1939. During this time Ursula Haywood took personal control over establishing the garden. The Haywards, however, did not have much time to settle in to their new home as war broke out in 1939. Bill Hayward signed up, and did active service. It was during the war years that Bill Hayward noticed how popular the relatively new drink of Coca-Cola was with the US troops. After WW2 Bill Hayward secured the franchise contract to sell Coca-Cola to Australians – the first to do so.
The Hayward’s were great art collectors and one of the great pleasures in visiting Carrick Hill is the display of the collection, or part of it, throughout the house, as well as in the garden. The Hayward’s must have had a good eye, or simply knew what they liked aesthetically, as well as a good agent, because the collection contains numerous works by 20th Century English and Australian ‘moderns’, such as Arthur Streeton, Russell Drysdale, Jacob Epstein, Augustus John, and Stanley Spencer. The Haywards knew a number of the artists personally and considered them friends. This included Nora Heysen (1911-2003), daughter of Hans Heysen whose own life story is amazing. There is a lovely ‘still life’ of flowers by Nora Heysen in the upstairs sitting room.
Also upstairs is the ‘gallery’, part of the old house that has been converted for use of special art exhibitions that are generally connected to the house. When we visited there was a exhibition on in the upstairs gallery that contained a number of wonderful pieces, including a beautiful small Renoir, which was once own by the Haywards and is now owned by the Art Gallery of South Australia. Technically, the AGSA owns all of Carrick Hill. The Haywards’ never had any children; Lady Ursula died in 1970 and when Sir Bill Hayward died in 1983 he bequeathed Carrick Hill to the state of South Australia. On the 9th March, 1986, Queen Elizabeth II visited Carrick House and officially opened it to the public; 2016 marks the 30th Anniversary of Carrick House. In August 2016 Carrick Hill will present a retrospective of the works of English artist, Stanley Spencer (1891-1959); this is rather exciting and something I am very much looking forward to seeing. Not that surprising either, considering that the Hayward’s had one of the largest private collections of Stanley Spencer’s work; and artist they patronized and knew as a friend from the beginning of his career.
Driving through the front gate of Carrick Hill the first things one notices are signs warning about snakes in the grounds sharing the habitat. We decided pretty quickly not to get out of the car at this stage. The road meandered through the very Australian bush finally arriving at the relatively large carpark within viewing distance of the main house. From the carpark there is a short concrete pathway down to the main large driveway that leads to the house.
Walking down the driveway one passes through sections of the garden, which includes as well as the massive trees, open lawns and flowerbeds (roses) to the left, leading to the view of Adelaide, and to the right a number of specialist gardens, including a Japanese Garden, with pond, small waterfall, canal and a number of Japanese plants and flowers and a truly beautiful willow tree.
THE ENTRANCE HALL – The Entrance Hall is more like an old ante-chamber, a small square room with dark timber panelling and a high ceiling. There are a number of art works in this room, the first one encounters is a large bust of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) by Jacob Epstein (1880-1959). There are also a couple of small paintings, ‘still-life’s’ of flowers, and then a sizable beautiful landscape of Venice by Arthur Streeton (1867-1943), which is all light, white, blue, yellow, unlike a lot of Streeton’s more familiar works that are much darker in tone and colour and atmosphere.
Whilst there are many outstanding works of art in the entire collection, not least being a ‘Fan’ painted by Paul Gauguin, it is portraiture that is the dominate genre. This evident in the numerous busts of famous contemporaries of the Haywood’s, some of whom were personal friends. This includes Jacob Epstein, the ‘father of modern sculpture’. As with Stanley Spencer, the Hayward’s were a great admirer of Jacob Epstein and the house contains numerous work by this great 20th century artist. One of my favourite works by Epstein, and is perhaps his best known is Oscar Wilde‘s grave and memorial in Paris.
I was intrigued as to why Epstein’s Shaw and Streeton’s painting were the first major works one encountered in Carrick Hill. Had they always been there? I asked the lady from whom one bought the entrance tickets to the house. As far as she knew, most of the artworks were in their original places, although she did not know exactly if this was also the case for the bust of Shaw. She did say, however, that some works do get moved around from time to time, but somehow they always seem to return to their original position. I thank her, but internally I wasn’t totally convinced – so the answer as to whether or not the displayed works are in their original position when Carrick Hill was the Hayward’s home is unknown. Nonetheless, thinking about Shaw and what he may have represented to the Hayward’s played in my mind as I went through the rest of the house. Furthermore, the juxtaposition of the ‘old’ as exemplified by the Streeton, and the ‘modern’, exemplified by Epstein’s Shaw, in a way set the tone and theme for what was to follow. The remarkable things is that they seem in perfect harmony with one another. Why? Why put these pieces together? Is it just random or is there something else at work?
The answer certainly lies with the personal tastes of the Hayward’s, but this also requires closer examination.They had strong ‘old world’ connection to the ‘mother country’ Great Britain, and at the same time were deeply attracted to the work of the ‘moderns’; and not just any ‘modern’ artist but a very particular English eye that specialized in portraits, busts, and still-life’s. I do not know enough about them as yet, but based on this experience of Carrick Hill and how certain works are deliberately placed within the house made me contemplate certain possibilities – beginning with George Bernard Shaw.
In the theatre Shaw stands, seemingly like a colossus, between the ‘old’ 19th Century world, and the ‘modern’ first part of the 20th Century. You just have to read or see Shaw’s Man and Superman (1902), Major Barbara (1905), Heartbreak House (1917/1920). and St. Joan (1923) to find how remarkably prophetic and accurate Shaw was in dealing with social and political conundrums that are still very much a part of today’s world. Whilst there have recently been professional productions of a couple of his plays, including Arms and the Man (1895), I am not, however, certain if Shaw still holds much place or influence in contemporary Australia. From my experience of teaching young Australians, most have never heard of him, nor I may add the film of My Fair Lady (1964), based on Shaw’s Pygmalion (1912).
As may be gathered, I am a huge fan of George Bernard Shaw. Other plays by Shaw in his considerable canon of work that I particularly like include, Mrs Warren’s Profession (1893), Candida (1894), You Never Can Tell (1895), Caesar and Cleopatra (1898), Misalliance (1909), Androcles and the Lion (1912), Great Catherine (1913), O’Flaherty C.C. (1917), and The Apple Cart (1928). Each of these plays pose respective challenging complex questions in regard to power, gender, and sex, that remain relatively universal.
Shaw’s humour is not the belly-laugh of slap=stick comedy, but rather the wry smile of satire; plus he is a great romantic.
As the above excessive amount of quotes from Shaw exemplify, as well as the universal popularity of his plays, his influence on the thinking of the early 20th century generations was considerable. The Hayward’s may well have been influenced by Shaw. Is there and element of Heartbreak House in Carrick Hill; or is it like Howard’s End (1910) by E. M. Forster, another special place which at the end of Forster’s novel is very like Carrick Hill, maintaining its special otherworldly quality as the city silhouette steadily surrounds it.
I decided to keep Shaw in mind as I went through the house, to see if there was any complementary consistency with the chosen art works and Shaw’s view on life. For example, Shaw was a senior member of the Fabian Society in the first decade of the 20th Century.
The Fabian Society was established in 1894-95 and was intended to promote the ideas and philosophy of Socialism through non violent means. Whilst Shaw was often in a combative position within and without the Fabian Society, nonetheless, he remained a Fabian for his entire life. The Fabian’s emphasis on non-violence in time drew them into conflict with regimental British imperialism and rabid nationalism – ‘old’ verses ‘modern’ thinking.
Were the Hayward’s Fabians? I don’t know – but the works of art they personally selected complement certain Fabian beliefs. This is particularly noticeable in that there are no works that are violent – no bleeding saints or blood drenched massacres, no depictions of torture, horrors, and other nightmares. There is nothing deadly, no death-images, no cruxicfictions, battles, dead animals, etc. This is similar to the Frick Museum in New York that also doesn’t have any violent paintings in its collection. The Hayward’s selected works that were either portraits or sculptures of famous people, some of whom they knew; which suggests a strong ‘humanist’ position, that combined with the non-violence offers a place that is a peaceful celebration of the best of mankind. This is a highly romantic interpretation of Carrick Hill, nonetheless, it is an apt one as peace, harmony, elegance and sophistication reign supreme in what is essentially a family home rather than a rich person’s show pen.
THE MAIN HALL – CENTRAL ROOM
From the Entrance Hall one moves to the left and enters the Main Hall. This is the central room of the house – and it is truly spectacular. The main reason for this is the 16th Century staircase that dominates the room, and leads to the upper level of the house. In keeping with the original concept of such staircases in the Elizabethan world of ‘mansion houses’ there is a wonderful use of sunlight through the large windows, particularly those on the first landing going up the central staircase that looks out over the garden at the back of the house. As with other rooms there is a mixture of the ‘old’ and the ‘modern’. The ‘old’ is exemplified by the magnificent Tudor staircase, as well as the windows that also came from Beaudesert House in England. Against this, but not in opposition, are the ‘modern’ art works by artists such as Epstein as well as Augustus John. On either side of the staircase there a sculptures by Epstein. This is the first room that begins the collection’s paintings by British artist Stanley Spencer, the Hayward’s at one time having one of the largest privately owned collections of Spencer’s unique work and very English style and artistry. Spencer’s paintings in many ways stand as representative of Carrick Hill, in content, tone, and colour.
THE SITTING ROOM & THE LIBRARY
From the Main Hall one can access other rooms in the house – beginning with the Sitting Room and Library in the left wing of the house. Both room a different in tone and feel, primarily due to the furnishings, textiles, and light.
The Sitting Room, to the left, is more formal as well as darker than the Library. It is a very curious room in many ways, with a terrific mixture of ‘modern’ works in what is essentially a very old room; dominated to a certain extent by a grand piano set agains the large windows, and an enormous fireplace, above which sits the Gauguin ‘Fan’. In the left hand corner near the fireplace is a cupboard that was designed specifically to hold old phonograph records.
The Sitting Room the room feels rather spacious, compared to the Library which is cosily cluttered with books and armchairs and basking in beautiful sunlight. In the Library there is also a hidden bar behind one of the bookcases. Great use of space in this relatively small space, and very stylish – G & T’s anyone?
THE DINING ROOM
Walking back across the Main Hall, through a door on the left side of the room, one enters the Dining Room.
This is a beautiful room, dark oak paneling, a magnificent table, chairs and settings, a large fireplace, carefully chosen works of art, and all light by sunlight from the Tudor windows that also came from Beaudesert House. Above the fireplace is a Russell Drysdale, which is slightly at odds with the other art work, and yet, and yet….?
There is a darkness, a formality, and a relatively sombre atmosphere in this room – suggesting that fine dining in this house was a serious affair. This is somewhat supported by the presence of a couple of semi-religious works, which are unusual as the collection has no overt religious art.
To me and my fervent imagination, this is the darkest room in the house. Despite is elegance there does seem to be a battle going on in here. Look at little closer at the detail and content. There is hint of violence in this room that you don’t find in the others. This partly exemplified by the wooden lion statues that sit one a sideboard at one end of the room. If the Haywards were Fabians then it is highly likely they were also vegetarians. Is there a subliminal message here; I don’t know; but there is an uncomfortable unresolved tension in the room.
THE KITCHEN & UPSTAIRS PANTRY
Moving through the Dining Room one comes to the relatively modern 1930s Kitchen. This is connected to an upstairs Pantry. There are a number of interesting features about the two rooms, primarily because they are very much ‘modern’ kitchens. Both rooms also feature examples of some of the fine china tea and dinner service that is also part of the Carrick Hill collection.
MAIN HALL – UPPER GALLERY, THE ‘MASTER’ BEDROOM & ENSUITE BATHROOM & DRESSING ROOM
From the Kitchen one moves back to the Main Hall and climb the central staircase to the upper gallery and then to the Master Bedroom.
THE MASTER BEDROOM
This is a very elegant room, yet also a delightful mixture of the old and the ‘modern’. The room is dominated by a large old four-poster bed, which has sitting on top a breakfast-in-bed- service. There are some large screens with stunning patterns (tapestries, I think), and the whole room is full of light. Along one side, however, there is this rather large white ‘modern’ set of cupboards, which I assume once housed Lady Ursula’s wardrobe. As piece by itself it is very smart and impressive. Set in this room, however, I wasn’t convinced and kind of just blocked it – haha!
On top of the chest at the foot of the impressive four-poster bed were two Bible Boxes, one from the early 17th Century, and the other ‘modern’. The juxtaposition between the two complementing the rest of the house. The 17th Century Bible Box was of particular interest to me in that it was built for and would have housed a copy of the King James Bible, the first official English Bible published 1612-13. Along with Shakespeare, the King James Bible is one of the pillars of the English language.
There are also a number of art works in this room, small works that have a distinctive bawdiness – very appropriate to a bedroom.
To the right of the bed there is a beautiful large ensuite bathroom – pretty in pink. It contrasts with the bedroom in being very 1930s ‘modern’.
Moving through the Bathroom, which occupies a corner of the upper level of the house, one enters what was once a Dressing Room. It is a small room, and if the bedroom is ‘feminine’ then this small dressing room is quite ‘masculine’ in its feel. Again – a bit of a surprise considering that most dressing rooms in such mansion homes are distinctly feminine.
THE MAIN HALL – UPPER GALLERY
From the Master Bedroom one moves back into the Main Hall walking along the Upper Gallery, which has number of modern works, including a sculpture by Jacob Epstein of Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), a self-portrait of the painter, Augustus John (1878-1961) and another portrait of Bill Hayward.
SITTING ROOM – UPPER GALLERY
In the left corner on the upper level there is a tiny ‘Sitting Room’. Inside this room are a number of treasures that in many ways encapsulate Carrick Hill. There are two works by Stanley Spencer, Jacob Epstein’s Albert Einstein, and a ‘Still Life’ of flowers by Nora Heysen. There is also a beautiful panel of flowers that is placed in front of the fireplace. It encapsulates Carrick Hill and the Hayward’s aesthetic in the muted order of Spencer, the humanitarianism of Einstein, and the beauty of nature, the solace and reward of gardening as in Nora Heysen’s painting.
THE EXHIBITION ROOMS
The rooms next to this small sitting room have been converted to a small gallery, which holds special exhibitions. The subject of these exhibitions are very often linked to aspect of Carrick Hill. The current exhibition involved the ‘Mancini Pearls‘, a pair of drop earrings that have been owned by a number of extraordinary women, including Queen Mary I, Queen Elizabeth I, and Queen Henrietta-Maria, wife of King Charles I, and in the 20th Century, Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
In the same exhibition room that is focused on the ‘Mancini Pearls’ there was also a small painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) that was once owned by the Hayward’s.
In the second exhibition room there were works and other objects that were primarily concerned with Bill Hayward. This included the official royal charter for his knighthood in 1961, as well as a ‘modern’ water colour of the John Martin building in Adelaide, the home of the family business.
It also included the controversial painting by Sir William Dobell ( 1899-197) of the Australian artist Joshua Smith (1905-1995).
This painting won the Archibald Prize in 1943 but was subject to a number of court cases at the time, being considered a caricature and not an actual portrait. If my memory serves me correctly, either the Hayward’s or the SA Art Gallery were the owners of this painting. Whilst popular at the time it has not been seen for a while, due to it being severely damaged. The presence of this painting brings in a darkness to place, the painting being like a ghostly spectre of the real Joshua Smith who hated the portrait, it being more famous than his own work. He said of it, that it was a ‘curse, a phantom that haunts me. It has torn at me every day of my life. I’ve tried to bury it inside me in the hope it would die, but it never does’.
THE CORRIDORS – MAIN HALL
The corridor next to the exhibition room runs the full length of this side of the house. It also contains numerous paintings and drawings. Walking back into the Main Hall and down the staircase is also full of more ‘modern’ art works, that are distinctive due to the number of floral ‘still-life’ paintings.
As previously stated, Ursula Hayward was the person who was primarily responsible for establishing the garden that surrounds the house. There are a number of different sections, beginning with the short walk from the carpark to the house. The main garden area, however, lies in the front of the house overlooking Adelaide.This too has numerous sections to it and is a sheer delight to walk through. The front area has both formal and informal gardens. The informal gardens often contain ‘modern’ statues that stand in contrast, and yet in harmony, with their respective environment. The house is truly wonderful, but the garden area, for me anyway, it what makes Carrick Hill a truly magical and special place. The mood changes as per the gardens manner and style and content.
Through a gate in a wall you come to the top area in front of the house, with open lawns tumbling down to the formal gardens in front, and the informal garden to the left.
A perfect place to stage an Open-Air Shakespeare.
The two sides to the formal garden are separated by a enclosed vine pathway; like a tunnel that leads to the lower part of the formal garden.
Moving further down and through an opening in the large hedge reveals another wonderful vista of tree lined avenues and the city of Adelaide.
Coming back through this opening – to explore more of the formal garden.
Then moving to the right across the open lawn in front of the house.
The progressing up along side more hedges with informal gardens, and pond in front and formal gardens behind that lead back up to the driveway and entrance to the house.
This marks the end of this journey to Carrick Hill. This journey began with George Bernard Shaw and it seems fitting to end with him, or at least a statement that in way encapsulates the Hayward’s and their unique offering to the Australian public, a glimpse into the beauty of their souls, and as such a source of solace and inspiration.
John Boorman’s Hell in the Pacific is a curious WW2 film involving just two actors, Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune, playing respectively marooned soldiers on a deserted island in the Pacific. It is an extremely intense film, heightened by the language barrier that naturally exists between the two characters. Initially antagonistic towards one another the two characters find common ground in their mutual battle for survival. The rather abrupt ending is a bit disconcerting but it does leave one contemplating how it could end other than tragically. It is war that drove these two characters apart, it is the struggle for life that brings them together, and it is the return of war that finally destroys them.
John Boorman made this film in 1968, following his previous film with Lee Marvin, the excellent crime drama, Point Blank (1967), and four years before his masterwork Deliverance (1972). The film was shot in Rock Islands near Paulu, in the Philippine Sea. Unfortunately, the film did not do well at the box-office, but it is a film that I would recommend one to see. I like John Boorman’s films – they are not always absolutely perfect but they are always imaginative, intense and provocative, and invariably involve characters out of their so-called ‘comfort-zones’, in hostile worlds in which the battle for survival is paramount – such is the case with Hell in the Pacific. Furthermore, Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune are absolutely terrific.
Toshiro Mifune is one of my favourite actors of the twentieth century cinema. He did not make many ‘Western’ films, but as has been acknowledged Hell in the Pacific perhaps comes the closest in capturing Toshiro Mifune’s extraordinary screen presence, power and charisma that is so easily seen in the many masterpieces he did in Japan, especially with Akiro Kurosawa. I also recently watched Kurosawa’s film Scandal (1950), which stars Toshiro Mifune – and it is fantastic! I may be sounding like a obsessive fan but that old cliche that ‘he could make reading a telephone book interesting’ is one that I would certainly give to Toshiro Mifune.
Adelaide, ADELAIDE FESTIVAL CENTRE, ADELAIDE SPORTS OVAL, Australia, BOER WAR, CANOVA, CHARLES KINGSFORD SMITH, GALLIPOLI, HERCULES, PUBLIC ART, RIVER TORRENS, SIMPSON AND HIS DONKEY, South Australia, STATUES, VENUS, WAR MEMORIALS, WWI
PUBLIC ART: The Three Oldest Statues in Adelaide
After spending a large amount of this morning in a dentist’s chair, and feeling a bit numb in the mouth, I walked back to the Adelaide CBD from North Adelaide via the Torrens River. Once again – a fabulous discovery of just how exquisitely beautiful Adelaide is. showing off this lovely sunny February day, and reminding me of certain English, American and European towns that have a river running through it. It also gave me chance to further my file re public art. As mentioned in a previous blog – PUBLIC ART: SINGAPORE – my definition of ‘Public Art’ is basically anything that is in and for the public eye, which can include statues, graffiti, sketches, advertising, memorials, etc. Here are some photos I took on this walk.
I had no clear itinerary worked out, just ‘went with the flow’ as to where I meandered. I walked past the ADELAIDE OVAL, which is a large stylish modern building – with a number of statues of classical heroic athletes, such as Hercules, as well as modern Australian ones.
THE STATUE OF HERCULES, also known as The Farnese ‘Hercules’, sits in Pennington Gardens in front of the Adelaide Oval. It was the second public statue to be erected in Adelaide; given to the City of Adelaide in 1893 by William Austin Horn (1841-1922). W. A. Horn was a prominent South Australian businessman and politician, of whom it was once said that he was ‘one of the most generous public men‘ in South Australia.
Whilst it is a copy of an original, dating from 1892, nonetheless, it is rather unique, presenting a rather reflective and melancholic older-Hercules.
I should add that in 1892 William Austin Horn in had already donated what was Adelaide’s first piece of public art; a classical statue, a beautiful copy of Canova‘s VENUS. This statue was rather controversial at the time. The controversy was possibly inflamed as well as ignored by the fact that one of old Adelaide’s most popular ‘Gentlemen Club’ of the 1890s was directly across the road from the statue which lay on North Terrace in the CBD. Members of the club could go onto the balcony, enjoying their evening brandy or port and cigars, whilst list-fully gazing at this beautiful Canova ‘Venus’. The statue, as well as the building that hosted this club are still there on North Terrace – long may they be so!
The other statues that I noted as I wandered through Pennington Park was a rather impressive one of Sir Donald Bradman (1908-2001), and somewhat perversely one of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (1897-1935). What ‘Smithy’ has to do with sport and the Adelaide Sports Oval I’m not quite sure? Nonetheless, as it may be that younger (and older) Australians have no idea who Kingsford-Smith is (or rather, was), nor of his heroic importance to Australian and World-History, better that he is there smack-bang right at the entrance.
On the other side of the main road there are a number of gardens and war memorials. I didn’t go to all of them, but the ones I did were excellent and somewhat surprising. I’m starting to appreciate the unique quirkiness that one finds in Adelaide, as often as not expressed in it variable range of ‘public art’, which can sometimes be placed in somewhat ironic modern day position. For example, this beautiful stone cross that is right next to speed sign; I call the pix ‘Stone Crucifix in a 50km/hr zone’ (haha).
Attracted by one that had a plethora of petunias, I discovered a statue dedicated to WWI Australian Gallipoli hero John Simpson (1892-1915), of ‘Simpson and his Donkey‘ fame.
Just a little further on was another war memorial shrine, in a classical pagoda with a very unusual life-size statue on the steps.
From here I just walked straight down to the banks of the River Torrens – the vista speaks for itself – marvellous!
I walked towards the city along the bank footpath and under the bridge…..
….continuing my fascination with ‘pathways’, what they look like, and where they lead. The path under the bridge was no exception; plus I discovered a piece of ‘public art’ that I’m pretty sure most people passing through this ‘pathway’ would never really notice – a series of large blue tiles with black drawings and silhouettes.
Emerging from this tunnel, you get a fantastic view of the city of Adelaide, the River Torrens and the Festival Centre.
I then went up and crossed the bridge that becomes King William Street, one of the main roads that travels through the CBD. There are parks and gardens on both sides of the road, but the biggest is the open park in front of the Festival Centre, looking directly across the Torrens to the Sports Centre.
I continued walking up King William Street until it meets North Terrace. Just next to the Festival Centre, on the other side from the park and the river, there are a number of examples of ‘public art’, modern and those from a more distant time.
Was particularly taken with this one; playing with the reflections….
And this lovely drawing near the entrance to the Festival Centre Car Park….
Finally, at the corner of King William Street and North Terrace there is rather impressive War Memorial statue, of a soldier and his horse in action. What is wonderfully intriguing about this terrific bronze statue is that it is dedicated to those South Australians who served in the Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902); the same war that saw the court martial and execution of Lieutenant Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant (1864-1902). Morant’s name is not on any of bronze inscription panels that are places around the statue’s pedestal, which list the names of those who fought in the Boer War. However, the name of his comrade, Lieutenant Peter Handcock (1868-1902), who was also courtmartialed and executed at the same time as ‘Breaker’ Morant, was added in 1964 after a family and public campaign to do so.
The statue was designed and created by Adrian Jones (1885-1938); another of this English sculptor’s work, his ‘public art’, is the The Peace Quadriga that sits atop of Wellington Arch in London. After a vigorous competition involving public opinion, The pedestal was made by local firm Garlick, Sibley and Wooldridge, the granite coming from nearby Murray Bridge. The statue was offical unveiled at a big civic function by Sir George Le Hunte (1852-1925), Governor of South Australia from 1903-1909. The date, 6 June 1904, was chosen carefully, coinciding with the birthday of the then Prince of Wales, later King George V (1865-1936).
From the time of it’s unveiling up to present day, this memorial statue, placed right in front of Government House, has been central to any Australian war meorial function, including ANZAC Day. The statue has been known by a number of names. Initially it was the National War Memorial, a position it held until 1931. Today it is called The South African War Memorial and/or The Boer War Memorial.
What is simply wonderful – well I find wonderful in my own romantic way – is that The South African War Memorial, as well as the Canova ‘Venus’, and the Fernese ‘Hercules’, have all witnessed and played a part in the history and evolution of Adelaide. For many Adelaidians over the centuries these statues would have been, as they are now, part of the background for contemporary life and lives. They may not have been directly and regularly noted and commented upon, but was something buried in the conscious and sub-conscious, particularly in regard to memory and place. A common reference point for a number of people from Adelaide, the surrounding region and South Australia. A Collective Memory – what we see now other also saw in the past. Something to treasure!
I have no idea what drew me to watch Francis in the Navy this afternoon. Whilst out shopping I came upon a DVD copy in a $5 bin – and debated internally whether or not to follow my impulse and buy it. In my childhood and teenage years I can remember watching at least some of the Francis films on TV; so I was aware of the film series. What I couldn’t remember was whether or not I had seen this film. My justification for this ‘impulse buy’ continued – I can include it as part of my on-going investigation into American Drama in the 1950s, as well as not having a copy of any of the Francis films this would make and excellent addition to my private collection, particularly in regards to American Comedy, etc. I bought it. Little did I realize that I had bought a real little gem of a film, that subsequently led to a number of different discoveries; such as – this is the first film credit for Clint Eastwood who makes a number of appearances as one of the US Navy sailors involved in the plot, appearing alongside with featured players and ‘stars’, Donald O’Connor, Martha Hyer, and Jim Backus. Also – discovering more about the director, Arthur Lubin (1898-1995) whose life and body of work, now largely forgotten, was quite exceptional and successful.
Francis The Talking Mule was a popular American film series, comprising seven films starting with Francis (1950) and ending with Francis in the Haunted House (1956). The series starred Donald O’Connor a wonderful and energetic American comedian who is probably best known for his hilarious performance in Singin’ in The Rain (1952), with Chill Wills memorably providing the voice for ‘Francis’, in what is distinctly an Afro-American accent – language, rhythm and pitch; Wills was ‘white’.
The relationship between ‘Francis’ and his human, ‘Peter Sterling’ (played by Donald O’Connor) operates like and old American vaudeville act, not dissimilar to the Abbott and Costello; at one stage they even call each other ‘mate’. In the same vintage as Bert Williams‘ persona, Francis is the wise and wisecracking old sage who helps his incompetent human survive the challenges of life in a number of different scenarios. These comic scenarios follow conventional forms and means of ‘classical’ comedy, such as ‘mistaken identity’, slapstick humour (plenty of pratfalls etc), and quick witty dialogue dominated by wise-cracks. Furthermore, following contemporary comparisons, the films of Abbott and Costello and the Marx Brothers, the situation of each film is summed up in the title of the respective films, such as Francis in the Navy (1955). The similarity between the Francis and the Abbott and Costello film series is understandable. They shared a director, ARTHUR LUBIN.
First and foremost, to enjoy any of the Francis films you need to be a fan of Donald O’Connor. I am – ever since I first saw Singin’ in the Rain. The vitality and inventive expressiveness of Donald O’Connor’s comic persona gives a boost to any of the many films in which he performed. This particular comic zanni persona, a modern-day Harelquino, is encapsulated in his work, such as in Singin’ in The Rain with his brilliant performance of the song Make ‘Em Laugh; and also in Francis in the Navy. The basic comic scenario for this film is ‘mistaken identity’, with Donald O’Connor playing dual roles, Lieutenant Peter Sterling (in the US Army), and his ‘doppelganger’ Bosun’s Mate ‘Slicker’ Donovan (in the US Navy); complicated by Francis being sold to the Navy. In one scene involving both characters there is the ‘classic’ fake ‘mirror’ comic scenario, with the ‘Slicker’ character mimicing what the the Peter Sterling character does in order to avoid detection etc. It is a short scene that doesn’t necessarily advance the plot, but it is an example of style of American Hollywood comedy that sadly is no longer really present in modern film comedies, one where the ‘star’ comedian does a particular ‘classic’ act; in this case the fake ‘mirror’ act. O’Connor is fantastic in this scene; with his characteristic quickness and physical agility and inventive expressiveness. There is also Donald O’Connor’s version of the ‘classic’ mimicry ‘boxing match’ scenario, made famous by Chaplin, whereby his Peter Sterling character has to pretend to be an expert boxer – and he is not – so has to fake it. Hilarious!
I think, however, it can be acknowledged that comic genius’ that these artists may be, nonetheless, they needed a director to help bring out the best in them. Taking into account the relatively large number of films they respectively did together it would seem that Donald O’Connor, as well as Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, had a very productive and successful collaboration with their director, Arthur Lubin.
Arthur Lubin is a fascinating Hollywood director. As a young man he was considered quite a radical – being arrested for ‘obscenity’ in Los Angeles in 1925 for putting on a production of Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms (1924). He was, however, in his main film-making days in the 1940s and 1950s considered a stable and reliable ‘studio director’, particularly of B-Grade comedies. Even though Rubin had a desire to do more than just the comedies, nonetheless, his particular skill was in successfully harnessing and directing comic masters – not an easy feat. Major films that Lubin made include, the first ‘musical’ film version of The Phantom of the Opera (1943) with Nelson Eddy and Claude Rains, and Rhubard (1951), a truly wonderful American ‘screwball’ comedy about a cat who inherits a professional base-ball team. Cat-lovers – watch it; it’s terrific!
The Francis the Talking Mule film series sits in the background of the early 1950s in the USA. Whilst there are a number of ‘Cold War’ references, notably both US Army and Navy being involved in a kind of ‘war games’, nonetheless, it is not a major feature – a statement in itself.
Writing this post won’t stop the cultural amnesia associated with all of this, but it does give it a pause, and maybe encourage you to watch some of these films.
THE CLARE VALLEY is about 130 kms north of Adelaide, easily accessible, just a 90 minutes drive down excellent highways and roads, and absolutely spectacular landscapes and scenery!
The following is a photographic record of a local Tony’s Tours trip to the Clare Valley, and in particular Skillogalee Vineyard and Paulett’s Vineyard, just two of the over fifty vineyards in the region.
It seems almost cliche, yet as with any cliche there is always an element of truth, but one thing you are bound to do when visiting Adelaide is to be taken to one (or more) of the justly celebrated wine vineyards just outside the city in the Barossa Valley, McClaren Vale and Clare Valley. Adelaidians take great pleasure in taking visitors and friends to the vineyards in these regions, many with highly rated ‘fine dining’ restaurants. Since moving to Adelaide last April I have been fortunate to go to a number of different vineyards in the Barossa Valley and McClaren Vale, as well as in the nearby Mt Lofty Ranges, but I hadn’t as yet been to the Clare Valley.
The Clare Valley is one of the oldest wine growing regions in Australia, starting with European settlement in the 1840s. Vineyards and wine-making was not initially the primary industry when the region was first settled by a diverse cultural and ethnic mix. Grapes, however, did accompany the first group of crops planted, and continued to be so throughout the development of the region. The Clare Valley still has a diversity in crops, people and places, but it is the vineyards that are the main tourist attraction – and deservedly so – with many vineyards being regarded as not just the best in Australia but also world-wide.
The wine for which the Clare Valley is mostly known for is Riesling. The region also produces excellent red wines, notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. It is, however, the Riesling that people come for, many following and enjoying the ‘tasting’ journey through the region called The Riesling Trail.
Skillogalee Vineyard and Paulett’s Vineyard are well known for producing all these wines, and more; not just the fabulous ‘tastings’ but also the delicious award-winning ‘fine dining’ restaurants – and both set within magnificent country landscapes and gardens.
After an leisurely drive to the Clare Valley, it was easy finding Skillogalee Vineyard due to good sign-posting, just a short drive off the main road that traverses the region. There is old homestead of the left, which houses the well-known and very popular restaurant, surrounded by massive grape crops on either side of the road,
‘Reception’ doubles as the ‘wine tasting’ room (more later)….You move through the relatively small but cozy house, with two small living rooms with old fire-places for those who desire indoor dining (great for Winter), to the slender verandah at the rear of the house. The notion of smallness continued as we were sat for lunch at a rather small wooden table. As it worked out, however, it didn’t matter; with the excellent service we ordered lunch and then went to a pre-meal wine ‘tasting’.
The vineyard lives up its reputation – the wines we tasted were fantastic! Personal favourite was the Late Harvest Riesling. Sign of a good wine, at least for me and my palate, is how easy is it to drink. In this it case, I loved it so much I had two generously filled glasses with my lunch.
A little inebriated and full of good cheer we returned to our table. The meal wasn’t actually ready as yet, one our party somewhat wisely having ordered a chicken dish that would take 30 minutes, giving us enough time for the ‘tasting’. However, after the ‘tasting’ we were ravenous. In order to kill a bit of time I went exploring the garden that lay to the side and below us.
The lunch was superb!
For ‘Entre’ I had a divine potato, leek and bacon soup – Heaven! This was followed as my ‘Main’ a Malaysian-Australian cuisine fusion of a slow cooked pork on balsamic rice, which virtually melted in one’s mouth – Double Heaven!! Couldn’t resist the dessert – neither could my companions. Somewhat amusingly, when initially ordering our lunch, after looking through the mouth-watering and pricey menu we had all decided just to have two courses – ‘Entres ‘and ‘Mains’; however, subsequently, the food being so good we also had dessert – Triple Heaven!!! I had an ‘affogato’ with a simply yummy home-made vanilla ice-cream, accompanied by the Skillogalee Vineyard’s amazing muscat liqueur. Quadruple Heaven!!!!! And all this complemented by excellent wines and coffee. Highly recommended.
After lunch we drove the relatively short distance to Paulett’s Vineyard. This vineyard has won numerous awards, notably for its excellent red wines – Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
The restaurant and ‘tasting’ bar is a in a relatively modern building, perched high on a hill that looks over a truly majestic and sweeping vista of the Clare Valley.
I was a little over drinking and actually had had my fill, nonetheless, the other joys and wonders of Paulett’s Vineyard marked this as a place that I most definitely would like to come back to one day.
Whilst my companions were tasting wines I went to the adjacent garden; a ‘native garden’ named Bush Divine.
The Garden – Bush Divine
Bush Divine is a relatively large ‘native garden’, from which the vineyard uses various Australian plants, herbs and flowers in the restaurant, as well as producing numerous jams and pickled items. I wandered through this terrific garden, learning more about edible native plants and flowers, as well as enjoying the various nooks and crannies within the garden, some of which contain somewhat curious and amusing objects, and all with stunning views of the Clare Valley. Fantastic!
All in all – wonderful!
There are a lot more vineyards and old historic towns that one can visit in the Clare Valley. I hope this post stimulates your interest, as well as your taste buds, to go for a visit – you won’t be disappointed.
PUBLIC ART has existed in numerous forms and functions since the beginning of recorded time. Even the oldest cave drawings by ancient indigenous tribes in number of areas in the world, from Europe to Asia, to Australasia, Oceania and the Americas, can be seen as the first examples. In each case, these primitive works were partly created to articulate to others a particular message that complements the given circumstances of time and place. So to does PUBLIC ART today – in a variety of ways.
Throughout time the needs and expression of PUBLIC ART has been widely diverse, complementing the historical, geographical, financial, socio-political and cultural context of a specific artist and/or specific group and/or cause. For example, the beginning of work reflecting environmental concerns began in earnest in the 1960s and 1970s, which collectively can be called turbulent decades of social protest and change, including global awareness and protests over perceived abuse of Mother Earth. Environmental concerns are still very much a major feature in numerous modern works of PUBLIC ART.
I have longed been fascinated with PUBLIC ART, classical and modern. Broadly speaking, I define PUBLIC ART as any work that is designed to be shared in public, in a public place, and that has some contemporary public purpose and meaning – and includes statues, fountains, war memorials, shrines, graveyards, churches, temples, as well as the numerous forms of ‘street art’, graffiti, as well advertising a particular product or place.
The following is from recent works of PUBLIC ART over the past 5 years that have attracted my attention, starting with SINGAPORE