Monday, 31 March 2008

Christina Stead died 31 March 1983

Detail from a tiled mural at Hurstville Civic Centre, depicting many local identities.

Christina Stead (b 1902), who became a noted author. Her works included The Seven Poor Men of Sydney, Letty Fox Her Luck, The Man Who Loved Children. Stead lived most of her life outside of Australia, and was probably most known in the USA.

I knew about Stead from a fairly young age because her childhood house is near where I live, and the teacher-librarian at my school introduced her literature.

Fascinating piece about Christina Stead

Further information from Wikipedia:

Stead was born in suburban Rockdale in 1902, and left for London , to follow a man with whom she had fallen in love, in 1928. The man rejected her, but eventually met an American, Wilhelm Blech who became her lifelong partner. They married in 1952, after he got a divorce. He was a Marxist bank trader (!) and Christina shared his views. They moved to Paris where he worked in the Travelers Bank, then when that closed, to Spain.

At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (when socialists from all over Europe were flocking to Spain), they left for the United States. Blech changed his name to Blake.

In the early 1940s Stead worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, contributing to Madame Curie, and They Were Expendable. Stead also taught at a course on the novel at New York University. Before the U.S. House of Representatives started its crusade against Communists, Stead and Blake returned to Europe. To earn their living they had to do a lot of hack work, editing, and writing articles.

"You always said domestic women were treated as cattle, they should be free. They used to be sold like slaves in England till the middle of the nineteenth century, isn't that so? Well, I'm striking a blow for freedom. The so-called moral system is just imposed on women by men, isn't it? Well, I'm asserting my rights and my freedom." (from Miss Herbert)

Blake died of a stomach cancer in 1968. Stead remained unpublished in Australia until 1965, but gradually started to gain recognition. However, she was rejected in 1967 for the Britannica-Australia award on the grounds that she had ceased to be Australian. In 1969 she was a fellow in creative arts at Australian National University, Canberra. She settled permanently in Australia 1974 and received the Patrick White award in the same year.

Stead died in Sydney on March 31, 1983. Her last novel, I'm Dying Laughing (1986), published posthumously, gave an account of communists in Hollywood in the 1940s. It was pieced together by R.G. Geering, who also wrote her biography.

As a novelist Stead made her debut with Seven Poor Men of Sydney (1934), set in Sydney's waterfront, and depicting of a band of young revolutionaries, misfits as herself. House of All Nations (1938) was a massive and loosely constructed story about the collapse of a Swiss banking house, contrasting the corrupt capitalists with an ideal socialist hero. Miss Herbert (1976) was not published until some twenty years after it was written. Cotter's England (1966) was a savagely comic novel about politics, poverty, and sexual life. The protagonist is Nellie Cook, née Cotter, a Socialist, journalist, manipulator. Her brother Tom, to whom she remains locked in adolescent intimacy, has his own role as a Don Juan, who breaks hearts like the German's bombed London during World War II.

The title of The Man Who Loved Children was ironic: its portrait of the egoistic and tyrannical Sam Pollit reflected partly Stead's own love-hate relationship with her own father. Stead set the bitter story on the east coast of the United States. In the depiction of a disintegrating family and its consequences for the children and all involved, Stead used several juxtapositions: the clashing ideologies of North and South, the chasm between husband and wife, personal freedom versus traditions. Stead sees the family as a symbol for the world, ruled by power politics. As in her other novels, Stead also dealt with the theme of a woman facing the conflict between her own artistic freedom and family ties. In the story the young Louie plans a cycle of poems for her teacher and at the end decides to go for "a walk round the world."

The Man Who Loved Children was poorly received when it was published, and went unrecognized for 25 years. It was reissued in 1965 with an influential preface by the American poet Randall Jarrell, finally attracting much attention. Jarrell wrote: "It has one quality that, ordinarily, only a great book has: it makes you part of one family's immediate existence as no other book quite does. One reads the book, with an almost ecstatic pulse of recognition. You get used to saying: 'Yes, that's the way it is!'; and you say many times, but can never get used to saying, I didn't know anybody knew that."

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Well done Mosman Bushcare

Members of Mosman Bushcare have a well-deserved cup of tea in a shady spot, after spending Sunday morning weeding bushland.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Wall tile mural, East Sydney

The St Vincent de Paul Society's building in Yurong St Darlinghurst has walls decorated with these beautiful painted tiles. These are on the outside of the building and are totally graffiti-free.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Something old, something new

Above, the new Arncliffe Fire Station, opened in 1996, and below, the old Arncliffe Fire Station, opened in 1909, now converted to use as a pre-school. The new one incorporates many sound environmental features, such as solar energy use. I really like it - very innovative. It is located on an extremely busy t- intersection very near Sydney Airport, and always entrances me as I turn past, which is most weekday mornings at about 5:45 am, on my way to the gym for a swim. The old station is Feederation style, based on English Arts and Crafts architecture. There is open space for the children out of shot.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

No, this tricycle isn't on the pavement, and I haven't tilted the camera; it's actually suspended on the wall of a factory called AFCO All Metal Work. It's the same building outside which yesterday's chair was positioned. So, imagine looking up at it - do you feel a little dizzy?

Monday, 24 March 2008

Have a seat!

This chair sits outside a furniture factory/direct sale outlet on the Princes Highway at Arncliffe. But there was certainly nowhere for your intrepid blogger to sit!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Walking the Dog

Victoria St, Potts Point
The London plane tree is a widely used street planting in Sydney, due to its robust structure and resistance to urban conditions. Being deciduous it allows for winter sun and summer shade. Plane trees also have a noted tolerance to pollution and their broad leaves take many airborne particulate pollutants out of city air. They are criticised in some quarters for their high pollen levels and possible allergenic qualities in September.

I love them

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Car sculpture

Look what happened to this Mercedes, parked too long in Cook St, Turrella! Aliens tried to build a space craft out of it.
Update: This site tells me the sculpture is by Dylan, and was exhibited in last year's Sculpture By The Sea.

Friday, 21 March 2008


The Harbour Bridge reflected in a balcony door, Victoria St, Potts Point

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Balcony view

From the balcony of a friend's house in Victoria St, Potts Point.

Looking across the landscaped roof of the Defence Forces parking, the finger wharf Woolloomooloo (shown yesterday), Opera House and Bridge.

We sat on his balcony, drank gin and tonic, and watched sunset over the bridge.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Finger wharf, Woolloomooloo

It was a hot sunny day. The young woman was using an umbrella to provide shade, but it looked like it had seen better days! (It wasn't windy)

Russell Crowe and family live in a multi-million dollar apartment in this converted wharf.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Sun Worship

Cook & Phillip Park pool, Sydney

Obviously looking forward to the joy of join-the-dot skin cancers.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Last swim for this summer?

I can't describe how beautiful today is - a tiny breeze, air temperature about 26 (no Adelaide like heatwave), not too humid, fresh-smelling, sea temperature about 22-24. Just a little "bracing" as you slowly immerse yourself, but as we say in our house BOYGI - "boy-gee" - Beautiful Once You get In.

This morning my son and I headed down to Oak Park at Cronulla for a swim. That's him with his towel around his neck - he's just washed off his thongs. That's a beginner's scuba diving class in the middle ground just outside the rock pool, and Bundeena and the Royal National Park across Port Hacking in the background.

Temperatures are predicted to fall for Easter, though sea swimming is usually pretty good in Sydney up until mid-April.

For more pictures of Oak Park, taken in January, click here.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Friday, 14 March 2008

The Art Gallery of NSW - outside

The equestrian sculpture, above is The Offerings of Peace, by Gilbery Bayes. Cast in London in 1923, and put in place in 1926. The inscription beneath reads 'The real and lasting victories / are those of peace and not of war.' Peace offers the Arts and Plenty. These are represented by Greek comic and tragic masks, a lyre and some fruits.

"The façade and old wing of the Gallery were built between 1896 and 1909. Architecturally, Sydney's Art Gallery reflects nineteenth century ideas about the cultural role of a gallery as a temple to art and civilizing values."

The inscription beneath The Offerings of War reads 'That our house may stand forever / and that justice and mercy grow.' War holds a staff topped by a figure of Winged Victory. He also holds a bundle of swords and broken spear shafts.

To find out about the bronze reliefs in the facade, and why there are only 4 of them, click here.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Art Express

The reason i called in to the Art Gallery of NSW the other day was for a look at the Art Express exhibition. This is a selection of some of the major art works submitted by NSW Higher School Certificate (the final school credential) students the year before. There's some amazingly talented young people in our community. I didn't pay $8 to look at the Archibalds - the images available on the web (link in yesterday's post) didn't inspire.

At the time the Archibald winner was announced I quietly thought it was a bit like an HSC major work, but I've revised that view. Some of the HSC major works are much better in my humble opinion. I enjoyed some of the video/anime, ceramics, photography and other media.

The young boys above were entranced by some of the video installations.

Below: Can You See Us by Courtney Maron Sexton from Lucas Heights Community School, and museum attendant

Check out some of the other works by great young Australians: Art Express

I also loved Treason of Words by Matilda Moylan-Blaikie; she represents visually how words and space appear to her as a person with a form of dyslexia/perception dysfunction. Beautiful. The web image doesn't convey it fully of course (maybe an argument against my Archibald statement above!) As well, I particularly liked Joe Toutai Alone's work , Harriet Ester Gordon-Anderson's Mother about her mother with chronic fatigue syndrome, Sothearoth Loeu's Untold Stories of tortured faces, Constantin Rongas's George's Cafe, Courtney Maron Sexton's Can You See Us, Emily Diana Sijibat's Untitled (the full work is so much more astounding than here).

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Behind The Archibald

Every year the Art Gallery of NSW has 3 art competitions – the Archibald Prize for portraiture, the Wynne Prize for landscape painting and the Sulman Prize for best subject painting, genre painting or mural project by an Australian artist.

This store room was open as paintings were being moved from here to elsewhere. As the exhibitions were underway, I assume these were unsuccessful entrants.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Mind The Gap!

I like the way the station and platform were reflected in the glass covering the poster.

Sunday, 9 March 2008


Many people enjoy a spot of gardening on a sunny autumn day. This fellow was digging at Sopranos restaurant in Elizabeth St, Surry Hills.

Meanwhile, we've had a beautifully warm, sunny Sunday. When the shadows came over my garden, we all went out and pulled up weeds and did a bit of a tidy-up. Even the cat "helped"by pouncing on hands every so often.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Mmmmm, Jaffas!

One of my favourites .... chocolate centres and a hard orange coloured and flavoured shell.

The name comes from from the colour of oranges from Jaffa in Israel. Jaffas are part of Australian and New Zealand cultural folklore. Jaffas have often been sold in movie theatres and have gained iconic status because of the noise made when they are dropped (accidentally or deliberately) and rolled down sloping wooden floors. They came of age at the same time as the movies, being launched in the Australian market in 1931.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

"Illegal" photo

Oh, how we suffer for our art! These chairs caused me to be tapped on the shoulder by security and told to put my camera away.

They are a very ordinary setting in the lobby of an office building in the city (The Gateway at Circular Quay). I thought they looked pretty snazzy and lined up a shot. Just as I was about to press the button some beefy bloke in a security uniform informed me that is is "forbidden" to take photos in the foyer of a building thousands of people pass through every day. "Why?". Silence. I don't think they were protecting the design from copyright, just more mad overkill in "these security conscious times".

I heard a bloke on radio yesterday sayign some goon had stopped him taking photos from the walkway of the Harbour Bridge - a perfectly legal activity, undertaken by thousands of tourists every day!

I pressed the button, said "See the bomb didn't go off" and went on my way.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Bad feng shui, Chinatown

This wall upsets my sensibilities. Although there is symmetry, the proportions seem so disharmonious. I don't get a sense of good feng shui from it at all. '

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Paramount Pictures

Now an upmarket restaurant, this art deco building from 1940 was the Sydney offices of Paramount. It wasn't a studio, but did have a screening room, and apparently luminaries like Bob Hope and Charlton Heston attended functions. I've been to the restaurant, Lo Studio (The Studio), and it's very good. Inside there's lovely woodwork and other deco features.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Green Boy, Newtown

Can you spot him amidst this outdoor gallery on the corner of Lennox and Mary Sts, Newtown? Newtown has a lot of street art and stencil graffiti - and even an entry in Wikipedia all about it. I've shown quite a few of these on my blog before, and a few yet to come. In Enmore Road, just nearby, there's even a rumour that the world's most famous graffiti artist, Banksy, left his mark. See here.

Today is Theme Day amongst City Daily Photo Bloggers. Have alook at graffiti and street murals in the following cities, being mindful of different time zones:
Adelaide, Australia by Gordon, Albuquerque (NM), USA by Helen, Aliso Viejo (CA), USA by Rodney, American Fork (UT), USA by Annie, Anderson (SC), USA by Lessie, Arradon, France by Alice, Ashton under Lyne, UK by Pennine, Athens, Greece by Debbie, Auckland, New Zealand by Lachezar, Austin (TX), USA by LB, Bandung, Indonesia by Guntur Purwanto, Baziège, France by PaB, Belgrade, Serbia by BgdPic, Bellefonte (PA), USA by Barb-n-PA, Bicheno, Australia by Greg, Boston (MA), USA by Fenix, Boston (MA), USA by Cluelessinboston, Boston (MA), USA by Sarah, Whit, & Leyre, Brighton, UK by Harvey, Bucaramanga, Colombia by Fernando, Budapest, Hungary by Zannnie and Zsolt, Budapest, Hungary by Isadora, Buenos Aires, Argentina by Karine, Canterbury, UK by Rose, Cape Town, South Africa by Kerry-Anne, Chandler (AZ), USA by Melindaduff, Chateaubriant, France by Bergson, Cheltenham, UK by Marley, Chicago (IL), USA by U R us, Chicago (IL), USA by b.c., Christchurch, New Zealand by Michelle, Clearwater (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Clearwater Beach (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Cleveland (OH), USA by iBlowfish, Cologne, Germany by April11, Coral Gables (FL), USA by Jnstropic, Detroit (MI), USA by Taittems, Dunedin (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Durban, South Africa by CrazyCow, Evry, France by Olivier, Forks (WA), USA by Corinne, Glasgow, Scotland by Jackie, Greenville (SC), USA by Denton, Grenoble, France by Bleeding Orange, Guelph, Canada by Pat, Helsinki, Finland by Kaa, Hobart, Australia by Greg, Hyde, UK by Gerald, Inverness (IL), USA by Neva, Jackson (MS), USA by Halcyon, Jefferson City (MO), USA by Chinamom2005, Joplin (MO), USA by Victoria, Juneau (AK), USA by Gwyn, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Edwin, Kyoto, Japan by Tadamine, Larchmont (NY), USA by Marie-Noyale, Le Guilvinec, France by ds2944, Lisbon, Portugal by Sailor Girl, Lisbon, Portugal by Jsaltao, Lodz, Poland by ritalounge, London, UK by Ham, London, UK by Mo, Mainz, Germany by JB, Maple Ridge, Canada by Susan, Mazatlan, Mexico by Kate, Melbourne, Australia by Mblamo, Melbourne, Australia by John, Memphis (TN), USA by SouthernHeart, Menton, France by Jilly, Mexico, Mexico by Poly, Mexico City, Mexico by Carraol, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Mitch, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Greg, Monte Carlo, Monaco by Jilly, Montréal, Canada by Douber, Moscow, Russia by Irina, Mumbai, India by Kunalbhatia, Mumbai, India by MumbaiIteanu, Naples (FL), USA by Isabella, Nashville (TN), USA by Chris, Nelson, New Zealand by Meg and Ben, New Orleans (LA), USA by steve buser, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK by Cassie & Chris, Niamey, Niger by Dinabee, Norwich, UK by Goddess888, Nottingham, UK by Gail's Man, Ocean Township (NJ), USA by Josy, Paris, France by Eric, Pasadena (CA), USA by Petrea, Pasadena (CA), USA by Can8ianben, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia by Murphy_jay, Pilisvörösvár, Hungary by Elise, Port Angeles (WA), USA by Jelvistar, Port Elizabeth, South Africa by Sam, Port Vila, Vanuatu by Mblamo, Prague, Czech Republic by Honza03, Quincy (MA), USA by Cluelessinboston, Radonvilliers, France by Deslilas, Riga, Latvia by Prokur, Rome, Italy by Giovanni, Rotterdam, Netherlands by Ineke, Saarbrücken, Germany by LadyDemeter, Saint Louis (MO), USA by Strangetastes, Saint Paul (MN), USA by Kate, Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation by Lark, San Antonio (TX), USA by Kramer, San Diego (CA), USA by Felicia, San Diego (CA), USA by Zentmrs, Santa Fe (NM), USA by Randem, Seattle (WA), USA by Chuck, Seattle (WA), USA by Kim, Seguin (TX), USA by Thien, Selma (AL), USA by RamblingRound, Sesimbra, Portugal by Aldeia, Setúbal, Portugal by Maria Elisa, Sharon (CT), USA by Jenny, Silver Spring (MD), USA by John, Singapore, Singapore by Keropok, Sofia, Bulgaria by Antonia, St Francis, South Africa by Sam, Stavanger, Norway by Tanty, Stayton (OR), USA by Celine, Stockholm, Sweden by Stromsjo, Subang Jaya, Malaysia by JC, Sydney, Australia by Sally, Székesfehérvár, Hungary by Teomo, Terre Haute (IN), USA by Zann, Terrell (TX), USA by Bstexas, Terrell (TX), USA by Jim K, The Hague, Netherlands by Lezard, Tokyo, Japan by Tadamine, Torun, Poland by Glenn, Torun, Poland by Torun Observer, Toulouse, France by Julia, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Jazzy, Twin Cities (MN), USA by Slinger, Vienna, Austria by G_mirage2, Wailea (HI), USA by Kuanyin, Wassenaar, Netherlands by Rich, Wellington, New Zealand by Jeremyb, West Paris (ME), USA by crittoria, West Sacramento (CA), USA by Barbara, Weston (FL), USA by WestonDailyPhoto, Wrocław, Poland by Loompi, Yardley (PA), USA by Mrlynn,