Francis Webb wrote this poem Harry in 1964, in Parramatta Psychiatric Hospital, when he was there for schizophrenia. The poem is about a young boy of 15 Harry, who had been placed there because he was called a Mongol. Today we would call them Down Syndrome. It is the day they have to write letters home to the loved ones. He watches him as he sits in his striped shirt at a table with all the tools he needs to write this letter. With no formal education does this boy know the alphabet to be able to put words together? He seems engrossed in his work and keeps on writing. As he watches, he is asking himself if this young boy belongs here. Is it because of how he looks with food around his mouth and his distorted face, unable to communicate with people? The screams of the children when they see him or the adults looking in disgust at an imbecile walking the streets. Put him away so nobody can see him, so they are safe of the ugliness, and everything is perfect in their world. What about Harry he hasn’t done anything wrong, nobody comes to visit him. He lives in a world of sickness and abuse, no one to love him or hold him for comfort. He is just hidden away out of sight out of mind. As in the last line of the poem, each week he writes a letter and addresses it to no known address.
The OZ? Tapestry is a beautiful and vibrant piece of work. I
love the colours and the simple way Martin Sharp has put all together.
The first thing I see when looking at it is the Southern Cross,
which is right in the middle of the tapestry and has explosions coming out of
it. I have read this is to represent the fireworks when we celebrate things
like New Year’s Eve.
When I look at the First Fleet part, I had to laugh as Uluru
is in the water. Sharp has a great way of putting all the things that are
Australia in the tapestry.
Luna Park is there, and in the 1970s a fire in the Ghost Train happened with people dying. It reminds us that life is short and precious.
The hot sun is there as well. There are Aboriginal hand paintings of lost animals that we may never see again. Dingos fish and birds are all there.
The Harbour Bridge and Opera House are there, and Australia
is there with Canberra marked for the National Capital.
Around the edges are lines from Bernard O’Dowd’s poem “Australia”. Martin Sharp has based this tapestry on this poem.
In the poem, O’Dowd is asking if we have made mistakes, by
trying to make it look like England. He wants it to be a land of its own.
In the tapestry Sharp has portrayed that we have made Australia our own now, with bits of English influence there as well. I like this tapestry as it is simple and to the point. Anyone can see what he is trying to portray to the people.
What a great day we had at the art gallery. It was my first time there. I was in awe of all the paintings. I was able to see Australia through the eyes of the early white Australians. Then I could see the very different way the Aborigines did their paintings.
Our blog this week is to pick a painting that spoke to us. I picked “Bailed Up” by Tom Roberts. When I was a young girl we were told many stories about family members. One story that stands out the most is this.
There was a young couple who had married. They went to Melbourne, in their own buggy, for their honeymoon. They had been travelling for days. One day they were held up by bushrangers. They told them to take everything they had, but please spare their life. The bushranger asked them what they were doing. He explained they were on their honeymoon. The bushranger then gave them the money and items back with a little extra money and told them to go on their way. Then they heard “Have a long and happy life.” At the next town, they told people what had happened to them and were told: “that sounds like the Kelly Gang.” They were so grateful and never saw them again.
Bailed Up By Tom Roberts (1895)
This painting stood out to me because
as a child I loved the stories of bushrangers. In year 6 our teacher read the
story of Captain Thunderbolt. He made us feel like we were in the story. From
then on I have been interested in the history of bushrangers.
In the painting, I see a bright sunny day. The landscape is rugged and brown. A tree has been put across the track. I can see the wealthy in the stagecoach and they are being held up. This must have been a terrifying time for them, even though Roberts has made them look like they are very calm and casual. They look like they are having a nice chat with them. They don’t look worried or scared. The bushrangers don’t look hard or threatening. In this time in Australia there were only two types of people, the rich and the poor. So to help keep them surviving the men have been made to rob from the rich to buy food and things they need. To me, it is a Robin Hood story.
Roberts has made this painting look
bright, even though it is mainly in browns, it is more colourful then some
other paintings we have seen. This is a typical way we see early Australia in
the early days. There is no aggressiveness and Roberts has put the romance in
the painting. To me, this is a beautiful painting.
The start of this poem, “I span and Eve span”, can be taken in many ways. In my mind, Dame Mary Gilmore is talking about herself and every woman that has been in the same position as she is writing about, all through time. This poem can be put in any decade on how women feel in her marriage.
It is about a woman who is in love with a man. The thread that is talked about is the bond they have. Though the man is made not to care and is a wanderer. Is he wondering to find work? Does he have a purpose? These are all the thing that are going through her mind. Being at home looking after the children and coping with being alone for long periods of time. This is the role men put women into as they thought they were the stronger sex, but as it has shown throughout time women are the stronger ones. They have to keep the family together, find food and most of all give love and encouragement to the family. Through all this, the bond has got stronger with them. Some of the time they feel that the thread has turned into a chain and was taking away their comforts in life.
As the poem goes further on it says that he is strong, fond and true. She thinks that he is weak, his fondness was fading and his wasn’t truthful. He was like a swing door in the wind. Then in from the wondering track he comes home. The thread is still there and they open up their arms to each other and embrace. She pulls him to her breast and everything is as it should be. I have a vision that in the time it was written the men could do as they pleased. Either to wonder off to find work or find other relationships. This is a very strong poem that shows a very strong women.
As Charles grew up he was schooled by his father, who was the school master of Windsor NSW. The only books they had were from the English culture. As Australia was only a young country they hadn’t established their own way of talking. So this influenced him in the way he could describe the Australian Bush.
He talked about the bush as if it was an English forest. Instead of words like, bush, branch, tan and red, he used the words forest, bough, tawny and vermeil. This made it hard to understand. When we looked into the meaning of the words it became a lot clearer.
Our summer days are really hot. I remember when we were young, we would try to find some where cool to sit. Mum would put a blanket on the ground under some shade. We would lay there. Not a sound could be heard.
I can imagine Charles doing the same thing. Looking for some relief of the midday heat. Laying on the ground under a tree. Not hearing anything, until the beetle comes and disturbs his quite time. The humming and the colour in the sun light has caught his attention. He sits up to watch it flying around. Watching the different colours shining in the sunlight. Listening to the humming until it flies away. He then lays down and all is quiet again.
In 2008 my niece Monique started High school. She was having problems with the assessments and asked me for some help. I helped her all the way through by pointing her in the right direction and lots of encouragement. It didn’t stop there as her sister Alana started High school and I helped her as well. This has started to be a normal thing for me as I have two of my Grandchildren in school. Chloe is in Year 12 and doing well. Emily is in Year 10 and is having lots of problems with school. It has taken me 7 months to get her on the right road and I hope this will go well for her.
My sister and I volunteer at the primary school my niece Tahlia Year 6 and Granddaughter Lilly Year 5. The principal came to us and asked if we would like to do a University course, telling us it was only for 12 weeks. I thought about this for a while and remember how I struggled through school. Then I thought that this course was for me and I went to the first day.
It was a very intimidating time listening to the things we would do. They made us feel welcome and assured us we could all do this course. I felt a lot better. I have now enrolled and have done the first class. My goal is to finish the 2 years and graduate at the end. This is to show all my nieces and grandchildren you can do anything you want at any age.