The good years 1966-1973. (Auto biography)

Gertrude's Cottage.

Gertrude’s Cottage.

With the birth of our two daughters, life in Gertrude’s cottage was enjoyed on a steady forward path. I remember it mainly as a very bright sunny yellow reflection on the timber floor with a shimmering expanse of water in the distance. A  few years of uninterrupted family bliss. I had my own business. The painting of pictures was done in between shooting out to deliver material or organise meetings with builders, clerk of works or quoting for new contracts.  I can’t remember if I had an easel or  just painted on the floor. Most of my work was entered into municipal competitions and I had a list of dates and places of when and where to send the paintings. I do remember that the size of the paintings became larger and larger perhaps in tandem with the growing of our little family. An expression of exuberance? The paintings also became braver.

It was one of those inexplicable fates of lucky circumstance that I met a Hungarian painter who taught art in the very heart of Sydney. It was at Sydney’s Rocks, just metres away from the Harbour bridge. His name was Desiderius Orban.  He had established himself as a modern and successful painter. He had also published a book on art and was a well-known  teacher. He did not really teach in the sense that he showed you a skill or technique. He encouraged rather than taught and very much pushed the students in expressing whatever was in them and did not care if you painted with a brush, a stick or your fingers. He was already very old but even so, lived on forever. Some people when getting old seem to get a new burst of live when already well past the age when most people are happy to take a permanent rest in the urn or the reserved plot of no return. He died aged 101.!

Another of those artists that seem to deny or defy the welcoming (but icy embrace) of the dearly departed is John Olsen. Readers might remember I took art lessons at the Mary White school of art  where he and Robert Klippel were doing some teaching. This was before my marriage while still living at home.  Both were free spirits and  indeed used to go to the local pub and imbibe a couple, only to return rather jovial and praising all students no matter what they had cobbled together.

John Olsen is still alive today ( 30/7/2015) and one of the only too rare an instance where his paintings are selling for millions and the artist able to enjoy it. How Vincent would turn is his grave?

With the continuation of entering my paintings in competition it would be outside the law of averages, if sooner or later, I would not hit the jack-pot. Hitting the jackpot might be a bit exaggerated  seeing the prices were rather within the limits of the Shire’s income forever struggling with keeping rates low. It was more of a way to climb the ladder to getting known and even more important, able to sell the work. I did win a couple of prices and more importantly had a painting accepted in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

It was also in that year that Helvi visited her family in Finland with both our daughters. I stayed behind to continue the decorating business. I had promised to look after the eldest daughter’s teddy bear by giving it porridge. The KLM flight included a photo taken of Helvi carrying the youngest in the Papoose which at the time was a novel way of traveling with very young children. This photo went world wide in the KLM’s magazine. It was a great shot and just wished I could find it. Alas it is ‘somewhere’ in our apartment but hidden in either boxes, linen- drawers or even albums, …


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17 Responses to “The good years 1966-1973. (Auto biography)”

  1. Carrie Rubin Says:

    Sounds like those were some blissful years. A new family and the opportunity for you to create art. Very nice.


  2. sedwith Says:

    Fine set of influences of Mr Orban. Couldn’t see your billabong but spose I had to sign up. On the basis of your previous posts it comes with good pedigree. Maybe you’ll outlive them all with your attitude to life Gerard.


  3. bkpyett Says:

    Enjoyed your post Gerard, but disappointed not to see Billabong.
    Congratulations for being chosen to hang in the Wynne Prize!
    Great to remember the good years and your excellent teachers too.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Billabong was actually in possession of my late son. It now rests in the garage and I shall try and retrieve it and show it in my next post.
      What is a rather pleasing event to reflect back on is that not only was my painting hung in the NSW gallery but that the walls that my painting and that of hundreds of other(far more) famous artists’ paintings were hung, was painted by me as well. The extension of the NSW art gallery was finished just prior to this exhibition.


  4. rod Says:

    Loved the story about promising to feed the teddy bear porridge.
    I wonder why Orban changed his first name and whether his wife was with him when he came to Australia. I even wonder if he is related to the present PM of Hungary, who is turning into an authoritarian figure now.

    You clearly had a great life then, as I believe you still do.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I don’t know why he changed his name but he and his wife lived together till she died. He had a son who became a pathologist and he was actually the one (or his staff) who studied my sample ‘post vasectomy’ and declared it was safe to resume sexual relations without risking another pregnancy.
      Strange how life throws some things together.


  5. elizabeth2560 Says:

    “A few years of uninterrupted family bliss.”
    What a wonderful place to be.


  6. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I’m right with you Gerard. There were years of bliss when children were getting along, my business as well was getting along, The Dr. business was good, and my work was selling, and my writing was getting off the ground. Of course, my body was working well too! It is all good now too, with children and grandchildren grown, and great grandchildren on their way. Though many things remain in the past, I’m not ready yet to sit in the sunlight, and I sure don’t think about that urn you spoke of. I’ve come to the conclusion that the early years of some struggle and anticipation are great legacy.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      As yet no great grandchildren but with the eldest being 15 it would be a bit of a worry. I am typing now wearing the multi focal spectacles and have to move my head up to get letters in sharp focus. Yet when walking I have to move my head down to see where my feet have to go. Sometimes it becomes a rather confusing world. It’s all so much up and down.
      Say hello to the good Dr too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lottie Nevin Says:

    What an extremely talented fellow you are. I’m sad not to be able to see the picture that won you the prize but I’ve seen a bit of your work in past posts and I know how excellent it is – very prize worthy. I’m now in love with the name Desiderius – far too good to be wasted. I shall have to snuck it in to a story or something. If I’d known about it earlier I might well have called our new kitten after him. He sounds like a proper art teacher too – the kind that I had when I was at art school, real old school. They don’t make them like that any more 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Patti Kuche Says:

    Were you ever tempted to discretely initial the walls of the NSW Art Gallery once you finished painting them? How thrilling to have your work hanging there!


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