Young Writers in the City: From Where I Stood #6: Sydney Griffiths and Captain Stalker, by Jane Beeke

Since January 2017 we’ve been featuring the creative essays and stories written by young writers who completed residencies in Devonport as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre‘s  Young Writers in the City program, December 2016 – January 2017.

Writer: Jane Beeke
Residency: Bass Strait Maritime Centre

Jane Beeke spent her residency at the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, writing a continuous story inspired by the history she researched. This is the final entry in the six part series.

Read entry #1. Harry Wood
Read entry #2. Mary Ann Sayers
Read entry #3. William Holyman
Read entry #4. William Chapman
Read entry #5. John Griffiths

From Where I Stood

6. Sydney Griffiths and Captain Stalker

Sydney…

The Griffiths’ shipyard was full of steam and sweat. Sydney stood between the slips, watching over his men as they sawed and steamed and hammered. Two ships were rising, growing like trees from the shore, nearly ready for the final push into the water.
Sydney was good at building ships. He was good at building fast ships, ships that could cut a few hours or a day off the trip to Melbourne. Good and workmanlike ships. It was a damn shame that the J.L. Griffiths had gone down. She had been the fastest. She had been the best.
Sydney smiled wryly and privately. Only his father would have the luck to name a ship after himself and then lose the damn thing.

Sydney was interrupted by the ringing of a bicycle bell. The telegram delivery boy darted through the yard, running between the towers of wood and the jets of steam. A red envelope was in his hand.

“Is this it?” asked Sydney.

“It’s from Melbourne, sir.”

“The Captain should see this first.”

Sydney started and looked about. Where was the old boy?

“Harry! Harry Wood!”
The best apprentice looked up from his work with the calking iron. His face was red and his hands were blistered.
“Harry! Have you seen Captain Griffiths?”
“He went for a walk along the shore, sir!”
Sydney swore. He rushed from the yard.
Along the street he almost ran, the town on one side, the endless parade of shipyards on the other.  Sydney sweated as he clambered onto the beach, the wind whipping up stinging blasts of sand.
The old man was there, leaning into the unrelenting wind, a telescope against his eye.
“Captain!”
The old man pretended not to hear. Sydney slowed, as though he was approaching a strange and dangerous dog.
“Captain, I have it.”

Sydney’s father looked at the envelope, and his face fell. He raised the telescope again and continued to gaze, with wide and empty eyes, into the sea.

“I was thinking she might have been blown off course, lost a mast in a storm … If they jury-rigged another it could take three weeks to get back …” muttered the old man.

“Captain, I have the report …”

“…She might come in any day …”

“Will you open it?”

“I had a lot of faith in Captain Brown, you know. He’s a good mariner …”

Sydney let out a long, angry sigh. A dozen men – live men – were waiting on his instructions at the yard.

“Will you open it, Captain?”

The old man looked at Sydney, and the son could feel his father’s silent and empty despair.

Sydney tore open the envelope.

Captain Stalker…

 

BY TELEGRAM FROM LAUNCESTON

MELBOURNE, OCTOBER 11

The report of the search made by the steamer Pharos for the missing vessel J.L.Griffiths is as follows: – The Pharos left for King’s Island on Wednesday morning and reached Cape Wickham at 3pm same day. Lieutenant J. A. Stalker immediately communicated with the superintendent of the lighthouse, who reported that he had seen nothing whatever of the vessel, nor yet any portions  of wreckage afloat or on the beach. The Pharos then made a circuit of the island, and the whole of the coast line and adjacent islands were carefully scanned. Lieutenant Stalker also communicated with the lighthouse superintendent at Currie Harbour, but there was no information to be gleaned. As none of the lighthouse people at either station had seen anything of the missing vessel, or any fragment of wreck, and as Lieutenant Stalker could not discover any himself, he returned, leaving the island on Friday, and reaching the Bay on Saturday morning. The fate of the J.L. Griffiths is thus still an uncertainty.

Young Writers in the City: From Where I Stood #5: John Griffiths, by Jane Beeke

Since January 2017 we’ve been featuring the creative essays and stories written by young writers who completed residencies in Devonport as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre‘s  Young Writers in the City program, December 2016 – January 2017.

Writer: Jane Beeke
Residency: Bass Strait Maritime Centre

Jane Beeke spent her residency at the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, writing a continuous story inspired by the history she researched. This is the fifth entry in this six-part story.

Read entry #1. Harry Wood
Read entry #2. Mary Ann Sayers
Read entry #3. William Holyman
Read entry #4. William Chapman

From Where I Stood

5. John Griffiths

The old man stood, wavering, on the sand. All he held was his old, brass telescope. All he could do was search from the shore, scanning each ship as they came in, counting masts, sizing them up.

But she never came.

For three weeks John had stood on the shore. The beating of the waves, the rise and fall of the tides, gave him his own time, and sometimes the years disappeared into the grey ocean.

What was he even looking for? Was it the J.L. Griffiths? The Resolution … Socrates? His own poor son , who John had watched drown, dumb and useless on the shore? Where had they gone, these men and these ships and these years? As a young man, John had always been able to press on with each mounting tragedy – build another ship, move to another city, start another business, start another family.

But now, as an old man, he was left alone with the dead men.

John clutched his cold telescope and he was cold, too. The sea was growing dark in the afternoon, and it felt he spent now as much time looking below the water as above it; water and sky and sand pouring into one great, empty blur.

Where have you gone?

John looked along the beach and saw his son, hurrying through the biting, wind-whipped sand, a red-enveloped telegram in his hand.

International Museums Day at DRG – 18 May 2017

This year Devonport Regional Gallery marked International Museums Day by inviting members of the Gallery’s Friends Committee, Special Interest Group, and the Droogs young members, to trawl through the DCC Permanent Collection. Each selected a work that spoke to them, and then presented their thoughts, findings and insights about the works at our International Museums Day event.

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Viv Breheney presenting Patsy Adam Smith, by Edith Holmes

Several participants were drawn to portraits, with Special Interest Group member Viv Breheney selecting a painting of Patsy Adam Smith by Edith Holmes, as she also knew both women personally, and had colourful anecdotes to share. Barbie Kjar’s work Falling Cups was selected by Friends Committee President Karen Mathew. This work was highlighted on our blog recently, so Karen’s selection presented a great opportunity to bring the work out in the flesh for discussion.

Friends Committee Member Robert Apse selected a raku bowl by Harold Ramsden, who he has known personally. As Ramsden taught ceramics at Devonport TAFE in the 1980s, several audience members were familiar with his work, and following Robert’s discussion of the raku bowl other members of the audience with an interest and expertise in ceramics, shared their own knowledge about Ramsden and his work.

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Robert Apse presenting Harold Ramsden’s Raku bowl

Another Droog, Eleanor McCormack trawled through some of the collection’s works on paper, before being drawn to a print by Jim Logan titled Lamina Mneumonic. Eleanor delved into the meaning behind the work, discussing ideas of the physical body vs. the mental, and the problematic nature of our bodies being the way people see us, rather than considering our ideas.

Two photographs from the Robinson Collection were selected for quite different, but both personal reasons. One was selected by Brian Sollors, who devotes his time every week to scanning negatives from the Robinson Collection. Brian presented both the original negative, which shows the façade of the Robinson & Son Photographic Studio in Devonport, alongside a print of the image, which he had recently scanned and worked on for our upcoming exhibition Past & Present Tense: 20 years of the Robinson Collection, opening in July.

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Ellie Ray with a Robinson Collection negative, for Brian Sollors’ presentation

Another Robinson Collection print was selected by one of the gallery casual staff members and Droog, Sarah Beckett. Sarah was immediately taken by the image, which shows two young girls in a manicured backyard, as it sparked early memories from the house she grew up in in New South Wales, long after this photograph was taken in Tasmania. Sarah shared some of her formative memories from this house, as well as reflecting on how she could relate so strongly to an image of a house she had never set foot in. The audience members were able again to shed more light on the work, identifying the location where this house still stands in Devonport.

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Sarah Beckett presenting a Robinson Collection print

This year’s International Museums Day event provided a unique opportunity for those who dedicate their time and energy to supporting the gallery, to get a behind the scenes look at the DCC Permanent Collection. The event also proved a valuable opportunity for members of the community to see works otherwise kept in storage, to hear the insights of other community members, and to share in the discussion of the works in the DCC Permanent Collection.

Young Writers in the City: From Where I Stood #4: William Chapman, by Jane Beeke

Since January 2017 we’ve been featuring the creative essays and stories written by young writers who completed residencies in Devonport as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre‘s  Young Writers in the City program, December 2016 – January 2017.

Writer: Jane Beeke
Residency: Bass Strait Maritime Centre

Jane Beeke spent her residency at the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, writing a continuous story inspired by the history she researched. This is the fourth entry in this six-part story.

Read entry #1. Harry Wood
Read entry #2. Mary Ann Sayers
Read entry #3. William Holyman

From Where I Stood

4. William Chapman

William waded into the sea.
The sky and the sea were one rip of darkness, and from his residence in the town of Formby he had no chance of sighting ships as they came into the port. Instead William splashed and clambered to the middle of the river, stood ankle-deep on the sandbar, and lifted his telescope to watch the horizon.

His own boat was anchored close by, ready to sail to any ship that signalled a need for his help. William knew this river better than any man alive.
William could feel the tide flowing around his ankles, and brown kelp tied itself around his legs, as though he were a rock or a buoy. He had worked this river for twenty-five years. He had seen towns appear, wharves and storehouses sprout along the water, and the shipbuilding yards in their slow creep along every patch of riverbank. He had seen it all.

And so William stood in the river, now as the harbourmaster and pilot, and was in control.
Already a dozen sails rose and fell in the Strait. Fishing ketches ran out and in. There was his brother-in-law’s smart ketch, Colleen Bawn, making her twice-weekly rush into the Strait. The big trading cutters lifted their sails into the cold wind – three masts, four – in their endless race to Melbourne and back. There were whaling boats and sealers, too, though not as many as in those early days.

William was cold to his core. He looked down into the brown water.
Where have you gone?
Where have you all gone?
Every year, a dozen men were pulled, grey and frozen, from the dark tide.
And every year, dozens more sank into the waves – like old ballast stones – far from William’s searching telescope, and far from the safety of his old hands at the wheel.

Young Writers in the City: From Where I Stood #3: William Holyman, by Jane Beeke

Since January 2017 we’ve been featuring the creative essays and stories written by young writers who completed residencies in Devonport as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre‘s  Young Writers in the City program, December 2016 – January 2017.

Writer: Jane Beeke
Residency: Bass Strait Maritime Centre

Jane Beeke spent her residency at the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, writing a continuous story inspired by the history she researched. This is the third entry in this six-part story.

Read entry #1. Harry Wood
Read entry #2. Mary Ann Sayers

From Where I Stood

3. William Holyman

William heaved on the rope, leaning as a weight against it, until the mainsail rose and caught the wind. At once William was on the other side of the deck, pulling the rope tight into a stanchion. For twenty or more years he had sailed the Strait, and he still had the energy for it.
There were four more crew on deck, and Young William took the wheel. The Colleen Bawn flew into the Strait, bound due North for Melbourne. Both mainsails were up, pushed taught in the ferocious wind.
“How does she feel, William?” roared the old man.
His son didn’t hear, but smiled at the helm.
Old William walked down the deck, ignoring the wash that covered the deck, ignoring the endless pitch and the roll as they headed the waves. William stood behind his son.
“So how does she feel?” he shouted again.
“She’s keeping well in this breeze, Dad.”
“Good. You’ll be running her from now on.”
“Good.”

They nodded at one another, and that was all that needed to be said.
The boat climbed a perilously high wave, her bow piercing up into the sky, a silhouette against grey cloud. They hung a moment; then the crash of water and the sting of salt spray overtook them all. Young William had already lashed himself to the helm; the other men all scrambled for a place to cling – to masts, to ropes, to hatches – as the sea rolled in and over the deck.
Father and son both laughed with the exhilaration of familiar danger.
“We’ll make good time to Melbourne in this.”
William held firm as the boat heaved under another wave. There would be no stillness, no calm sailing. For now, they were in a world of endless movement, of rise and fall without end.

National Youth Week 2017

This year Devonport Regional Gallery extended its National Youth Week programming after receiving funding from the Tasmanian Community Fund. This allowed the Gallery to offer a paid mentorship opportunity for a young person to develop event and project management skills.

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Reclaim in full swing. Photographer: Kelly Slater

The Sketchbook Project Exhibition, 31 March – 8 April

Across six weeks from the end of February, young people across the North West collected a handmade sketchbook to fill with their drawings, ideas and writing using pencil, ink, paint, charcoal, collage, pastel and more as part of the Devonport Sketchbook Project.

The Devonport Regional Gallery and their young members committee, The Droogs presented The Sketchbook Project Exhibition at Devonport LINC. A total of 88 sketchbooks featured in this public exhibition from 31 March – 8 April.

The Sketchbook Project celebrates and promotes young people and their talents in the North West, and provides a space for public viewing of their work.

Youth Rewind, 1 – 2 April

Free activities and workshops took place across the two days of Youth Rewind, including live music performances by young musicians and a community jam, meditation, yoga and dance workshops and sand art activities.

The focus of Youth Rewind was to promote positive wellbeing and for young people to socialise, exercise and learn coping mechanisms with their peers in a fun and relaxed setting.

Reclaim the Lane, 7 April

For its sixth consecutive year, Reclaim the Lane returned to Rooke Lane, Devonport, on Friday 7 April, 3.30–5.30 pm to an audience of approximately 700 people. The free event transformed Rooke Lane into a vibrant celebration of youth arts and music for all ages to enjoy.

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KT Hollywood with her work. Photographer: Kelly Slater

Burnie artist, KT Hollywood was this year’s resident artist and she created a new work in the lane. Reclaim the Lane also featured various art-making areas this year; a collaborative ‘Massive Mandala’ led by young, local artist Rachel Kumar, and a Zentangle class led by Launceston CZT, Michele Beauchamp. The popular event also featured the Red Turtle photo booth, a henna tattoo artist, face painting by the Droogs, performances by Mr Inferno and Jayden Mineur, and interactive stalls by youth service providers.

Outside Laneway Café there were also two musical workshops; a percussion workshop run by local musician Brad Von Rock, and a ukulele workshop, facilitated by young talent, Grace Maher. The space was popular with all ages.

A small Youth Market was established this year, focusing on giving young emerging makers and artisans a chance to sell their work.

Live music by young local performers entertained audiences throughout the event with performances by students at Geneva Christian College, Melinda Powell, Tia and Siobhan, Henry Rippon and Molly O’Brien.

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Photographer: Kelly Slater

For the second consecutive year, windows of local Rooke Lane businesses were also transformed by young people as they expressed their views and goals for the future, responding to ‘What I would like to change about myself”, ‘What I would like to change about Devonport’ and ‘What I would like to change about the world’.

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The Droogs at their stall at Reclaim the Lane. Photographer: Kelly Slater

Reclaim the Lane is organised by Devonport Regional Gallery and its young members, the Droogs, in partnership with Devonport City Council and Youth, Family and Community Connections. The event was jointly funded by the Department of Premier and Cabinet National Youth Week funding program, YFCC and Devonport City Council.

Highlights from the DCC Permanent Collection – Barbie Kjar

Kjar - Falling Cups
Barbie KJAR, Falling Cups 1993, pastel on drypoint

Tasmanian artist Barbie Kjar is widely known for her portraiture, her distinctive style and use of colour, and the whimsical quality that is characteristic of her figurative works.

Kjar was born in Burnie, Tasmania in 1957 and completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Tasmania, as well as a Master of Fine Art at RMIT, Melbourne. Prior to her visual arts studies, Kjar studied English and Education, and literature has been a persistent influence on her practice. The artist has cited a range of writers including Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson as influences, while the work Come to me, oh green glass buoy 1996, from the DCC Permanent Collection, is based on a poem of the same title by Tasmanian author Sue Moss. Furthermore, the sea and dance have also been discussed by Kjar as being personal influences reflected in her practice. The DCC Permanent Collection holds three of Kjar’s works, spanning a period from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. Though Kjar’s practice has broadened since this period, with sculpture now increasingly a focus of the artist, her work continues to be imbued with the distinct style for which she is known, and of which the DCC works are examples.

Kjar - Come to me...
Barbie KJAR, Come to me, oh green glass buoy 1996, pastel on paper

While Kjar’s work is visually distinct, her unique personal perspective on portraiture and its processes contributes to the distinctness of her work. Kjar views portraiture as a deeply personal process that evolves and develops over time, rather than entertaining the belief that a work can be planned in detail from the outset. She has referred to the process as a conversation, wherein it is essential that both the artist and the subject are open to a degree of exposure. This conversation takes time; time which Kjar is willing to devote in order for those sitting for her portraits to become comfortable, and in turn open to being truly observed.

This sensitivity allows Kjar to extract and convey the narratives revealed within her sitters, exploring the story of a person, rather than simply capturing their likeness. Rather than attempting to present a biographical narrative, Kjar pursues the essence of the person, derived both from conversation and an acute observation of their facial features and expressions. This process reflects Kjar’s assertion of the fundamental importance of the eyes and the gaze in portraiture.

The time Kjar spends with the subjects of her portraits extends further to her process. She begins drawing from life, using charcoal or watercolour, before determining her point of focus. Kjar has been drawing since school, and although working across a variety of mediums, she has expressed a particular affinity for printmaking. Having studied etching, lithography and screen printing at the University of Tasmania, Kjar discovered her likening to the feeling of peeling off the paper after running the plate through the press.

Known for her drypoints, having been referred to as one of the great masters of the medium by art critic Sasha Grishin, Kjar uses an electric engraver to achieve lines that appear hand drawn, and have been praised recurrently for their velvety quality. Works such as Falling Cups 1993 from the DCC Permanent Collection evidence this skill, while reflecting Kjar’s goal; ‘to draw people well, really well… and to seek symbols and layers which investigate the meaning of life’ (Barbie Kjar, ABC Radio interview with Barbara Pongratz, Artist’s facial fascination, 29th August 2003).

-Erin Wilson, Curator of Collections

You can view more of Barbie Kjar’s works on her website, or through Bett Gallery

View more works from the DCC Permanent Collection here