Posts Tagged ‘Etchings’

The scroll of etchings and all things nude and nature.

July 7, 2020

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-06/my-brain-on-nature-healing-sarah-allely/12266522

We all know the healing effects of nature and that being away from nature can be very damaging. But, how damaged can we get being away from art? Of course, almost everything that give one a feeling of wonderment or surprises, delights or gives us new insight probably can be accepted as art. The dictionary describes art as the creation of works of beauty but then also adds making works of great or special significance. Perhaps things that are frightening or cruel can also include as being art. Dante’s inferno or some images of Botticelli can be very confronting even though we know him more as the creator of beauty and goddesses of love seated on giant sea shells. He also painted some rather gruesome scenes of murder and incitements to wars.

After moving to the new place I discovered a forgotten large roll of butcher paper that has moved a few times without getting a look at. This time my daughter unrolled some of it and it turned out to be a large roll of etchings that I did sometime during the 1990 when I did a certificate course in printmaking. Of course, I have many etchings and I often invite friends to come over and look at my etchings.
During those 1990’s I had set up an etching press in our garage in Balmain and I loved making etchings. The copper plates on which I did the engravings and the use of acid in the baths in which to dip the plates were all part of the Technical college equipment. All I did was to actually print at home the etchings from the finished plates on my own printing press, which was a converted mangle use for mangling clothes… It was simple but not perfect but good enough for my etchings. The works I did were not to achieve technical excellence in printmaking but more as a way in expressing, rather impatiently, images in a more spontaneous way using copper. The fertile mind seemed to express mainly nude women and flowers, but that’s a different story better told at some next time. There is a lot here!
After rediscovering this roll I decided to hang it on my stairs which has a wall with at least a few metres of space to suspend it from. The first thing to do was to get a ladder onto the stairs.
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Ladder
After getting the ladder in an upright position I had to get my legs onto the rungs and somehow with hammer, nails and the scroll of butchers paper all under one arm with the other arm holding onto the rungs of the ladder while climbing right to the top. Not such an easy task. Mind you, I did work for some time hanging outside multi story building swinging from bosun’s chairs. I do not fear ladders or heights. The next photo shows my legs (both of them) getting ready to ascend the ladder.
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Legs, both of them.
At some stage after having climbed past the widow and as high as possible with my head against the stair’s ceiling I had to let go of the ladder’s rungs in order to place the scroll of etchings against the wall suspended by a bamboo rod (all in keeping with the oriental meme of the scroll). It is impossible to screw something single handed. One can imagine doing all this on my own. However, the results speak for themselves. A wonderful position to, after all those decades, have found a way to show this forgotten scroll of etchings.
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The scroll of etchings
In order to try and restore this butcher’s paper scroll of thirty years of age I had to somehow fix the paper’s fragile condition with a good preservative and restore its strength. I gave it about ten coats of varnish, hence the sheen on the surface.
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Etchings
The only problem still to solve is that the scroll now overhangs the entrance to the stairs whereby anyone going up or down has to duck past this scroll. The scroll is longer than the wall.
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overhanging scroll
Nothing is easy but I am overjoyed that my etchings are hanging so nicely.
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Frank and own House.

May 18, 2015
Life in the garage with mother looking on. My Lambretta scooter with sister Dora.

Life in the garage with mother looking on. My Lambretta scooter with sister Dora.

With so much happening despite the dramas, the joys, and many tearful tribulations, life in the garage assumed some normality, even became routine. Things fell into place. We got a pet dog and chickens were bought at the markets in Sydney at 6 weeks of age. They all turned into roosters. Dad could not eat chickens from the shop let alone our own roosters. The roosters probably killed each other or possibly got killed by that dog in the photo. I think my brother John started breeding his pigeons after the debacle of the fighting roosters.  We all had our place and those who worked kept surrendering earnings to our chief accountant who was now targeting the next objective; the building of our own home. After two years of some very tight turning and twisting in the crowded garage our house was built and we moved in. It was a glorious day. My mother’s saving and scrimping were legendary amongst  immigrant’s communities. She used to scrape the butter from the paper, shake the tomato sauce bottle, and empty the last smidgen of jam, that I have yet to see repeated anywhere in the world. And I have seen some scrapings! She sewed, patched, and knitted with not a minute to waste. If it was loose not nailed down, mother made it either into a meal or into garments or something useful, even pan holders. It was no wonder we could get the house built after just two years in the garage.

The photo above shows me on my scooter just before taking a round trip Sydney to Melbourne through the Snowy Mountains. It would be a trip of well over two thousand kilometres. I packed enough clothing, a small tent and some cooking utensils, including I suppose, a fork and knife. I went with a Dutch friend who had a Vespa. Vespa were considered a bit more upmarket. During that period I became part of a scooter club that met fortnightly at an ambulance-hall in Parramatta. My friend took a complete suit with him. He knew a girl from the Migrant boat that lived near Melbourne!  He planned to visit her. I did not know any girls but was keen on them from a distance anyway.

Hand coloured etching

Hand coloured etching

The trouble with Frank might well have been one reason for this trip. I wanted to get away!  It was such a creeping illness. The behaviour did not add up and it must have been such a puzzle. Why would Frank so often behave  bizarre?  He  was his own worst person and even though at times he was sorry for his behaviour, it would not stop and seemed incapable of stopping. My parents hoped that with the move into bigger house, things would get better. We were counselled by my mother to try and accept Frank and include him more. However all of us were younger than Frank. We might have felt sorry, I did, but we also had own friends, own growing up to do. Slowly Frank did become excluded. It was all too strange and upsetting.  I would hear my parents talking into the deep of the night about the problem of Frank. It crept into our lives as nothing before, not even the experiences of migration and the sardine-like condition in our previous fibro garage came close to this problem, let alone understanding the reasons or getting it resolved. It was all getting dark and joy of our own house was slowly leaching away.  It could be tempting to feel that the migration and other traumas effected Frank badly but there were already things with Frank before the immigration from Holland.  I remember Frank was taken out of high-school in Holland to learn a trade with a watchmaker. However, it did not last long…Frank’s behaviour already then was becoming erratic. He would be very obsessive about certain things and not with other more important issues. He was becoming a bit outside of things.

My parents in front of their old house. It was their last visit to Australia.

My parents in front of their old house. It was their last visit to Australia.

After Frank’s run with so many jobs in Australia, almost on a weekly basis, it must have dawned on my parents that Frank had a serious problem. It all came to a head when once again Frank had become violent and thrown a pair of scissors at his brother John. The scissors were sticking out of John’s thigh. My father took the pointy scissors out while Frank escaped through the front door. At the time dad was doing some drying of dishes. Dad followed Frank outside with the dish towel still hanging over his shoulder. Frank was faster but both run up the hill with dad in pursuit. Frank, half way up the hill then ran into someone’s garden and hid himself between the bushes. As dad arrived with tea towel still slung over his shoulder, the owner of the house and his garden came out brandishing a shot gun. Without mucking about or further ado or contemplation of this strange event and Frank hiding in his azaleas, the man pointed his gun at the sky and fired a deafening shot.  This seemed to calm the situation. The police arrived and Frank was taken away. This was the last day in Frank’s life where he would enjoy a normal family life. Of course, ‘normal family life’ is open to question and has endless variations. Nothing is really normal. So much still to come and so many answers for begging.

The throwing of a geographical Dart in Sydney.

May 16, 2015

IMG_20150503_0002This photo taken after the house was built on our own block. Mother’s sister ‘Agnes’ on a visit, then  Frank, my father, Herman with cat, my mother. Seated are sister Dora with cat and Adrian with a dog. 1960 perhaps!

 

While the distance to rail-station and shops were all important as well as owning own block with having a temporary dwelling (garage) for living in, the social aspects of a particular area were totally unknown. I don’t think this was at all considered. It was all to do with practical objectives and affordability. Comparisons with other Dutch migrants generally were about price, distance from infrastructure and size of the own block. Driving around it all looked rather the same with well kempt lawns and nodding petunias being prominent. Liking or disliking a certain area because of a ‘milieu’  or making a choice between any social and cultural  differences, if any, did not feature between migrated people that were lucky enough to have at least made it to getting a place to move into, no matter how humble or culturally isolated it might be.

Within a few weeks after moving in our own garage, a lean- to was built between our garage and next door fence which increased the liveable space with an extra 50%. A huge difference.  The corrugated asbestos sheeting  had not been pushed under the existing roof sheeting far enough. Each time it rained heavily the water would bank up and run back and into the lean to and above the bunks. Herman and I slept on the lower beds but John and Frank were not so lucky.

Rain (etching)

Rain (etching)

 

Dad who wasn’t very handy, had pinned  plastic sheeting above the bunks and underneath the corrugated roof sheeting against the wooden rafters. He was hoping the water would just run down the inside of the plastic sheeting and somehow flow outside again between the gap of the fibro wall sheets and the top timber plate. However, the slope of the roof and plastic sheeting wasn’t acute or steep enough and water would well up in  frighteningly large bubbles, inches above the peacefully sleeping bodies. In winter with the outside just four millimetres away, it wasn’t very nice when this bubble would spill and flood the unsuspected  sleepers. Of course during day-time rain, mum would relieve the water bubble by pushing it upwards and out. In time we all took  responsibility by waking in turns to relieve this water flood emergency above the two bunks. During heavy rain I could not be bothered and just sat in a chair all night, watch the water bubbles swell up and then relieve the threat giving the others a reasonable sleep. It was a good time for melancholia to thrive  and ponder reflections of past and possible futures..

Hand coloured etching.

Hand coloured etching.

If you look at the previous article photo where we are all in beds and on the floor you might have noticed a curtain. This curtain would be drawn with all the floor mattresses tucked in between the beds at the back of the garage and out of sight. This would then create a small lounge/dining / kitchen area. At night four boys slept in the lean-to which also kept the trunks with our clothing. At the other end of the garage opposite my parents bedding (and Dora and Adrian’s) there was a small electric stove with one hot-plate and underneath a minuscule oven. My mother cooked the most amazing meals on this miniature electric stove/ oven. We were hungry. Above this little stove was the electric hot water for the trickle shower. Next to the sink was the shower cubicle. My father (who wasn’t very handy) had jammed a round stick between the rickety shower walls to hold up a plastic shower sheet strung from plastic rings. It wasn’t unusual for someone to take a shower while mum was working above the stove creating a magic meal, for the shower curtain to collapse spontaneously.  This would be met with howls of laughter from all of us but not  the hapless victim standing in the nude just a metre or so away from our steaming meal.

In the evenings, the boys had to do home-work but as a reward would listen to a radio play, ‘ The adventures of Smokey Dawson’. They were the events of the week over the whole of Australia syndicated over more than a hundred radio stations.  Isn’t it amazing how we were spellbound by  voices telling a story over the radio?

Table setting. Hand coloured etching.

Table setting. Hand coloured etching.

We met the neighbours within a few weeks. Again it was our mother who made the move. She was fearless and despite speaking mainly in Dutch she would knock on the door. It has to remembered that houses in Australia are rather private. Dad wondered why the houses had windows! The whole street’s housing was uniformly barred from the inside and outside by sternly refusing anyone to get an inkling of what might be going on inside. Not a movement would ever escape to the outside. At night one could sometimes detect a sliver of faint light escaping through obstinate Venetian blinds, double backed up by layers of white lacy material and for extra security and more darkness, heavy curtains. It wasn’t easy to break through but our mum wasn’t to be deterred. She made friends. Years later after my parents moved back for good to Holland and on a trip back to Australia and their former home, the neighbours organised a surprise party for them. They remembered her efforts in bringing not only the neighbours together but also together in the sense that some would live with open  curtains and have  proper sit-downs with cups of tea.

She made a difference.