David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

03 March 2016

On the Beach : Australian tide disciplined


Stanley Kramer's 1959 film "On The Beach" was based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Neville Shute. It starred Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins and was filmed at Melbourne, nearby Frankston, and Cowes at Phillip Island.
After World War III, Australia is the only remaining haven for mankind. However, wind currents carrying lingering radiation all but condemn those on the continent to the same fate suffered by the rest of the world. When the survivors receive a strange signal from San Diego, Cmdr. Dwight Towers (Gregory Peck) must undertake a mission with Lt. Peter Holmes (Anthony Perkins) to see if there is hope for humanity - leaving behind Moira (Ava Gardner) and Mary (Donna Anderson), the women they love.


          A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/

          someone looks at something...
          LOGOS/HA HA

 Left to right: Joy Hester, Sidney Nolan, John and Sunday Reed 
 at Point Lonsdale, Victoria, 1945. Nolan is holding Sweeney, the 
 child of Hester and Albert Tucker, later adopted by the Reeds. 
 Photo: Albert Tucker. Source: State Library of Victoria, 
 Pictures collection, H2008.98_126

          A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/

          someone looks at something...
          LOGOS/HA HA

It has often been claimed that Ava Gardner described Melbourne as "the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world." However, the purported quote was actually invented by journalist Neil Jillett, who was writing for the Sydney Morning Herald at the time. His original draft of a tongue-in-cheek piece about the making of the film said that he had not been able to confirm a third-party report that Ava Gardner had made this remark. The newspaper's sub-editor changed it to read as a direct quotation from Gardner. It was published in that form and entered Melbourne folklore very quickly. (Wikipedia)
The English-born writer Nevil Shute emigrated to Melbourne in 1950. In the decade or so before he arrived, before he wrote "On the Beach" (1957) and before Hollywood came to Melbourne to film that post-apocalypse story, some of the local artists had already rehearsed the Melbourne beach scene as a setting of anxiety and ill portent.

(Above) "At Sorrento, Sidney Nolan buried,  John Reed, Sunday Reed, and Joy Hester, pregnant 1944". Photo by Albert Tucker
 Sidney Nolan, Bathers, 1942 collection NGV

Sidney Nolan's St. Kilda beach Bathers of 1942 (above) presents as mostly bright, matey and untroubled. (The isolated figure lower-right may presage the arrival of the outlaw Kelly.) Nolan paints this scene again several times in 1943. At first continuing this mostly free theme...

 Sidney Nolan, Bathers, 1943 collection NGA
...but then muddying the paint, lowering the sky and introducing a mood of foreboding.

 Sidney Nolan, Bathers, 1943 collection NGV

Fellow artists Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker and Charles Blackman made similar bleak representations prior to "On the Beach".

 Arthur Boyd, The Beach, 1944 collection NGA

 Albert Tucker, Sunbathers, 1944 collection NGA

 Charles Blackman, Man Floating c.1954

 Charles Blackman Sunbather c.1954

So, why this "On the Beach" theme today? We were looking at some Edo period hanging scrolls on a Japanese website and wondered who had painted and written this particular haiga or Zenga Sunbather.

We clicked on Google Translate and the artist's name came as quite a surprise : a contemporary of Sengai (1750-1837), with whom he had contact, a Tendai Buddhist monk known as "Australian tide disciplined" (1749-1835). Another Oz/Zen link!

 Charles Blackman Sunbather c.1954
 Australian tide disciplined (1749-1835) Sunbather 

In Melbourne, post-Cézanne, the sun bodies bath. In Sydney, more hardcore, they bake :

Max Dupain Sunbaker  c.1937 / 1948 / 1970s

Although Dupain took some photographs of his friend as the sunbaker in the 1930s, this image did not appear until his monograph was published in 1948. The image he chose was slightly different, a little less monumental due to the positioning of the arms, and with less sand and more sky. The negative was lost and in the 1970s the other version was printed for the first time and, through exhibition and reproduction, became the icon that it is today. (Extract from AGNSW website text)

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...