APRIL: APRIL FOOLS’ DAY?
On April 1st, Australians were treated to a preview of Times Magazine’s portrait
of Prime Minister, Robert Gordon Menzies. This particular day was very popular in those years for the playing of practical
jokes on all and sundry. When the portrait appeared on this morning, many people thought that here again they were being the
victims of some giant set-up.
It wasn’t the painter. He was not under suspicion. He was the
renowned William Dobell. Nor was it was the great and lofty Bob Menzies. Rather, it was the whole concept of art itself. Surely, many argued, a painting of a person should look like the person. It should
not look like some caricature, or some cartoon sketch. Really, it must look
just like the man himself, warts and all, precisely. Equally, others said that portraits should present faithful images of
the sitter. Otherwise, just fantasise.
So, April got
off to a good start. Here was a topic where everyone had an opinion, and everyone could suddenly become an expert on the theory
Letters, Weaver Hawkins, North
Sydney. People do not seem to see the obvious: that the strongest influence on William Dobell, our great
portrait painter, is and always has been Rembrandt, that genius of the long past before man had been enabled to allow his
human vision to be perverted by the camera.
Mr Dobell has
to an extraordinary degree been able as an artist to retain that power of depicting forcefully his true impression of the
sitter in addition to making a fine picture of a portrait.
Letters, Caroline Gillespie, Cammeray. Dobell’s
portrait is shocking. It looks much more like Alfred Hitchcock than Menzies, and a critically ill Mr Hitchcock at that!
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YOU WILL NOT BE EXAMINED ON ANY OF THIS
ABOUT THIS SERIES … But after that, I realized that I really
knew very little about these parents of mine They had been born about the
start of the Twentieth Century, and they died in 1970 and 1980. For their last 50 years, I was old enough to speak with a bit of sense. I could have talked to them a lot about their lives. I could
have found out about the times they lived in. But
I did not. I know almost nothing about them
really. Their courtship? Working
in the pits? The Lock-out in the Depression?
Losing their second child? Being
dusted as a miner? The shootings
at Rothbury? My uncles killed in the War? Love
on the dole? There were hundreds, thousands of questions that I would now like to ask them. But, alas, I can’t. It’s too late.
prompted by my guilt, I resolved to write these books. They describe happenings that affected
people, real people. The whole series is, to coin a modern phrase, designed to push the reader’s buttons, to make you remember and wonder
at things forgotten. The books might
just let nostalgia see the light of day, so that
oldies and youngies will talk about the past and re-discover a
heritage otherwise forgotten.
they will spark discussions between generations,
and foster the asking and answering of
questions that should not remain unanswered.
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