Tag Archives: Australian art

Stories in art…

Pelaco Shirt Factory, Melbourne – (left) vintage advertising posters, 1951, and (right) 1952 painting by Eric Thake (1904-1982). 

factory life, migrant life, migrant stories…
Pelaco Shirt Factory, 1952 by Eric Thake, watercolour, gouache and pencil on paper.

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Three shades of mimosa…

Italian feminists first chose the mimosa (wattle) flower as a symbol to mark the first International Women’s Day after the end of World War II in 1946. They chose it for its bright colour, scent and plentiful availability at the time of year and their tradition spread across the world.

Estelle Mary (Jo) Sweatman (1872- 1956) is considered to be one of Australia’s most famous painters of wattle (mimosa). (Like most women artists, her name and artworks were not made as well-known like many male artists of the same era.)

First thing this morning, I received this text…

Happy International Women’s Day Zoë !
I hope you can enjoy a little time today to reflect on the achievements of all the other great women.
Dad xx

It made my day. Especially knowing Dad grew up in an era that was so very different for women. And while Mum has been gone a very long time now, I can also hear her voice in his words. I’m so grateful for all the inspirational women who have kept on despite all the setbacks put in front of them because of their gender, yet who persevered to achieve changes, both small and large, that overall make a great difference.

There was a time a woman couldn’t get a book published, then had to publish under a male name and there was also a time that as a woman with a migrant surname it would have been even harder for me to have my writing published. I really appreciate and am thankful for how far women have come and for continuing to persist and also to the strong, just, kind men who support them and keep doing so. Auguri per la Festa della Donna! 💛

Wattle trees on the Riverbank, c.1910s-20s, oil on canvas by Estelle Mary (Jo) Sweatman (1872-1956). 

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Ethel’s Chooks…

Ethel's chooks webPerhaps it’s old-fashioned but I still have a wall calendar where I write up all that’s happening. This year it features paintings by William T. Cooper (1934-2015) an Australian artist who painted mostly natural subjects, especially birds. He painted with extreme precision so if there were a certain number of a certain colour feathers then that is exactly what he depicted.

While he painted many exotic species too, I love this painting, Ethel’s Chooks, which Cooper painted of his neighbour’s chooks that free ranged around the farm. When I sit down to my desk each day, seeing the work and precision Cooper put into his art is inspiring. His career as an artist spanned more than 50 years and he continued to paint into his 80s.


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the fairy tree dwellers…

The Fairy TreePart of The Fairies Tree in Fitzroy Gardens, carved in the early 1930s by sculptor Ola Cohn {1892-1964} as a gift to the children of Melbourne. Though my own childhood is distant, I found myself rushing through the gardens to find it. And while there were plenty of beautifully carved tree folk to capture, I was taken by this little group hiding in a notch near the base of the trunk, and especially like the owl.

Afterwards, I read, “A Way with the Fairies”, Ola Cohn’s autobiography, and it was interesting to learn more of this Australian sculptor and philanthropist. For many female artists of a certain era, sadly, their work did not always receive all the recognition it may have merited.

Fairy spiderA gift to the children of Melbourne…

“I have carved a tree in the Fitzroy Gardens for you and the fairies, but mostly for the fairies and those who believe in them. For they will understand how necessary it is to have a fairy sanctuary – a place that is sacred and safe as a home should be to all living creatures.”  Ola Cohn

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