Category Archives: Tasmania

Piguenit at Lake St Clair

Since my walk from the mouth along the Derwent River culminated at the source, Lake St Clair, writing one of the final blog postings about my favourite Tasmanian artist Piguenit who painted Lake St Clair a number of times, seems appropriate.  Previously in the posting Piguenit- artist extraordinaire in southern Tasmania, I extolled some of his virtues.

The story goes – in one of my former lives, in my arts and museum career, I started in the profession working at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery – in three ways: I gave the occasional public lecture in the art gallery section, I volunteered and worked on the art collection in the bowels of the building, and I was employed as a cleaning and security attendant.  Because of my art knowledge and interest I was usually allocated the large gallery at the top of the building for the security detail, the one with the 19th century paintings and sculptures. In those days there was no cover on the roof windows, no insulation and no heating.  This is late 1970s and I recall being frozen for most of my winter shifts standing there.  But the win for me was that all the TMAG’s big Piguenit paintings were hung at one end of the gallery.  Until then I had never seen his work. I was bowled over by their majesty, their drama and with the artist’s skill.  Most especially, for the first time, I saw an artist painting serious pictures in oil but sometimes only using black and white paint and creating an image with greys (some were slightly yellow greys).  I marvelled at this and have adored his work ever since.  When I come across one of his pictures in any Gallery of Australia I simply stand in reverent silence. His work has that effect on me.

Recently I received a card for a milestone birthday from a couple of stalwart walkingthederwent supporters. The image on the cover was Lake St Clair, the Source of the River Derwent, Tasmania 1887.  Piguenit delighted in this lake and its glorious mountainous surrounds.  The image below, courtesy of Artnet, is very similar to that on my birthday card (regrettably I can find no online reproduction of ‘my’ image).

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The original oil on canvas, shown on my card, was presented to the Tasmanian Government  in 1889 and is now housed in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The differences between ‘mine’ and the Artnet versions include the fact that the latter is a smaller canvas and the foreground rocks and sand are shaped and painted differently. My earlier posting has another image of the same location – one which is held in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Clearly the birthday card was sent with my recent walkingthederwent project in mind but without knowing my decades long ‘connection’ with Piguenit’s work. That image of Lake St Clair with Mount Olympus spot-lit is a stunner.  Now I wonder if the impetus for my walk along the Derwent began in that freezing Gallery all those years ago.  How could I have known what my future held and where I would end up?

Fossil Cove posting 4 of 4

I relaxed with the sounds of the wash of the water onto the shore.

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After one last look around this deserted Cove and across the glorious Derwent Harbour, I turned toward the path and walked back uphill. Slowly.  Very slowly.  I swear the incline on that hill had steepened. I found each blade of grass and each leaf on the path infinitely interesting and worthy of stopping for closer inspection. Often.

For blog readers who live in Hobart, give yourself a treat, take a picnic with you and enjoy a visit to this wonderful Cove.

Fossil Cove posting 3 of 4

 

I delighted in the multitude of fossils everywhere around Fossil Cove.

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And seeing the blue shells of tiny new mussels clustering in rock crevices, and the deep purple shells of sea urchins cast up on the rocky beach, reminded me of the way water continues to bring life to our shores.

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Most particularly I loved the water views.  The Derwent River presented a stunning vista during my visit.

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14/2/17

Fossil Cove posting 2 of 4

I admired the rock formations around Fossil Cove and wished I had walked with a geological expert.

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The rock formation in the photos below could variously be described as a ‘hole in the wall’ or an arch.

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I just had to explore what was through that ‘hole in the wall’.

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Seeing these photos again reminds me that the day of my visit to Fossil Cove was so gloriously sunny, that the sea and the sky were shades of heavenly blue, and that the gentle on shore breeze was so soft and pleasant. So many mainland Australians who have never visited Tasmania have the idea this is a cold miserable place, so I am glad that my experiences walking the Derwent have been able to show this is a wonderfully beautiful place.  And it is a place very much worth a visit (or even a relocation to live here!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13/2/17

‘What’s in a name? A fair bit , actually’ says Rex Gardner

On page 14 of The Mercury newspaper on 5th February Rex Gardner asked ‘What’s in a name?  A fair bit , actually’ about a part of my favourite Tasmanian river.

He talked about the area near the Hobart docks and further out into the harbour and remarked that it ‘really doesn’t have a proper name’.

Rex commented: ‘We call it the River Derwent, or Derwent River. But that name aptly describes the Derwent around New Norfolk, and upriver from there, because a river is a naturally flowing fresh watercourse, flowing towards the sea.  Heading downstream towards Bridgewater, the Derwent becomes an estuary, defined as brackish water fed by streams and rivers, and flowing to the sea.’

When Rex added ‘What flows through the city of Hobart is not a river’, I gasped.  Over time, my blog has addressed the challenges of defining where the Derwent River starts and stops.

To help you to visualise the location, below is an excerpt from Google maps.

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Rex Gardner explained, ‘It could be loosely called an estuary, and more properly a harbour, which is a body of water surrounded by land.  The Derwent is 1.4km wide at the Tasman Bridge. From the Hobart docks to Howrah Point is 6km.  From Sandy Bay to Tranmere is 5km.  The Mississippi and the Amazon rivers don’t boast distances like that, except at their mouths or when they flow through lakes.’  Finally he remarked: ‘You have to wonder how the Derwent has suffered the indignity of being called a river for so long.  Just like Mount Wellington got a name change, so too should our Hobart Harbour.’  An alternative fact: our mountain has two official names – Mount Wellington and Kunanyi.

Rex Gardner’s approach adds a new dilemma. To understand some of the legal issues associated with defining a ‘river’ read here, here and here.

The Derwent Estuary Program describes the section of the Derwent between the Iron Pot (at the inner edge of Storm Bay near the eastern shore river mouth) and New Norfolk as the Derwent Estuary rather than the Derwent River and explains it is “a unique environment; a partially enclosed body of water where tidal seawater and fresh river water mix”.

What constitutes our Derwent River – where does it start and stop?  What is the location of its mouth? I have become so used to thinking of the Derwent River starting in the Lake St Clair area and ending around the Iron Pot that these ideas have shaken me up; they are making me question my position.  Does it matter to you? I wonder what others think.

Max Angus’s Derwent exhibition

Researching Max Angus’s ‘source to sea’ exhibition is still a work in progress.  Meanwhile I have found other documents and websites which list watercolours depicting various aspects of the Derwent River.

Sue Backhouse & Christa Johannes  co-authored the publication Max Angus: a lifetime of watercolour and provided the following information:  the … watercolour landscapes … have been selected from a sixty-year period to enable a broad exploration of subject matter and stylistic changes. The work includes examples from each decade since the late 1940’s. The earliest watercolours were painted when Max Angus returned to Hobart following the Second World War.” 

A pdf document, SIXTY-FIVE PAINTINGS by ‘THE SUNDAY PAINTERS Max Angus, Harry Buckie, Roy Cox, Patricia Giles, Geoff Tyson, and Elspeth Vaughan from the collection of Don & Maggie Row can be read here. This document provides details of a few of Max’s earlier Derwent related works; for example Bay on the Derwent River (1957); a watercolour 24.5 × 37 cm (sight) signed lower right ‘Max Angus’ in original artist’s frame and hand-painted double mount; exhibited in November 1957 with Tasmanian Group of Painters for their 18th Annual Exhibition at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart. It was listed as no.1 in the catalogue and on sale for 12 guineas. Verso on the backing upper [handwritten large, in the artist’s hand] ‘A Bay on the Derwent River / Max Angus. Another watercolour, Tasman Bridge and Derwent River Hobart c.1970 was signed lower left ‘Max Angus’ . His pen and grey wash Hobart from Lewis Street, 1980 offered a view of Hobart and the Derwent and Eastern shore hills from the garden at 6 Lewis Street, North Hobart.

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Thanks to blog reader Marion I have been reminded of well-known Tasmanian artist Max Angus and his connection with the Derwent River. His biography (up to 2003) can be read here. Max died aged over 102 years almost a fortnight ago in February (on my birthday so I will never forget it) this year.  You can refer to an ABC news report for more information .

As a celebrated watercolourist, Max documented coastal and inland Tasmanian landscape scenes, and over the decades of his life the Derwent River often featured as a subject for his paintings.

In 1990, one entire exhibition at the Freeman Gallery in Sandy Bay was devoted to the Derwent River Aspects of the Derwent from the Source to the Sea.  I am on the trail and hope to be able to post more exacting information in the future.  Perhaps a blog reader owns a catalogue from that rather special exhibition so I can see and learn more.  I suspect, like so many local art exhibitions, reproductions of the paintings on display were not included.  Nevertheless the descriptive titles which Max used for his work will be informative.

As an example of the artist’s Derwent River related work, a locally owned watercolour (included in this blog with permission from the private owner) titled ‘The Flying Cloud in Victoria Dock’ painted in October 1990, is shown below.  The waters of the Derwent River look fairly glassy in the foreground and a moody Mount Wellington provides a background to Hobart’s port.

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